Weekly Series
Nature Weekly
Short Notes on Nature Singapore

8 June 2014 | Field Trip | Bukit Timah Nature Reserve |

photo Last Saturday, I did my second trip to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) for the year. The one before was in end March. This time round, I did not see as many flowers and fruits on the forest floor compared to my last trip probably due to the different route that I had taken.

The greenish-yellow spiny fruit shown is not a durian (Durio zibethinus) but a fruit from the jackfruit family (Moraceae) known as Monkey Jack or botanically named Artocarpus rigidus. These palm-size fruits were found littered on the forest floor in a few locations. The "spines" covering the surface of the fruit were not sharp or hard. Though I did try looking up to locate the parent tree, I was not successful as the canopy was crowded with all kind of tall trees, plus I had no idea at that time on the shape of its leaves. Nevertheless, it was not too hard to identify the fruit back home since I had seen it picture previously from other website.

photo photo Among all the more interesting sightings were 2 gingers, a nest of wasps and an unusual praying mantis. BTNR is the home of several large ginger plants with the more common one being the Great Spindle Ginger (Hornstedtia scyphifera). It is no easy to differentiate them just by looking at the leaves --- they all looks rather similar. The distinctive feature appears when it flowers, usually at the ground level near the base of the plant. I was quite fortunate to spot 2 new gingers, Hornstedtia conica and Amomum xanthophlebium) in this trip simply because both were flowering at their base. I had passed by these ginger populations many times in the past but had no idea whether they were just another Great Spindle Ginger or something else. These 2 native gingers were briefly featured in the NParks Newsletter in 2013.

photo photo For the wasp nest and praying mantis, they were spotted around the same area by pure chance. In a forested area with high level of visual noise, it is hard to find small creatures, especially when they remain motionless. I first saw a wasp, likely to be Liostenogaster nitidipennis, on a leaf which soon disappeared to the back of that leaf. As I only got one shot of it, I wanted to try my luck to look for it. To my delight, there were one whole gang behind that rather large leaf building a nest. The praying mantis was discovered while I was trying to get a better shot of a bundle of fruits from a Croton caudatus plant. While manipulating the bundle of fruits, I sensed a slight movement from a stick-like object on the plant. Upon closer examination, it turned out to be an uncommon brown praying mantis; likely to be a Dead Leaf Mantis, Deroplatys truncata.

I am quite happy that NPark has decided to let BTNR take a break starting September. The poor place has been overly utilised for many years. Hopefully, the place will be allowed to take a break from time to time. This is the only "hill" that Singapore has.

To use any of the image(s), please read the conditions carefully. To correct any error, please contact me.