Standing wild and free on the northern face of Keppel Island is a veritable grove of native trees of undisputed rarity and antiquity. It is really a miracle how they could have survived against the relentless pace of urban and economic development engulfing them from all sides. Yet they did.
Tall and brave I see them now as soldiers defending their fort on a knoll facing ultra-modern Reflections by the Bay in defiance. True courage, like flowering, comes spontaneous and pure and lives forever. It may wilt but never die. The spirit lives and re-appears again and again.
Finding Gordonia penangensis and finding it flowering thus is metaphorically so profound. It is as rare as courage standing up to the threat of extinction from its native soil. We must stand on their side and fight the good fight.
I am glad I came on Sunday (15 Jan 2012) to explore. It is my first visit to the island though I knew it since 1981 as a young navy man called to the Fleet at Pulau Brani. Back then, Keppel Island was known as Pulau Hantu. Few would have known there were actually 2 Pulau Hantu's in Singapore. But we did.
It was just a tiny island with a shack or two and a small untidy wharf on its southern shore. Over time it grew a little bigger and now completely transformed into a playground for both the rich and poor, young and old. I am glad its forest persisted. We ought to treasure it and keep for good.
To those interested in history, geography and botany of Singapore, I present you some old maps (below) which bear the old name, and also a hearty roll call of plant names proudly served to you as a first flora of Keppel Island. May these soldiers live forever in our heart and mind.
First Flora of Keppel Island listed right below of this blogpost. Notable find in bold and exceptionally significant in red.
Northern shore of Keppel Island (indicated by black arrows) where the grove of trees are located. The new coastal walkway runs along the yellow line.
The pre-transformation look of Keppel Island.
Old map no.1
Old map no. 2
Old map no.3
First Flora of Keppel Island
Memecylon edule var ovatum