For Tree Hugger Runners: Types of Trees You can See Along Singapore Road
Trees are all around you in Singapore, and these gentle green giants provide some much-needed shade from the hot sun for runners. In fact, Singapore has over 2 million trees that are planted in parks, protected natural areas, and along roadsides!
Learning about trees is a fantastic way to increase your love and understanding of nature and the environment. Here's a quick guide to 10 types of trees that you can see while you're out on a run in Singapore!
Rain Tree (Samanea Saman)
The Rain Tree is a common sight here, and it's a great place to rest under as its large branches stretch out in the shape of an umbrella, providing excellent shade. There is an extremely large Rain Tree in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Rain Tree earns its nickname because its leaves fold just before rainy weather. It is also called "Pukul Lima" ("5 o'clock") in Malay, as its leaves also fold in before sunset!
With a girth of 5m and stretching up to 32m in height, this particular specimen is classified as a protected Heritage Tree!
Fun Fact: Did you know that the Rain Tree is not a species native to Southeast Asia? It came originally from South America!
Angsana (Pterocarpus Indicus)
Angsana trees have beautiful fragrant yellow flowers that bloom only for 1 day, falling to the ground the next morning. Hardwood from the Angsana Tree is termite resistant, and surprisingly rose-scented!
Growing up to 40m high with a distinctively dome-shaped crown, there is a massive Angsana Heritage Tree located in Upper Serangoon Road and, at a girth of 7.7m, this particular specimen is amongst the largest roadside trees in Singapore!
Fun Fact: The Angsana Tree is the national tree of the Philippines!
Yellow Flame (Peltophorum pterocarpum)
The Yellow Flame tree is native to Southeast Asia, and named because its fragrant, brilliant yellow blossoms cover the entire crown when in bloom. It is a popular ornamental tree planted all over the world.
Due to its ability to survive in hot and dry weather, the Yellow Flame Tree is well-adapted for Singapore's sunny conditions.
Fun Fact: In India, the Yellow Flame is planted alternately with the Flame Tree for an eye-striking yellow and red effect in summer!
Senegal Mahogany (Khaya senegalensis)
As its name implies, the Senegal Mahogany is native to the African continent. In its first year, the seedling develops a deep root system that makes it a hardy, drought-resistant tree. When ripe, its fruits split open and release brown winged seeds that disperse in the wind.
Fun Fact: The Senegal Mahogany is closely related to the true Mahogany Trees and their timbers are similar in quality!
Broad-leafed Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla)
A large tree that can grow up to 30m in height, timber from Broad-leafed Mahogany is regarded as among the best in the world. Its wood is used for making furniture and a wide variety of musical instruments.
In Singapore, the Broad-leafed Mahogany is planted on roadsides and used for its welcoming shade. The leaves of the tree are distinctively dark green in colour, becoming scarlet in colour as it withers.
Fun Fact: The Broad-leafed Mahagony is 1 of 3 species that yields genuine mahogany timber!
Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans)
The Tembusu is a tree that is native to Singapore. A large evergreen tree, the Tembusu can grow up to 40m tall. Its yellowish flowers have a distinctive fragrance and the fruits of the tree are bitter tasting red berries, which are commonly eaten by birds and fruit bats.
A recreation of the 200 year old Tembusu tree in the Singapore Botanic Gardens is also featured in Singapore's SG$5 banknote!
Fun Fact: The extremely hard wood from the Tembusu Tree can last over 100 years and is used to make chopping boards. In fact, the wood is so hard that even termites and weevils avoid eating it!
Sea Apple (Syzygium grande)
The Sea Apple is a coastal tree, and can often be found growing on sandy or rocky shores in the wild. Growing up to 30m in height, its flowers are distinctively "pom-pom like"! The fruits of the Sea Apple are eaten by bats, monkeys and birds, which then help to disperse the seeds.
Fun Fact: Surprisingly, the Sea Apple tree does not catch fire easily. Back when much of singapore was undeveloped and filled with lalang grass, the Sea Apple was planted widely across Singapore as a firebreaker!
Saga (Adenanthera pavonina)
When you run near a Saga tree, you'll definitely know it. The scarlet seeds are typically strewn all over the pavement, and children love collecting them! Fast-growing and requiring low maintenance, the Saga tree is a common sight in Singapore as it provides plenty of shade.
Fun Fact: Saga seeds are surprisingly uniform in weight, with 4 seeds weighing 1 gram. These were so accurate that the seeds have been used as units of weight for fine measures, such as gold!
Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia rosea)
The Trumpet tree is known gets its name from the distinctive, trumpet-shaped flowers. It is a hardy tree that grows up to 18m to 25m tall. Its fruits are elongated pods, which split to disperse winged seeds that are carried away by the wind!
Fun Fact: The Trumpet tree tends to flower rapidly following rainfall after a long dry spell. The resulting bloom of the pink and white flowers covering the tree, causes it to look similar to Japan's Cherry Blossom trees!
Sea Almond (Terminalia catappa)
The Sea Almond is a large tree that can grow up to 25m tall. It has a unique tiered branching pattern, forming a pagoda-shaped crown. This tree has very large leaves that can grow to be up to 30cm broad and 14cm long, which turn from green to yellow, orange and finally red when they are about to shed.
Fun Fact: The leaves of the Sea Almond can actually lower the pH values and heavy metal content of water, and are commonly used by fish breeders to improve the health of their fish!
Trees serve to complement and balance Singapore's urban environment. Not only acting as a welcome form of shade from the hot sun, they also often add colour and vibrancy to the landscape. Without trees, the Singapore cityscape would be a severe landscape of concrete buildings instead!