Writer’s wildlife photos: The flowers of Singapore

October 29, 2016 • 10:00 am

Well, these aren’t necessarily endemics, but they’re all on view at the amazing botanical “pod” Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, which we visited yesterday. It’s a HUGE greenhouse that has a rain forest tower 7 stories high, completely covered with plants. You can go to the top and walk down. I’ve never seen so many plants, and from such diverse areas of the world, in one place.

Most photos are by Melissa Chen, but I’ll start off with a few of mine. I have no IDs for mine, but Melissa does for some of them. Botanically-adept readers might identify the others. Enjoy!

My photos:

A huge tower outside the complex; it’s a solar-energy collector that’s been festooned with epiphytes. This is about 8 stories high:



Cactus flower. What do you suppose pollinates this? I can guess.



Melissa’s photos.



This is a very weird and tiny but beautiful orchid. My finger is in there for scale:


Protea cynaroides, or the King Protea, one of the loveliest flowers of South Africa, found in the fynbos region:


Leucospermum cordifolium, or “pincushion”, another flower from the fynbos:


The 7-story rain forest mountain, “Cloud Mountain”, with a scary walkway at the top. The whole structure is completely covered with plants:


Another view from Wikipedia. There are artificial waterfalls cascading down from the top, and the whole thing gets misted from hidden nozzles several times a day. We were there at “misting time”, which gives the whole structure an unreal, cloudy aspect.


Back to Melissa’s photos:




A garden of pitcher plants:


The top of Cloud Mountain with the walkway down. I don’t know how they affixed all those plants to the tower, and maintenance must be difficult!


23 thoughts on “Writer’s wildlife photos: The flowers of Singapore

  1. Your first flower is a Gazania. It’s a South African native daisy, very drought tolerant, and a pretty but weedy pest in my part of the world (South Australia).

    The last of your flowers looks like something from the genus Erica, possibly one of the African heaths.

  2. The orchid under the text “Back to Melissa’s photos:” looks like Anacheilium radiatum, a fairly common orchid here in Costa Rica. The second one down from that it is too, but I can’t seem to find an ID for it.

  3. The second of Melissa’s photos is a fuschia – one of my favourites. There are are lots of different colours and colour combinations. I have one similar to this in my garden.

  4. Could we build something like that in the U.S. with the amount of dosh the Ark Park cost? What a beautiful “real” attraction.

    1. we do have some great zoos and botanical gardens in the US, perhaps Omaha Zoo’s rainforest and desert domes are similar, but without the mixture of space age coolness and vertical accessibility. The real problem is if we built something like that, Pauly Shore might come out of retirement and hide inside it.

  5. Oh my. Gosh. Lord. Gee. My word. Heavens.

    The only aspect that would make an experience like this better is eating Hainanese Chicken Rice in a restaurant overlooking this wondrous display of plants and flowers. 🙂

  6. The 10th floral foto (white w/ green and stripes orchid) resembles Chloraea something or other;
    11th floral foto (light and dark purple orchid)likely of Arundina graminifolia or Bamboo orchid.

    Orchids are so erotic-looking; I love that miniature one which resembles Platystele filamentosa but I’m not sure at all what it is.

    1. Proust uses the erotic potential of orchids in a famous passage: Swann has given Odette a cattleya orchid to wear on a carriage ride, using the pretence of rearranging it on her breast to initiate a caress –

      ‘And long afterwards, when the rearrangement (or, rather, the ritual pretence of a rearrangement) of her cattleyas had quite fallen into desuetude, the metaphor “Do a cattleya,” transmuted into a simple verb which they would employ without thinking when they wished to refer to the act of physical possession….’
      Swann’s Way 1: 331

  7. I understand Singapore has anhihilated all of its once plentiful tropical rainforest; some mangrove may still exist.

  8. but I’ll start off with a few of mine. I have no IDs for mine,

    Last week I was doing a presentation on “microphotography 1.0.1” for a local natural history society’s “Microscopy Section” last week, during which I drew attention to the problems of finding the damned photos again after you’ve taken them, and consequently the importance of “metadata.”
    My favourite lazy bar-steward trick for tackling this problem is to photograph the relevant signs, name tags, etc immediately on finishing a series of shots of a subject. Damned-all use out in the wild unless you happen to carry a chalkboard, chalk and a cloth, or a diver’s slate with pencil & eraser – both of which I have been known to do. But since the telly is just repeating a programme on St Mawes Castle in Cornwall, where I did the same thing with the exhibits on Henryicean gunnery, it’s a trick worth reminding people of.
    Of an evening, I then go through the digital photos, and I have enough information on the SD card to be able to write up my notes for the day, and put sufficient information into the EXIF “comment” section of each image that I can find, for example, photos of “puffball” and “fungi” taken any October from 1998 (my first digital camera) to last Sunday. Or all photos of “sandstone”, under “UV” illumination, from Gabon or Turkey, taken in the last 3 years. It’s moderately tedious, but it does help you find things again. With 200 photos from the 1990s, 16000 from the 2000s, and some 45000 from the 2010s (probably some duplication there), you need some degree of system.

    1. Good point! Working in a library makes me particularly aware of that. It is part of what they call ‘knowledge management’…

  9. What a beautiful and creatively-designed place! Breathtaking.

    Most of the orchid photos are of Latin American species. And the pitcher plant garden photo consists of North American plants (though I do see an Asian Nepenthes flower stalk in the background).

  10. Singapore is a city state and pretty heavily built up but there are some interesting areas still where nature persists. If you get the chance be sure to visit Bukit Timah – a patch of remaining tropical forest and also to Sungei Buloh – a nice nature reserve in the mangroves – wading birds, mudskippers, monitor lizards…

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