“We may already be familiar with the Simpoh Ayer (Dillenia suffruticosa), as it is a shrub that is reliably seen along forest edges and secondary patches. It may also be referred to as Daun Tempeh, for its leaves have traditionally been used for the wrapping and fermentation of soya beans (tempeh).
“I was first introduced to this plant during my army days, when it was referred to by a rather impolite colloquial name in a local dialect. We would snip off branches and leaves to camouflage ourselves and our vehicles during field training exercises. Hence, many Singaporean men would associate this shrub with the sweat and stench of their national service years.
“It was only much later that I began to see this plant in a different light. To begin with, their delicate yellow petals are always a sight for sore eyes. Their flowers never fail to please, regardless of the weather. They may blossom under the bright sun, in the shade, or right through the rain (all images above). I like them best when they’re soaking wet (below).
“A video clip of a flower sunbathing against a brilliant blue sky may be previewed here:
“Its fruit, once ripened, is attractively enticing (below).
“Many frugivorous birds, such as the Olive-winged Bulbul (Pycnonotus plumosus) will find this open invitation simply irresistible (below).
“A video compilation of various birds feeding on its fruit may be previewed here:
“For some of these feathered friends, it is a case of ‘the early bird catches the fruit’, before there is none left (below). In lean times, many a bird will appreciate the sustenance this plant can provide to help it press on for yet another day.”
Dr. Leong Tzi Ming
26th January 2017