An Ageing Tree

Every time his children suggested chopping down the tree, Haji Bakri withdrew into himself. He kept silent. They were unaware of just how strongly Haji Bakri felt about the tree. To him, the tree was his soul. The tree was his life. He was very sure that if the tree died, he would die; or if he died, the tree would die. It was strange how the human mind thought sometimes.

His children did not know that the tree was as old as him and had witnessed his life’s journey. “If the old tree is to be brought down, it means that this old person here ought to die too. I am old and useless too.” These words often plated in Haji Bakri’s mind. He felt offended every time his children mentioned cutting down the tree.

Last evening, when his youngest child Salimah had brought up the matter again as the family sat on the verandah, Haji Bakri had snapped.

“What sin has the tree committed that all of you want to cut it down? None of you can see what the tree has done for others. Look at those birds, the tree is the home they return to every evening. To passer-by, the tree provides shade from the hot sun. It may be old, but it is still useful. But all of you, what have you contributed to your race, religion and country? Haji Bakri had grabbed his walking stick and risen from the rattan chair.

“You do not understand how much the tree has sacrificed for me and all of you,” he continued. “And yet, it does not ask anything of you. It lives on its own, getting sustenance from Allah. Neither does the tree trouble you. You children should realize that the tree is me and I am the tree. If you cut it down, it means you are killing me.”

Excerpt from An Ageing Tree by A. Wahab Hj. Hamzah
Tenacity: Stories built to last, Pg 158-159
Translated from Malay, Sebatang Pohon Tua


Largest tree in Singapore?

Sentosa Tree

With its girth of 10.2m, the largest tree in Singapore is located near the entrance of Shangri La Rasa Sentosa Resort. This angsana tree is believed to be planted by the British more than 100 years ago.
Former policeman Mr Yusri joined the resort as a gardener just 2 weeks after its opening and has been a caretaker of this tree since 1993. He loves it for the shade it provides with its large crown. In the early days, he and his team used to get up to the intersection between the branches to prune the tree, but as it got taller — it is now 27 metres high — they started to rely on contractors.
He also pays close attention to the tree’s health, regularly checking its fallen leaves to check if they are spotted, which is a sign of the fatal “Angsana Wilt” fungal disease.


Treehouse in Singapore?

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Back in 1991, a man who was left homeless after his zinc house was demolished decided to build himself a makeshift home on a mango tree near King Albert Park.

Do you know of any tree houses in Singapore today?

Source: The Straits Times, 15th November 1991


Childhood Tree

YY Saga Tree

Yin Ying’s favourite is an old saga tree on Mount Emily. She used to go there after kindergarten ended and spent a lot of time collecting saga seeds, competing with her brother to see who could find the most.

“We dug around among the roots as if they were excavation sites,” she says. “For us, the most highly prized saga seeds were the oddballs: the strangely formed seeds with flat edges and yellow gradients. The red ones were common.”


2 trees in 1?

2 in 1 tree 20150204_170513
It’s possible! We came across this interesting article from 1993 about a coconut tree that was lodged in a banyan tree. This 15-metre hybrid was spotted in a vacant plot of land near the Woodlands South Bus Interchange in 1993. Anybody knows if it’s still around?
Reference: The Straits Times, 22nd February 1993


One tree remains

Bukit Timah Hill

Only one tree remains of this former kampung at 15G Hindhede Road, which is also where Christopher Peh lived in 1975. Today we follow him back to his old home at the foot of Bukit Timah Hill. He remembers the houses were called ‘Black Houses’ and before his family moved in, and had been owned by Japanese people. This is the only tree that remains from the 1970s and he is very surprised that it is still here.


Hornbills spare 100 year old tree from the chain saw

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In 1995, a 100 year old Jelutong Tree sited at the edge of what was to be Sentosa’s newest theme park, Volcanoland, was spared after project owners found out that it was the nesting place of a pair of hornbills. The pair of hornbills that saved this Jelutong Tree stayed through the 14-month construction period. A vet was even called in when the male Hornbill fell ill from eating rubber pieces from the construction site.
Unfortunately, it was understood that both died a year later from food poisoning.
Reference: The Straits TImes 30 January 1995, The Straits TImes 22nd June 1996


“It seems inevitable that this tree might die soon”


Located at Venus Loop at MacRitchie, this fig tree has been the starting point of the Toddycats’ “Love MacRitchie Walks” since August 2013. The walks are part of an outreach campaign that supports the preservation of our Central Catchment Nature Reserve amidst plans to build an underground MRT tunnel across it.

Under this tree, guides explain the importance of figs in the ecosystem. The tree’s existence is not only uncertain due to redevelopment plans, it is also at the mercy of invasive plants such as the Zanzibar Yam and recent strong winds. Not long ago, it was seen upended, leaning on other plants and at the verge of toppling. However, its green leaves and figs hint at a determination to stay upright and survive and gives Chloe, a guide from Toddycats, a renewed belief in their campaign effort. “The fig tree might just make it. We might just succeed in convincing the government (to reconsider the alignment of the CRL)”.

Nature or sports enthusiasts who frequent the MacrRtchie area, do you have a tree that is special to you?

Story from Chloe Tan Yi Ting


“What if the tree was should be struck by lightning?” the owner told the reporter

Before NParks, there was little tree pruning and people worried about branches falling on passers-by. In 1954, this was the subject of an article in The Free Press (“Shop Owner Lives In Fear Of This Tree”). A shop owner at Gillman Close (off Ayer Rajah Road) worried about a fast-growing 100 ft tree that blocked the entrance to his shop.

Fear of Tree 2

The tree grew by 80 feet in less than 20 years and its roots left large cracks in the concrete slab and pavement. With no control over the tree’s growth, the shop owner worried that one of the branches may fall off and injure someone.

Fear of trees 1

Do you know of any monster trees?

Reference: The Free Press July 13 1954


Where is the tree of One Tree Hill?

One tree Hill

There are many trees that stand on One Tree Hill road today. Unfortunately, we don’t know if one of them is the namesake tree, or whether that tree has survived at all.

Here’s how it looked like in a picture from the Straits Times on March 8, 1936. The caption reads: “This is one of the few original jungle trees which survive in the suburbs of Singapore. It is also the tree which gives One Tree Hill its name. Its height can be judged from the rubber trees growing around it. The property known as One Tree Hill, off Grange Road, has been owned by Guthrie and Co. for many years.”