Forensic birding: Cinnamomum iners

posted in: Feeding-plants, Plants | 1


In February and March 2006 I found many seeds scattered along my driveway (left top). The ones I recognised were palm seeds – MacArthur (Ptychosperma macarthurii) and Alexandra (Archontophoenix alexandrae). The seeds were clean and devoid of their outer fleshy covering. This made me suspect that they must have been regurgitated by the birds perching along the fronds of my ceram palms (Rhopaloblaste ceramica).

To help identify the seeds, I germinated them in a pot and followed the development of the seedlings. So far I have only recognised one type of seed, the wild cinnamon or kayu manis (Cinnamomum iners) (above bottom). The seedlings are easy to identify as the leaves are each with three longitudinal veins (below). On crushing the leaf a faint aroma can be detected.


This is a native tree commonly found in open country and disturbed forests. This is also a popular wayside tree. The regular flushes of new leaves appear first as reddish pink, turning cream, then light yellow, and finally green (below left). The young leaves provide refreshing colours to the greenery of the urban forest. The succulent berries that turn blue on ripening have a single seed (below right). This is truly a bird tree. They flock to it when it is in fruits.

Most of the birds that gather regularly on my ceram palms are Pink-necked Green Pigeons (Treron vernans). There are also the occasional Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus) and Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis). My guess is that these seeds were left by the pigeons, although I had yet to have any proof. Or maybe the starlings were also responsible?


YC Wee
July 2007

  1. Richard Corlett

    Green pigeons are thought to destroy most seed in their muscular gizzards, althoggh this has only been tested on figs.

    Richard Corlett, NUS

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