Spring is in the air and even in tropical Singapore, wayside trees are in bloom after torrential downpours following the dry season. Here are several flowering trees and their cultural significance and history in Singapore.
The Flame of the Forest (Delonix regia) was introduced to Singapore in 1840 and considered as one of the country’s Heritage Trees. It bears astoundingly beautiful red flowers that cover the tree’s entire crown. The tree has even inspired the name of a Singaporean instrumental group which was formed in the 1980s by local Kenny Tan and features world fusion music, including a mixed genre of Indian classical and traditional folk sounds.
The Pink Mempat (Cratoxylum formosum) tree was planted at Holland Circus by the first and late Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 1963 to mark the launch of Singapore’s tree planting and greening campaign. After more than five decades, the movement to make Singapore a ‘City in a Garden’ continues, and many more Mempat trees have been planted around the island. The tree bears light pink flowers akin to cherry blossoms, therefore earning its title as ‘Singapore’s Sakura’.
The lilac inflorescence of the Jacaranda tree (Jacaranda obtusifolia) from South America is eye-catching but ephemeral. They bloom briefly and sheds its compound leaves regularly. This could be a reason why the once popular roadside tree is now rarely cultivated in Singapore. That being said, the tree has a local street named after it – Jacaranda Road connects Old Upper Thomson Road to Casuarina Road.
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