Go green:
How well do you know Singapore's plants?

From rare native plants to edibles, National Parks Board’s (NParks) Pasir Panjang Nursery takes care of over 3,000 species of plants in its 12ha compound near Hort Park. Take this quiz to test your knowledge of some of the plants found in the nursery.

Question 1

Which of the following insects likes to live in the Hydnophytum formicarum - an epiphytic shrub with a swollen stem filled with tunnels?

Wasp
Ants
Bee
ANSWER

The Hydnophytum formicarum is also known as the Ant Plant. It grows on tree trunks and branches. Holes on the stem of the plant lead to tunnels and chambers within, providing a safe home above ground for ant colonies. Spikes on the stem also protect the ants from predators. In return, ants deposit waste within the plant, thereby feeding it.

Question 2

Which one of these plants does the Oriental Pied Hornbill, a native Singapore bird, like to visit?

Small-Leaved Nutmeg
Lime
Pear Mangosteen
ANSWER

The Oriental Pied Hornbill shows a preference towards trees belonging to the Annonaceae, Meliaceae and Myristicaceae families, among others. It is to the Myristicaceae family that the small-leaved nutmeg belongs. The hornbill helps to disperse the seeds of the fruit, which is considered critically endangered in Singapore.

Question 3

Which of the following native plants is named after Singapore?

ANSWER

Former Indonesian president B. J. Habibie once referred to Singapore as a "red dot". He had pointed to a map and said: "All the green (area) is Indonesia. And that red dot is Singapore." Singaporeans turned the jibe into a badge of pride. One example is the Singapore Kopsia (centre picture) which is named for the red dot at the centre of its flower. It can be found in the wild at Nee Soon Swamp Forest. The plant on the left is the Seashore Purslane, and the other one is the Malayan Ixora.

Question 4

Which of these trees is Tampines named after?

ANSWER

The Tempinis tree (right) used to populate the forest area that was Tampines, thus giving Tampines its name. In 1995, then-Tampines GRC MP, Mr Yatiman Yusof, started a project to plant the tree all over Tampines to raise heritage awareness among residents. It is also a common tree in Bukit Timah and other parts of Singapore. Kranji Road, by the way, got its name from the Kranji or Keranji tree (left), while Sembawang is named after the Sembawang tree (centre), which grows along streams.

Question 5

Which of the following plants cannot be grown in Singapore?

Sweet Melon
Tulips
Pumpkin
ANSWER

Tulips are planted in cool soil (0-12 deg C) to make roots. It takes about 4-6 weeks to grow sufficient roots before they are ready for warmer temperatures. But trying to grow tulips in Singapore will be very challenging.

Question 6

Which of these seeds are not dispersed by air?

Seeds of the Necklace Pod
Seeds of the Lowland Fox-Glove Tree
Seeds of the Hopea Sangal
ANSWER

The Necklace Pod grows in the coastal areas and the seeds of this critically endangered plant are generally dispersed by water. Note that the seeds are toxic and should not be consumed.

Sources: NParks, Vicky Lim/NParks, Shi Biying/NParks, AFP, LIANHE WANBAO
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