Monday, January 9, 2017

Cinnamomum javanicum: The Spice of Life

A rare find! Cinnamomum javanicum
Cinnamomum javanicum is a native wild cinnamom tree considered to be critically endangered in Singapore. It is so very rare that to find not one but two (though young trees) close together is to me an exceptional event in modern-day Singapore. All the more poignant that they should be found in MacRitchie forest currently threatened by the intrusion of the Cross Island MRT Line.

Persistence did the job. And love too. Going where no one go, I do cut a happy trooper most of the time and I am glad. A fruitful start coming at the turn of a new year but not without the bittersweet spice of life attending the wake of my consciousness. It was only last Christmas Eve that I was told of my dear friend's passing. Dr Benito Tan or Ben as I affectionately called him; he is and will forever be etched in my memory as among the best of friends that I could ever find. I am indeed blessed.

Death, Love and Time are my constant friends; recurring themes that I find so much alive and ado living with nature, especially for a happy 58-year-old that is me. The taste of joy is hard to describe when the contemplative recesses of experience never leave you alone. You remember in your head where whither you have been all these years and in your heart whom you have known and loved and got inspired. I thank them all. Such is the spice of life.

This discovery comes also in the wake of an oil spill in the vicinity of our much-loved Pulau Ubin island. Only a few days earlier I swam almost 200m towing a long train of oil booms to secure the seaward side of our marvelous mangrove at Chek Jawa. I did not want my young inexperienced colleagues to do it so I took the plunge myself. It is over and done with and I am glad. I have Dr Tan Wee Kiat (formerly of NIE) to thank though. He taught me an invaluable respect of the sea and the skill of drown-proofing. He also showed me what a wonderful human person could ever aspire to be. To him (a non-botanist) and all my esteemed botanists (past and present) I put at the threshold of your door my deepest respect; all mistakes and failures are mine totally. (Haha)

Last but not least, this moment of happiness has been heightened by Prof. Teh Tiong Sa coming online in Facebook after such a long break of silence! I was worried and as you can imagine, immensely glad to know he is well at long last. To him I am deeply indebted. Gave me courage when I needed it most and all the time inspiring me with his love of outdoor and his keen sense of enquiry as a geographer. I aim no less to see beyond the normal and be out there as much as I can in the field - happily ground truthing.

For these and many things I am truly glad and give thanks.

Leaf as long as 25cm
Long drooping slender branches
Leaf arrangement - opposite, sub-opposite and spiral
Aerial roots
Lamina bullate with pointed leaf tip
Midrib and secondary nerves raised above
Midrib and lamina hairy throughout
Secondary nerves and inter-marginal veins hairy throughout
Hairy rounded stem and bud
Tripli-nerved and densely hairy

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