Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gordonia penangensis: A Treasure on Keppel Island

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
Acacia auriculiformis
Acacia mangium
Adenanthera bicolor
Adenanthera pavonina
Alstonia angustifolia
Bhesa robusta
Buchanania arborescens
Calophyllum inophyllum
Canthium confertum
Carallia brachiata
Casuarina equisetifolia
Cerbera sp.
Champereia manillana
Cinnamomum iners
Clerodendrum laevifolium
Commersonia bartramia
Diospyros lanceifolia
Dracaena maingayi
Fagraea fragrans
Ficus grossularioides
Garcinia nigrolineata
Gordonia penangensis
Guioa pubescens
Gynochthodes sublanceolata
Indorouchera griffithiana
Ipomoea pes-tigridis
Lasianthus cyanocarpus
Litsea elliptica
Macaranga heynei
Melastoma malabathricum
Memecylon edule var ovatum
Morinda umbellata
Oncospermum tigilarium
Palaquium obovata
Pouteria obovata
Pteris vittata
Rapanea porteriana
Rhodomyrtus tomentosa
Rodamnia cinearia
Sapium discolor
Scaevola sericea
Streblus elongatus
Symplocos adenophylla
Syzygium glaucum
Syzygium grande
Syzygium palembanicum
Syzygium zeylanicum
Tetracera indica