Trees as fire breaks in Singapore?


The Eugenia grandis, also known as the Sea Apple Tree or Jambu Air Laut (local name) is one species that cannot be killed by fire.

In fact, the Sea Apple tree was planted here even before Singapore gained independence. The British did this to cope with flammable plants such as the Lallang that covered many parts of the island back then. Some of these fire breaks are still around today. The one in the picture was taken at Stevens Road in 1993. Let us know the next time you spot one!

Taken from: The New Paper, 6 November 1993


Search for the perfect rambutan produced in Singapore in 1960

Rambutan Tree 1

After 45 years of experimenting, Mr. Han Wai Toon who came to Singapore in 1915 managed to produce highly sought-after rambutans in his 2½ acre estate in Old Thompson Road. By combining the sweet and firm Sumatran strain with the juicy Batavian strain, he successfully turned the once sour fruit into something tasty. Mr. Han also had a rambutan tree which bore bright red rambutans on one side and pale yellow ones on the other, which he used to amuse his friends. We are planning to search for this mysterious ‘Han Rambutan Orchard’ and hunt down these rambutan trees. Do you know anyone who visited this Orchard?

Reference: “The long search for better rambutans”, The Singapore Free Press, 4 March 1960

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The search for Han’s Rambutan Orchard from the 1960s in Thomson Road leads us to an essay written by Lai Chee Kien, “Rambutans in the Picture: Han Wai Toon and Overseas Chinese Space in Singapore”. According to Chee Kien, this Rambutan Orchard not only produced famous sweet Rambutans by grafting various species of Rambutans together. His orchard was also called 愚趣园 (Yu Qu Yuan) which also become a place of leisure and art appreciation in 60’s for the famous art personalities at that time. His visitors and friends include the poet Yu Da Fu and the painters Xu Bei Hong & Lim Mu Hue. We are looking for this place with a map that is a painting by Lim Mu Hue! This is also Chee Kien’s second time looking for the Orchard.
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We believe several of the grafted Rambutan trees still exist in this area and the landscape, which is one of a slope, seems likely that the Orchard existed here.


Bidadari Tree to be Kept on Site

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“THIS TREE WILL BE KEPT ON SITE” Today we met up with Mr Goh in Bidadari. A large part of Bidadari is undergoing development right now but this tree will remain. The tree has an ID number 2197, a girth of 3.2m and height of 21m. This Bodhi tree, estimated to be more than 50 years old, is nature lover Goh Si Guim’s favourite tree in the former Bidadari Cemetery. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he used to train for his IPPT runs in the Christian part of the cemetery, and would race up the hill in the last leg of his run, passing by the tree. The perfusionist (someone who operates the heart-lung machine during cardiac surgery) knows the tree very well, having gone there for bird-watching, and observed the different phases the tree goes through. “To me,” he says, “the tree’s most magnificent hue is when it is golden against a pale blue sky.”


Singapore. Very Old Tree


Singapore, (very old tree) c.1904 Image courtesy of The National Archives, Singapore. Singapore, very old tree is named after a mysterious 1904 postcard from the national archives. It features a tall tree about which very little is known. If you look carefully, you can see a man standing below the tree to the right to show the sheer size of this tree. This tree, among many other tall historical trees have disappeared over the years but there are many that are still around.



SOTA TREE optimized

Many students in the School of the Arts (SOTA) in Dhoby Ghaut would be familiar with the big tree that protrude out of their stone steps. Despite being a matured tree, it has outgrown its original height and can now be seen creeping up to the 5th storey of the school building.

Estimated to be more than 60 years old, this grand old tree was spared alongside a Bodhi tree in the construction of the school. Founding principal Mrs. Rebecca Chew had proposed to keep the tree to preserve some greenery for SOTA, which being a school in the city centre, had no field.

In 2010, a branch fell off the tree, but thankfully did not hurt anyone. As Mrs. Rebecca Chew remembers, the fire engine that arrived on scene that day sank into the pedestrian pathway, because the new road couldn’t take the weight! She herself also has fond memories of seeing a family of squirrels and migrating swifts roost in its branches.