Dragon’s tail

on 7th March 2007

Most of us are familiar with the money plant (Epipremnum aureum). This creeping plant with smallish leaves is a favourite indoor plant, usually placed in a container of water. However, when planted in the ground, the leaves can grow large indeed. The plant seldom flowers, if at all.

The dragon’s tail (Raphidophora korthalsii) is a close relative. It became popular some ten or more years ago when the local Chinese claimed that the leaves, boiled in water with rock sugar, made a healthy drink. There were many who claimed that the drink could cure various ailments. Suddenly each leaf cost a few dollars apiece and people began planting them. The plant grows rapidly, creeping along the trunk of trees or even walls. Even today, there are those who use the leaves to cure certain skin allergies.


I have a plant growing along the trunk of my Alexandra palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae). It was so unruly that I tried to kill it off. I lopped off portions of the stem from the palm trunk and peeled them off. But I was not able to remove the upper part of the stem. It kept growing, sending down aerial roots that entered the ground to obtain water and nutrients. Finally the plant flowered. And flowered regularly.

One day I noticed a few Black-naped Orioles (Oriolus chinensis) feeding on the fruits (above). And apparently enjoying them. These birds are usually very shy, flying off whenever they noticed my presence. But not this time. They remained eating until they had their fill, allowing me to photograph them.

YC Wee
March 2007

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

6 Responses

  1. I see, so Raphidophora korthalsii is that climbing aroid that occurs quite commonly on wayside trees with a fleeting resemblance to Monstera deliciosa? Is it native to these parts? I notice quite a few aroids (e.g. Aglaonema and those Xanthophyllum (?) found in the Botanic Gardens jungle have bright red fruit. Might this be for the purposes of bird dispersal?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
Visitors Today

Clustrmaps (since 2016)