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Plant of the Month
 
Have a Berry Happy New Year!
Have you ever seen the Kerenda plant? Scientifically known as Carissa carandas, this woody shrub produces small, fragrant white flowers and oval fruit which ripen from pink to deep, dark purple. The unripe, pinkish sour fruit can be used for pickling after washing to completely remove the white latex, while the sweet, juicy ripe dark purple fruit can be made into jellies and jams. The plant is also used as a traditional remedy for treating parasitic worms, vitamin C deficiency and constipation. Kerenda plants are sun-loving, grow in a wide range of soils and are easily propagated via seed or stem cuttings. They tolerate difficult growing conditions well and make great hedge or barrier plants. Their bird-attracting qualities also make them a wonderful addition in parks and gardens. Click on 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?
 
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
Genetically Modified Money Plants Help Clean the Air
A group of scientists from university of Washington has approved that the genetically modified Money Plants, Epipremnum aureum, has greatly enhanced ability to remove volatile organic carcinogens such as benzene and chloroform in homes. The transgenic Money Plant is able to express the mammalian cytochrome P450 2e1 which can oxidize a wild range of harmful compounds. Click here for more information.
 
 
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