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 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 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.
Also known as the Singapore Graveyard Flower (Plumeria obtusa), the Fragipani is no stranger to the local streetscape. The alternate name of the tree is attributed to the fragrant white flowers it produces, of which the scent is often associated with ghosts that are believed to live in the trees. The Frangipani trees are often planted in cemeteries or temple grounds, and are also associated with the afterlife in Malay custom.
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