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Plant of the Month
 
Blooming in Gold – the Golden Penda
Free flowering throughout the year, the Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) is a columnar tree and has been known to flower in unison under the right conditions in Singapore, creating a breath-taking gilded sight especially if planted in groves. The bright yellow powderpuff looking inflorescences are not only beautiful but also provide a nectar feast for wildlife like bees and birds such as bulbuls and sunbirds. The Golden Penda is a native of Queensland, Australia and was introduced to Singapore in 1982 as an ornamental tree, adding cheerful pops of colour to our urban landscape. Click on the link below to learn more.
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Animal of the Month
Common Palm Civet
The Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), also known as musang or toddy cat, is a nocturnal mammal found in both urban and forested areas of Singapore. This omnivore feeds on small prey and fruit and defecates viable seeds, making it a potential seed disperser. The excreted coffee beans occasionally ingested by this species of wild civet in parts of the Southeast Asian region are used to produce the world's most expensive coffee, kopi luwak. However, the reputation of this industry has been tainted by their reported cruel treatment of poaching and caging the palm civets. In Singapore, civets face the threat of being trapped or becoming roadkill due to the proximity of civet habitats to humans.
Interestingly, the secretions from its anal scent glands have been described as smelling like pandan, so if you ever smell pandan in an area without such plants, keep your eyes peeled for these shy creatures, recognisable by the presence of a black facial mask across their eyes. Find out more about this charismatic animal and celebrate its existence as Singapore’s last wild native urban carnivore!
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Did You Know?
 
Hong Kong Orchid Tree – Bauhinia blakeana
One of the loveliest blooms to ever inspire a regional flag would be those of the Hong Kong Orchid tree or Bauhinia blakeana, which appears on the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). First discovered by a Catholic missionary in the woods of the Pok Fu Lam area in Hong Kong in 1880, this species was named for Sir Henry Blake, who governed the former British Colony from 1898-1903. A natural hybrid between Bauhinia variegata and Bauhinia purpurea, this species bears fragrant, rich magenta orchid-like blooms that attracts butterflies and bees. Similar to many hybrids, the Hong Kong Orchid bears sterile flowers and does not set fruit. As such, this species can only be propagated via cuttings or air layering. In fact, all the trees in cultivation are believed to have originated from a single plant that was cultivated in the botanic gardens in Hong Kong. A popular ornamental tree, it can be planted in gardens, parks or patios as it grows well in full sun, and is also drought-tolerant. To learn more about this plant, click on the button below.
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What's Up?
Fauna News
Flora News
Leaves and roots messaging in legumes
Legumes like beans, peas and soy are very important crops that bear lots of proteins which are highly sort after by farmers and vegetarians alike. Unlike cereals, potatoes or apple trees, legumes have evolved the ability to host nitrogen-fixing bacteria within special organs in their roots. Legumes grow happily without chemical nitrogen fertilizer and their values as crop plants are immeasurable. New findings show that a micro RNA from the shoot keeps legume roots susceptible to symbiotic infection by down-regulating a gene that would otherwise hinder root responses to symbiotic bacteria. In response to environmental cues, micro RNAs can act as specific mobile signals that enable messaging between shoots and roots to regulate symbiosis according to the need of the plant. In agronomy, this knowledge uncovers fine tune communications necessary for efficient nitrogen fixing and enable legume crop exploits to achieve optimal and productive output.
 
 
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