A burst of colourful leaves in Singapore’s Garden City

on 6th May 2014

The recent prolonged drought that finally broke soon saw Singapore’s garden city burst into colours as selected trees put forth brightly coloured young leaves. An entire avenue of Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia floribunda ‘Red Leaf’) covered with flushes of vibrant red new leaves instantly attracted attention (above). The mauve flowers will appear eventually, turning white with age.

Other examples of using colourful young leaves to add colours to the urban environment include Wild Cinnamon (Cinnamomum iners). The new leaves are limp and reddish pink, soon turning cream, then fresh green (above).

In the case of Ironwood Tree (Mesua ferrea), the elongated narrow, yellowish pink young leaves hang limply down (above).

Pink Mempat (Cratoxylum formosum) shed all its leaves until the branches are bare. Then young reddish pink leaves emerge to cover the crown together with the attractive pale pink flowers (above).

Once, many years ago, we had many Flame of the Forest (Delonix regia) grown, but very few are seen now-a-days. Besides the spectacular scarlet blossoms (above, photographed in Cairns, Australia), we got a display of green and yellow as the green leaflets turn yellow prior to falling (below).

YC Wee & John Lynn
April 2014
Note: Image of Crape Myrtle by John Lynn, all others 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.

Other posts by YC Wee

6 Responses

  1. Very good post and very good photos.

    In the ’80s I bought the S’pore Science Centre’s guidebook to common Singapore wayside trees, so I could identify some of the trees I always saw. However, for many trees listed, the book only shows part of the tree and not the whole tree. This made identification tough. I appreciate a close-up of the leaves, flowers, etc, but without an overall picture of the entire tree, it was very difficult to identify many trees I saw.

    Last year I borrowed a book from the library (“Trees Of Our Garden City: A Guide To The Common Trees Of Singapore”) but it too showed only parts of the tree, not the whole tree, which was frustrating for me because when you pass a tree, the first thing you notice is its overall shape. It’s just like asking someone to identify a person based on photos of their individual arms, legs, face, etc. The first thing I notice about someone is their overall gait, posture, body shape & size, not small details like whether they have a mole on their face or how big their feet are!

    1. Yes, I know. It is difficult to show all aspects of a tree in a small book. I had a re-look at the Science Centre book and there are many tree images, although not all the species covered.

      1. Yes, it’s quite lacking, but then again it’s a very old book. I like the compact size though, very handy.

        The “Trees of Our Garden City” book is a lot bigger, but it has very few full-size pictures of trees.

  2. Gorgeous photos, no doubt of that.
    Being a picky editor sort of person, I was quite surprised by the spelling of ‘Crape’ but on casual Net research, I note that it is indeed the most prevalent spelling of this species of Myrtle, whereas a Brit English-speaker like myself would have expected ‘Crepe’ (which apparently is an alternative spelling, and is sometimes used in reputable sources, e.g. in Australia). You live and learn!

    1. My fault. I was led by the new book by Boo, C. M., Chew, Sharon Y. J. Chew & Jean W. H. Yong (2014), Plants in Tropical Cities, Uvaria Tide, Singapore, 990 pp. – where the first few common names give “crape” before one with “crepe” appeared. Not familiar with the spelling crape-crepe, I was unaware that it was American vs English spelling, until now. Yes, we live and learn.

  3. Hi John Lynn,

    May i know where is this row of Lagerstroemia floribunda ‘Red Leaf?
    I love it so much and want to have a look at it.

    thank you.

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