Saturday, December 24, 2011

Simpoh Air

If you ever stayed in Singapore before, you would surely be familiar with them. This is Simpoh Air,
Scientific name: Dillenia suffruticosa [Family: Dilleniaceae]. This distinctive shrubby tree grows vigorously on eroded soil, wasteland, forest edges and swampy areas. They are one of the common tropical flowering plants in Singapore. They are large shrubby tree can grow up to 6m tall, the large glossy green leaves, cheery big yellow flowers and pink star-shaped "fruits" make them very unique from others.
In old Singapore village time, the large leaves of the Simpoh Air were used to wrap food such as tempeh (fermented soyabean cakes), or formed into shallow cones to contain traditional "fast food" such as rojak.
The flowers are 8-10cm in width with five large thin petals, several flowers on a long stalk. They open at 3 am and last only a day. The petals drop off by 4pm and the sepals fold back on the young fruit in the evening. They are pollinated by bees which collect its pollen or by small beetles and flies that scramble over it. 
(The photo above shows the empty husk).
Almost every flower sets fruit. The flower stalk rotates slowly from pointing down when the flower blooms to pointing up when it starts to fruit. The unopened fruits are surrounded by thick red sepals. To distinguish them from flower buds, the fruits face upwards while flower buds face down. (You can see both of the flower buds and young fruit in the photo on the left.)

The fruits take exactly five weeks to set and opens at 3am, it splits open into pinkish star-shaped segments that contain 7-8 seeds enveloped by a fleshy red-coloured arils. The thin layer of red flesh surrounding the seeds is very attractive to birds which help to disperse the seeds across the landscape. The empty husk falls off at about 8am the following day.

These two Singapore stamps, the Simpoh Air (Dillenia suffruticosa) and the  Rhododendron (Melastoma malabathricum) with the value of 1st Local (26¢) and 2nd Local(32¢) respectively are part of the 2007 Flora & Fauna Definitive stamp series.
Linking up to Flowers On Satureday, Macro Flowers Saturday and Pink Saturday.
Merry Christmas!

4 comments:

Linda Makiej said...

so pretty!!! Happy holidays - and happiness in the new year!!

marit´s,,, said...

Sweet flowers.
Marit.

Jama said...

The leaves are still used in wrapping tempe( fermented soya beans), but wrapped inside the brown paper. Can be found in most wet market.

Ewa said...

beautiful plant!