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Plant of the Month
Valentine Hoya
Looking for a romantic gift for your valentine? Instead of a flower bouquet, consider gifting a potted plant which is equally beautiful and lasts much longer. The Valentine Hoya (Hoya kerrii) is named after its unique heart-shaped leaves. It produces small, waxy flowers forming a ball-like cluster. Valentine Hoyas are easy to look after and happy to be placed by a bright window at home or in the office. Water them only when the soil is slightly dry as the Valentine Hoya cannot tolerate waterlogged soils. Click the button 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?
The ‘Ribena®’ Plant
Did you know you can make your own ‘Ribena®’ from a plant that is easy to grow in Singapore? Ribena® is a fruit drink made from blackcurrants which grow best in temperate climates. However, you can make your own version of Ribena® with Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) calyces. The calyx (plural: calyces) is the outermost layer of the flower and is composed of all the sepals. After a Roselle flower blooms and withers, the calyx swells to form a deep red, fleshy structure that resembles a flower bud. By boiling the calyces in hot water and adding a little sugar, you can make a nutritious drink that tastes like Ribena® and is rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Roselle is well-suited to Singapore’s climate, so plants will produce an abundance of calyces—enough to satisfy your thirst! Click on the green button to learn more about Roselle.
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Fauna News
Flora News
Saving Wild Coffee Species
There are more than 100 coffee species growing in forests but only coffee beans from two species – Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta are commercially cultivated. Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England for the IUCN Red List Assessment found that 60% of the known coffee species are facing extinction. Although the coffee beans of many wild coffee species do not taste as good or for other reasons are not suitable for commercial harvesting, introducing their ‘wild’ genes into the commonly cultivated species can improve the genetic diversity for resilience, and resistance against climate change and diseases. This will enable future generations to continue enjoying this popular drink. Click here to find out more.
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