Golden penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) and nectar feeders

on 30th March 2011

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS was in Singapore recently “…to meet a close relative from the UK and took the opportunity to casually watch birds in the urban environment.”

Amar observed that “Singapore is such a well kept city that there is very little leaf litter and hence little natural compost. I hardly saw ants, came across one spider and suspect this makes it difficult for the ‘average’ bird in the urban environment to find food. Hence seeing a pair of Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus) (they predominate in Singapore) feeding on nectar makes sense (above). This beautiful, planted tree may be an important food source for them. The tree is a golden penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus), recently introduced into Singapore from Australia (see YC Wee. Tropical Trees and Shrubs. 2003). Seeing it made me want to plant one in my garden.”

The Golden Penda originates from the rainforests in the north-east of Australia. It was extensively planted in Singapore less than 15 years ago and now line many urban roads. The bunches of yellow flowers appear in almost all trees at regular intervals. Large transplanted trees similarly flower, even before the crown is fully formed.

Although not an indigenous species, the Golden Penda attracts plenty of nectar feeding birds. Besides the Javan Myna, the flowers also attract Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) (above left), Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) (above right), Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots (Loriculus galgulus) (below left) and Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) (below right).

Now who says exotic plants do not attract wildlife?

Video by Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS and images of birds by YC Wee.

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.

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