Saturday, December 12, 2009

Two notable trees of MacRitchie Reservoir Park

Two notable trees worthy of special attention can be found in MacRitchie Reservoir Park today. Both are mature trees and both coincidentally exhibiting drooping branches of leaves. They are Anisophyllea griffithii, a tree of considerable rarity, and Shorea acuminata, a possible new record for Singapore.

Though I have known Anisophyllea griffithii or Griffith's Leechwood (photo above, centred) for many years, never have I the privilege of witnessing it in bloom. For this very reason the tree has become a necessary first-stop before starting my explores of the forest nearby. I must say I have grown very fond of this lovely tree over time. It is so graceful and elegant; so quietly enduring to the heart.

Shorea acuminata or Meranti Rambai Daun (photos below) on the other hand is conical in form, almost as if accentuating the lofty summit spot it hails - on the hillock above my lovely leechwood. Surprisingly, to say the least, I only discovered it recently in June this year 2009; this hillock being so small and I thought I knew all the trees there. I was proved wrong.

On that fateful late afternoon, the weather had taken a turn for the worse just as I was finishing surveying my lovely leechwood. Dark ominous clouds had gathered rapidly overhead. Not wanting to be caught in a storm within the forest, I decided to abandon my explore for the day. But not wanting to waste my long bus trip down from home, I thought I could make speed surveying the trees I know on the hillock before the rain hit the ground. So climbed I did, and ran straight into the tree - in quick time - serendipitously.

I realized pretty soon after why it had eluded me so far - the tree was completely entombed within an imposing fortress of tall hedging. If not for my habitual leechwood-stop... the weather a-fouling... the desperate quick-silver in trying to have some meaningful work done with precious little time on hand... and of course, a healthy dose of curiosity to investigate... it would have eluded me still.

To the non-discerning crowd, it may not come readily to think of the present immaculate MacRitchie Reservoir Park as a forested area decades ago. There are indeed a fair number of mature forest trees that had survived past development of the park. They remain as living signposts of the former forest there.

The need to know them presently comes at an urgent time when soon the summit will see the development of a new restaurant in place of the nice old canteen we are so familiar with. For this, I hope to document and map these trees soon with some civic-minded tree-lovers. Here again is another scope for what I call folk conservation.

Good friend Shawn in the foreground of Shorea acuminata atop hillock


Drooping branchlets

Earth-pointing leaves

Fallen leaves and stipules

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