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Plant of the Month
Pots of Gold
Take a trip to Singapore’s Little India this November and you will be greeted by the festive atmosphere of Deepavali or the Hindu festival of lights. One of the most popular flowers used during this festival is the Marigold ( Tagetes species), which comes in vibrant shades of yellow, orange and even red. Marigolds are important symbol in Indian culture and Hinduism, and are often strung together with Jasmines or Mango leaves. These garlands are hung on doors or worn as accessories for good fortune. The Marigold plant actually originates from Mexico, and was first introduced to India in the 16th century. Marigolds are easy to grow in Singapore and prefer a sunny location. They are great companion plants for growing tomatoes and chilies, and can be encouraged to flower further by removing spent flowers before seed formation. Read more about it here.
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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?
Mangrove Horseshoe Crab
Contrary to popular belief, their tail is not used for defence but to help with locomotion and to upright themselves if they have been turned upside down. Horseshoe crabs are mainly scavengers, feeding on worms, bivalves and animal matter. Two species have been recorded from Singapore, this photo shows the Mangrove Horseshoe Crab, and the other one is the Coastal Horseshoe Crab. Both species are listed in the Singapore Red Data book.
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Fauna News
Flora News
Jackfruit that taste like chocolate
A researcher from the University of Sao Paulo's Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (ESALQ-USP) in Brazil discovered an alternative for chocolate after accidently roasting jackfruit seeds. This discovery came at a right time as the supply of cocoa is unable to meet the exponential international demand for it. Fernanda Papa Spada, the proud owner of this discovery, has been fermenting these jackfruit seeds to maximize its cocoa flavor. She has been making cappuccino using dry jackfruit seed flour, milk and coffee and the result is amazing. Click here to read more about the exciting finding.
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