The Singapore ‘Sakura’

Ever wanted to experience the blooming of cherry blossoms? Fret not as you need not travel all the way to Japan to see and immerse yourself in such an environment.

During the period of late March to early April, students of the National University of Singapore were treated to a sight along the stretch of Heng Mui Keng Terrace leading towards the Energy Studies Institute. The flowers of the Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia rosea) blossomed in massive numbers, presenting a sight of tranquil colour mix of nature’s green and brown with its light touches of pink.

Street showered with flowers of the Trumpet Tree

Street showered with flowers of the Trumpet Tree (Photo from triplecorrelation.com)

 

The mass flower blooming coincided with the Cherry Blossom bloom period in Japan, leading some students in the university to term the sight as the ‘Singapore Sakura’.

The Tabebuia Rosea is a common tree planted along the streets of Singapore. The similarity in the flower colour often led to individuals unable to differentiate between the Trumpet Tree and the Pink Mempat (Cratoxylum formosum). A preliminary search was done on the internet to identify the species of the tree that was responsible for such flowering. Substantiated by newspaper reports of sightings of massive flower blooming across different parts of the island, I was led into believing that the tree that was found along the stretch of Heng Mui Keng Terrace was that of the Pink Mempat. Upon closer observations of the flowers that dropped on the ground against pictures provided by internet users, I realised that the pictorial description of the flower of the Pink Mempat was different from that of the flowers seen at Heng Mui Keng Terrace.

Pink Membat Flower Bloom (Photo from Stomp.com.sg)

Pink Membat Flower Bloom (Photo from Stomp.com.sg)

The most distinct morphology that differentiates between the two flowers of the species is their length of the pistil. The flower of theTrumpet Tree has a longer pistil as compared to the flower of the Pink Mempat.

Flower of Trumpet Tree (Photo from Flikr)

Flower of Trumpet Tree (Photo from Flikr)

 

Flowers of Pink Mempat (Photo from Flikr)

Flowers of Pink Mempat (Photo from Flikr)

 

The mass flowering is especially rare for a country like Singapore. The local climate of uniformly wet without prolonged period of dry spell does not cause such mass flowering to occur. However, the prolonged dry spell in the recent month followed by a sudden heavy rain triggered the intense mass flowering of the Trumpet Tree and thus bringing the ‘Singapore Sakura’ into NUS. (Borchert, 1983)

References:

Borchert R., (1983). Phenology and Control of Flowering in Tropical Trees. Biotropica, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Jun., 1983), pp. 81-89 .

“Know 10 Trees”, National Parks Singapore. URL: http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=182&Itemid=161 (accessed on 13 April 2010)

” ‘Sakura’ season in Singpaore too”, by Huang Lijie. The Straits Times, 21 March 2010. Hosted on WildSingapore: http://wildsingaporenews.blogspot.com/2010/03/sakura-season-in-singapore-too.html (accessed on 13 April 2010)

2 thoughts on “The Singapore ‘Sakura’

  1. The trumpet flower shown doesn’t belong to Tabebuia rosea (looks more like Brugsmannia) and the Pink Mempat flowers don’t look right (the one shown looks more like its from Lagerstromia).

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