Singapore Rhododendron: Bees, a lizard and a bird

on 20th March 2018

The Singapore or Straits Rhododendron (Melastona malabathricum) is a common weedy shrub that is found all over Singapore. The fruits are sought after by at least 8 species of birds LINK. The seeds are tiny and numerous and pass off with the birds’ faeces, usually some distance away from the fruit source.

The flowers are pollinated by bees, the most prominent being the Carpenter Bees LINK. The fruits are commonly taken by the Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) that spread the seeds far and wide LINK.

I have retained a plant in my garden for some years now. It was most likely brought in by a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. I love to hear and see the colourful Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker flying to the tree for the fruits. I also love to see the large carpenter bees visiting the flowers.

A mistletoe (Scurrula sp.) has established on its branches LINK. This will attract its own complement of fauna, making the plant richer in biodiversity.

M malabathricum fl-HalictidBee [wyc] - 1

A few hours in the evening monitoring my Singapore Rhododendron showed the presence of the big Black Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa latipes) and the Halictid Bee or Sweat Bee (Anthophora zonata) (above). The latter was soon gobbled up by Male Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor). The video clip also caught the male Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker visiting for the fruits.

YC Wee
3rd October 2107

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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