All along the route from Singapore's Changi Airport to the city center, there is lush greenery, interspersed with beautiful, tropical flowers. Singapore certainly lives up to its reputation as a "Garden City." Many of its familiar flowers, trees and plants are among the first to greet arriving visitors from all over the world. In many cases, they too once arrived in Singapore from other places.
Orchids are synonymous with Singapore, from the real flowers to gold plated orchid jewelry. The Singapore Botanic Gardens has an orchid hybridization program that began in the 1930s, with over 400 registered hybrids to date.
The hybrid, Oncidium goldiana, also called "golden shower" or "dancing lady," dates from 1939. Today, it is among the most popular orchids in the world.
The "flaming beauty" is more formally called Carphalea kirondron. It is a member of the Rubiaceae family.
This evergreen bush is native to Madagascar. In the tropical climate of Singapore, it flowers all year round.
Its rich, green opposite leaves form an ideal backdrop for the clusters of brilliant red calyx lobes. But it is the four-petaled white flowers that draw all the attention, blooming randomly among the red calyx lobes and creating an attractive contrast for themselves.
A Frenchman, Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729 to 1811) first discovered bougainvilleas in Brazil in 1768. These evergreen shrubs are foremost among the spectacular florals that grace Singapore's parks, gardens and avenues.
The small, white trumpet like flowers are overshadowed by the bracts that surround them in bright colors like magenta, purple, orange and crimson. The flexibility of bougainvilleas facilitates training them as trees, vines, hedging, screening, and as topiaries.
Bougainvilleas are primarily ornamental, with no known medicinal or other chemical properties. The Singapore Botanic Gardens has over 50 hybrids of bougainvilleas in its collection. They include Bougainvillea glabra "pride of Singapore," and Bougainvillea glabra "Singapore pink," among others.
Cannonball Tree Flowers
The tall, deciduous cannonball tree (Couroupita guianensis) thrives in Singapore's West Coast Park, East Coast Park, and even along the Pan Island Expressway, adding bright colors to the landscape. It is also called the sala tree or coco de mono, among other common names. It is a plant of the Lecythidaceae or Brazil-nut family, and native to the Amazon rainforest.
The flowers are pink and yellow, and very fragrant. They form off woody extensions that grow from the trunk bark. Large clusters of flowers cascade downwards, giving the cannonball tree its distinctive appearance. The globular brown fruit of the tree look like miniature cannon balls. They appear after the flowering, and take up to one year to ripen. The flowers, fruit pulp and bark have medicinal uses.