Friday, January 8, 2010
If you can hear, my inner voice speaking behind these written words is soft to the point of void in a vacuum. I make the effort though. A giant Shorea ovalis (of about 250cm girth) has been felled by humans. I wished it not. A tree in the wild state of the Rain Forest in the Singapore Botanic Gardens; fruited July last year 2009; visited again recently and witnessed its full glorious crown... before it went down... and now an empty space of sky in the forest canopy.
8 Jan 2010: I saw the stump. It is healthy to the notch. Open flesh fresh a-lingering still. A few steps away lies two other stumps; trees of the same fate... silent... in the forest.
I make noise today though. A soft voice it is to speak the grievances the trees spoke to me that day. I want you to know how the wind came. Coming hardly the 10th minute of my wandering, it took post so strong and swept the sunlit floor into the gloom of angry clouds gathering above. Within the minute, wind and pelting rain released together. I hid and huddled below some trees with umbrella as I watched. And it rained and rained so forcefully; time standing still. The whole forest shook. How acutely I felt a great life force wrenching itself off the forest into the void above... so powerful and ominous a remonstration. Today this incomparable little voice tells you it happened. I cannot begin to ask why.
[Note: if you want to see the site of destruction, it is at the last bend along Liane Road, on the right as you approach the side-gate at Cluny Road.]
1) Fruits found July last year 2009.
2) Close-up of winged fruit.
3) Health stump of Shorea ovalis.
4) Galls on underside of leaves.
5) More galls of a different type. Amazingly I also found these same hairy type in an old herbarium voucher of the Gardens' Jungle Shorea ovalis collected by H.N. Ridley (no. 6393, dated 1894).
6) Looking for answers, a few days later, I went to ask the garden staff I found in the Potting Yard and to my horror saw the remains of the tree's trunk. [photos below by Angie Ng]