Forensic birding: Cinnamomum iners

on 13th July 2007


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

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

One Response

  1. 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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