Welcome to Singapore's

TREE OF LIFE

A 3km-long Tree Trail to be launched at the Civic District will feature the ubiquitous Rain Tree that has been part of our city's natural landscape. But did you know that the tree itself provides habitat to a vast array of local fauna and flora? Scroll down to find out more.

If you're on mobile, turn your phone to landscape for the best experience.

Birds

Keep your eyes peeled for the Common Iora (left) who disappears to hunt for insects in the trees, and the Collared Kingfisher (right), the most common Kingfisher in Singapore.

birds
insects

Insects

The Carpenter Bee's (right) shiny abdomen is unlike the bumble bee's hairy one, and the Painted Jezebel (left) might just pay you a visit on the ground where it goes to find nectar.

Other animals

Besides birds and insects, reptiles and mammals live near the rain tree too. The Paradise Tree Snake (right) might slither its way near you, looking for lizards for lunch, and the Plantain Squirrel (left) can be seen scurrying around, looking for food and nuts.

other-animals
plants

Plants

Did you know that the rain tree is also a host to a variety of epiphytes - plants that grow off another plant? One of these is the Pigeon Orchid (left) which is named for its resemblance to a pigeon, with its pearly white colour. The Bird's Nest Fern (right) was traditionally used to obtain a lotion to cure fevers.

Click on the slideshow to find out more about the rain tree's ecosystem.
This slideshow works best on desktop. To view on mobile, turn your phone to landscape.
A 3km-long Tree Trail to be launched at the Civic District will feature the ubiquitous Rain Tree that has been part our city’s natural landscape. But did you know that the rain tree itself provides habitat to a vast array of local flora and fauna? LINETTE HENG and infographics journalists CEL GULAPA, HO YAN HAO and TEOH YI CHIE identify some of the living things the tree lends a virtual ecosytem to...
A 3km-long Tree Trail to be launched at the Civic District will feature the ubiquitous Rain Tree that has been part our city’s natural landscape. But did you know that the rain tree itself provides habitat to a vast array of local flora and fauna? LINETTE HENG and infographics journalists CEL GULAPA, HO YAN HAO and TEOH YI CHIE identify some of the living things the tree lends a virtual ecosytem to...
Common IoraThis small bird is hard to spot because it usually hunts for insects in the tree canopy. Its eggs are greenish-white and it can be heard singing most of the time.
Tap or move your mouse around to explore
Collared KingfisherThis aggressive bird is the most common kingfisher in Singapore and hunts a variety of prey from fish, prawn, crabs to lizards, small snakes and insects.
Common FlamebackThis brightly coloured woodpecker is usually found on the lower part of the trees. It is often seen in pairs and the male birds are brighter coloured than their female counterparts.
Olive backed SunbirdThis small bird forages for nectar on tree tops and lower bushes by clinging to a nearby stem. It has a bold personality, and often nests close to humans.
Yellow-rumped FlycatcherYellow-breasted bird catches and eats flying insects, especially in short flights from a perch. 
Birds
OrioleThis colourful bird has a distinctive bright yellow mantle and is usually found at the tree canopy. It feeds on fruits and insects and makes a harsh cat-like noise occasionally.
Striped AlbatrossThis butterfly is most active in sunny weather and frequently visit flowers for nectar. The wings of the male form of the striped albatross is white while the female striped albatross is black.
Painted JezebelThis brightly coloured creature can be found fluttering at tree-tops in the day. They only descend to lower ground for nectar, or to rest in the shade.
Insects
Common MormonThis butterfly is often spotted flying erratically and can also be found in urban gardens. The female form of the common mormon is more graceful, and tends to glide slower.
Carpenter BeeThis bee is often mistaken as bumble bees. It has a shiny abdomen, compared to the bubble bee’s hairy one. It is a solitary creature and often nests in the woods.
Flower The flowers of the rain tree are found in clusters and are slightly fragrant. When the rain tree blooms, its entire crown will be covered in a shade of pink and white. 
FruitThe fruit of the rain tree is a thick, elongated pod, which is fleshy on the inside, with numerous seeds. It is 20-24cm in length and ripens to a black colour.
Staghorn FernIt is usually found in a high rainforest canopy. This fern produces 3 different types of leaves - large upright green photosynthesizing leaves; long downward hanging leaves which bear spores, and brown broad leaves that curl inwards and forms a spongy centre which absorbs water and collects minerals. 
Pigeon OrchidThis flower is pearly white, with a tinge of light sulphur yellow in the middle and its shape resembles a pigeon when viewed from above. It has a distinctive scent, and only blooms for a day, which leaves a short opportunity for pollination to be carried out. 
EPIPHYTESPlants that grow upon another plant and derives moisture and nutrients from the air and rain. 
Plants
Bird Nest FernThis large fern is commonly found at the base of the large branches in a rain tree, Its leaves were traditionally used by the Malay to ease labour pains in childbirth and also to obtain a lotion to treat fever. 
LeavesThe leaves fold up in the evenings. That’s why the Malays call it Pukul lima, which means 5 o’clock. They also close when the sky is overcast, thus the name Rain Tree. 
Civet CatThis nocturnal mammal - which is more closely related to the mongoose rather than a cat - prefer staying in trees and high places, and can occasionally be found in the roof tops of buildings too. The shy creature is identified by the black ‘mask’ on its face.
Animals
Plantain SquirrelThis agile and quick creature can be found in the trees and undergrowth, foraging for fruits and nuts. It is active in the day and relies on its good eye sight, sharp claws and long tail to scamper around undetected. Some squirrels construct their own nests in the tree branches.
Paradise Tree SnakeThis black fanged creature can also be found in the mangrove, parks and gardens. Its venom is weak, and it climbs trees to look for its prey, tree-dwelling lizards.
PUKUL LIMAMalay for ‘five o’clock’, the time the tree’s leaves close. The sunset hour in S’pore used to be 5pm before changes  are made to standard time. 
CATTLE SHADEPlanted generally as an ornamental tree, it has been adapted in many countries as shade for cattle.  
UMBRELLA SHAPEThe tree can grow up to 30m in height with an umbrella shaped crown spreading up to 30m across. 
MOST COMMONThe most commonly planted tree in Singapore due to its superior shade, with an estimated 26,000 in existence. 
FLAKEYThe bark is dark brown, rough and flaky in mature trees.
FERTILEThe seeds readily germinate into seedlings and sometimes while still inside the pod.
ORIGINIt is not native to Asia. Rain trees came originally from South America. 
Tree Trail
THE TRAIL Now, some of the Civic District’s trees are to get greater recognition as part of a 3km-long Tree Trail to be launched by the National Parks Board on May 1. It will include monthly guided walks and markers at all 20 stops along the route. Among the highlights of the trail is an avenue of 22 heritage rain trees along Connaught Drive.      

Getting to the trail