Wednesday, July 13, 2011

5 places where you find Casuarina trees in Singapore

I have always been quite fascinated by the humble Casuarina tree. I always associate it with my childhood. I do not know why. At first I thought it was because we had this tree in my primary school compound in Braddell Rise School. But recently, when I enlarged the photo of the view from the front of my kampong house to create the banner you see at the top of this blog, I realized that there used to be few Casuarina trees in front and at the back of the row of shops opposite our house.

There are two things that I remember about this tree. One is the string-like leaves. We liked to pull it apart and join it back again. Secondly, I remember seeing clumps of hair-like dead leaves on the ground.


Nowadays, there are not many places in Singapore where you can see Casuarina trees. But if you keep your eyes open, I think you can easily spot 10 places or more. So here’s a quiz for you. Can you identify these 5 places or roads with Casurina trees.

No. 1 is a give-away. There are lots of Casuarinas trees here as to be expected because Casuarinas are supposed to grow well in sandy areas such as the seaside.

No. 2 should also be quite easy. This short road should be called Casuarina Road because it is the only road in Singapore where you can find lots of Casuarina trees growing on both sides of the road. On the contrary, I hardly saw a single Casuarina tree in Casuarina Road near the Peirce Reservoir at Upper Thomson Road.

No. 3 is also quite easy. Hint – it is near to a very famous food centre.

No. 4 is also easy. This is a park where I went recently to take part in the filming of Foodage; a documentary that is coming up this month on Okto Channel. My Foyer friends are sure to blog about it.

No. 5 is probably the toughest as this place is quite secluded. Hint: It is in the Bukit Timah area.

Now let's see if anyone would like to take up the challenge and do a follow-up to this story.


It appears that my quiz is too simple for you guys. So here are 2 more bonus questions. No hints this time.


Anonymous said...

No. 1 - East Coast Park
No. 2 - Yuan Ching Road
No. 3 - Newton Circus
No. 4 - Crawford Street
No. 5 - Old Holland Road

R. Burnett Baker said...

Funny how the memory is triggered. I don't recall these trees in S'pore, and I used to go to Old Holland Rd a lot.

But I DO remember these trees along the beach in Songklah, Thailand. They reminded me of pines, and I thought it odd to see them along the Thai beach. (Although they are native to the area)

Here in the US they were introduced in the early 1900's and are now considered to be an invasive species. Guess they're taking over Florida.

But what species, humans included, AREN'T invasive!?!?


peter said...

When the wind blows, I like to hear the sound made from those trees. Sounds like whistling.

yg said...

clue for no:5 could be - it is near my (chun see's) house. however, this isn't a recent photo.

Anonymous said...

As a child, I lived in one of the HDB blocks along Yuan Ching Road, just across the old drive-in theatre. The drive-in theatre and even those blocks of flats are long gone, but it always made me happy to see that those trees are still there.

Yes, it was a fun trick as a child to pull the leaves apart and "put them back" again. I also remember the pineapple-like fruits, that the tree bore, which peppered the ground.

Anonymous said...

I remember playing football bare footed in the fringe of the field at Geylang Stadium (Lorong 12/Thalma Road) and inadvertently stepping on the pines of the Casuarina tree. It is painful.

Anonymous said...

Rhu in malay is casuarina. So is Tanjong Rhu the place where there are a lot of Casuarina trees.

yg said...

there are casuarina trees on the reclaimed land of marina promenade. from there, you can get a good view of tanjong rhu.

Lam Chun See said...

OK. Mr Anonymous no. 1. Let's see if you can handle my additional questions.

Lam Chun See said...

Actually as far back as 2009, I already thought of giving this quiz. But I didn't want to spend the time to go to a place just to take a photo for the quiz and thus it took me so long to come up with these photos. But during this time, I spotted Casuarinas at many other places. But maybe keep that for another time. Maybe in 2013. LOL.

Lam Chun See said...

In case some of you do still do not get the answers given by Anonymous no. 1 .....

Photo No. 4 is taken at Kallang River Park looking towards Crawford Street and Beach Road.

Photo No. 5 is at Old Holland Road next to the big field near to MGS. I blogged about this place here.

The cars you see along the road belong to people who go there to fly model aeroplanes and kites. At one time, I saw people playing a very special game whereby they roll along the slope inside a big plastic bubble. Saw that in the news but it stopped after a while. I wonder why.

korina said...

Hi Chun See. It's Paul Warner. The Casuarina tree reminds me of my science lessons at Parry Primary along with the Angsana tree - the name has always stuck with me. Are there stil many of those trees in Singapore? Thanks

Lam Chun See said...

Hi Paul. Here's the answer to you question on the Angsana tree; from Spore Infopedia.

"In 1967, Singapore launched its Garden City campaign to beautify its environment with greenery. From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, the Angsana became a popular choice of planting for the campaign. During the initial phase of the campaign, there was an urgent demand for planting materials that were easy to grow within a short span of time. Angsana trees were ideal for this purpose as it could provide "instant trees". Large-sized stem and branch cuttings from the tree developed roots easily once planted. Within a relatively short span of time, the tree grows to an advanced stage. As a result, the trees were extensively planted along newly-opened roads and in newly completed parking lots requiring immediate shade.

However, an inherent weakness of the Angsana is that it is prone to branch breakage, especially during heavy storms. In recent years, it has been infected by a fungal disease known as the "Angsana Wilt", which has killed many of the trees. Hence, there have been increased efforts to plant more resistant varieties in place of the Angsana. In spite of this, it remains a popular shade and ornamental tree in Singapore. Today, Angsana trees are seen growing along both major roads such as Orchard Road, and ordinary roads in many Housing Development Board (HDB) estates."

peter said...

Casuarina tree are planted like in an "estate layout" - rows and rows on the reclaimned land to prevent soil erosion and to compact the soil. The HDB was responsible for it. So places like the east coast all the way to Changi East, you find them. The casuarina tree would be the first-line of defense against the sea and behind them would be the other specie of trees.

However if planted on the road-side, it's the work of NParks and not HDB. Probably as decorative piece.

Jon said...

My guess is that Bonus pic #1 was taken in Bedok Reseroir Park or Bishan Park. My suspicion that #2 shows Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim is confirmed by bus 194 being visible.

Lam Chun See said...

I must salute you Jon. Bonus pic #1 is from Bishan Park, taken about 2 years ago. If I had shown the colourful bridge over the pond, many people would know the answer.

Pic#2 is indeed Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim; taken from the car park in the Birk Park.

There are many Casuarina trees along AYE. As you enter Spore from the immigration area, immediately in front of you are a few huge C. trees. Along the whole stretch of AYE, you will find many of them. Interestingly, they tend to stick out from between the tracks of the flyovers. I suspect that these tree were already there in the old days when these junctions were roundabouts.

Jon said...

Oh, that wasn't too hard. Older parks tend to have their own fingerprint. When all that are left are the parks in Punggol and Sengkang, we'll have a harder time telling them apart!

Pat said...

Chun See (19 Jul 11): "Interestingly, they tend to stick out from between the tracks of the flyovers. I suspect that these tree were already there in the old days when these junctions were roundabouts."

There are some Casuarina trees sticking out from between the elevated East-West roadways of the Teban Flyover along AYE (Cycle & Carriage junction). I seem to recall them gradually growing out of the gap & then above the flyover. I think they were deliberately planted to fill up the gap, soon after the flyover was built.

In the vicinity, there are also a couple of Casuarina trees lining Teban Gardens Rd & West Coast Rd overlooking the compound of the former Pandan Pri School. Further east along AYE (at Clementi Ave 6 exit), several of these trees are planted in the field of Clementi Town Sec School. There are lots of Casuarina at West Coast Park -- a specimen located near the West Coast Highway-Clementi Rd junction is colourfully-clothed with a Bougainvillea 'Mrs Eva' that has been climbing up the tree's canopy.

In the aftermath of roadside tree-falls in 2010, several of these wayside & non-wayside Casuarina trees were IGNORANTLY de-topped in a mass tree-pruning exercise. De-topping is one of the ugliest things one can do to a Casuarina.

lim said...

I grew up in Braddell Heights estate during the 50s to 70s, and there were many of this Casuarina trees there. And of course, I always remember Changi Beach for the Casuarina trees.

Anonymous said...

Lots of development in the Yuan Ching Road (Chinese Garden area). My friend who lives there told me a lot of casuarina trees have been cut down.

There are usually also some casuarina trees in the fields of some schools. Unfortunately, they too have been cut down with impunity (often during a school upgrading project), usually replanted with some other kind of tree (a shorter tree, with less 'shedding' problems when it comes to seeds/pods and leaves).

It's sad because growing up as a kid, I've always thought how similar casuarina trees are to Christmas trees. How pretty they look as they gently sway in the breeze. And how their little pods look like mini durians.

Unknown said...

I was hoping NParks would retain the casuarina trees along Yuan Ching Road but just like what anonymous commenter mentioned above, most of the trees are being replaced. I drive along Yuan Ching Road everyday and these trees brings back many memories. I love these trees. When I was a very young child, my brother and I found a large pod and played with it like a sword. I used to walk along Yuan Ching Road every weekday, twice to get to school/get home and tripping onto these pavements quite frequently. Now I think about it, I might have tripped because I stepped on a cone or something. LOL!