Chong Kwek Yan
Kwek Yan is a graduate student with the Plant Systematics Laboratory at the Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore. The total flora of Singapore project is the fruit of his undergraduate Honours year research thesis. His research interests are: alien plant naturalization and invasion, phylogenetic community ecology, urban ecology, plant biodiversity and conservation. He also struggles to keep up on topics and taxa that his supervisors and lab mates work on, such as: plant phylogeny and systematics, pollination and seed dispersal, fig ecology and aroid diversity in Singapore. Other wandering interests include herpetology. He has recently been hauled up to a Johor Bahru court of law for jaywalking, and has been the laughing stock of Malaysians and Singaporeans alike ever since.
Alex is a final year undergraduate student at NUS. He has been with the Plant Systematics Laboratory since he did his Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program in Science (UROPS) project in his second year (which was about compiling a checklist of beach forest species for the Southeast Asian region). Having thoroughly but perversely enjoyed himself, he went on to do another UROPS in his third year, mapping out the vegetation types in the Central Catchment Nature Reserves. He is now producing a vegetation map of the whole of Singapore for his final year project. His (dried and shrivelled) dream is to do some real plant systematics, especially on the Smilacaceae family, but also seems to have found a new love in Landscape Ecology. He screams at the sight of blood and regularly talks to small figurines of anime characters (small girls) on his desk.
Siyang is a research assistant under a joint project between the Plant Systematics Laboratory and the School of Design and Environment. His earlier encounters with anything photosynthetic includes spending his final undergraduate year researching on coral productivity in the Marine Biology Laboratory. He also has a fetish for sea cucumbers and butterflies. However, when it comes to gastronomic preferences, he gives anything short of the Ipomoea genus a wide berth. His dress sense and great rail-perching skills have convinced us that he truly lives in Hougang. After his latest trip to Vietnam, he has further strengthen his resolve to get a Vietnamese bride.
Chung Yi Fei
Yi Fei was formerly a research assistant based in the Plant Systematics Laboratory, but is now in the service of Singapore’s parks authority. In his undergraduate days, he was interested in mammalogy, and did a UROPS project on civet cats. He is most well accomplished in two things: (1) maintaining a messy table littered with Spinelli cups, biscuit containers, and mouldy bread, and (2) jokes so lame that you’d think you’re having lockjaw. We think that one day a new organism will evolve from the ecosystem he leaves around himself. On a less serious note, he is a firm supporter of yellow t-shirts and clean elections in his home country.
Yeo Chow Khoon
Chow Khoon is the second oldest man in the lab, and we remind him so very often. His rippling biceps and pectorals, however, remind us in return that our lives are in mortal danger, so we try to restrain ourselves. Eons ago (oops), he did a UROPS on the foxtail palm, and for his Honours, he reviewed the grapevine family for Singapore. In his Masters, he worked on the phenology and population genetics of Ficus superba. Besides palms, grapes and chempadak, he also has special interest in ferns. His other hobbies also include rock-climbing, and put plants together with that, you get a man on a tree. Chow Khoon insists that he is, generally, harmless, and that he knows violence isn’t the answer, but sometimes he gets it wrong on purpose.
Louise was formerly an Honours student of the lab, conducting vegetation plots in former plantations that were the major transformative force of Singapore’s landscape in our early modern history. Before that, she did a UROPS investigating the lower latitudinal range limits of temperate plants. She has difficulty waking up in the morning, and we think that she has an uncontrollable power that summons rain clouds especially when she’s feeling moody. We try to keep her powers in check by pairing her up with optimistic, chirpy co-workers so that we can finish up our fieldwork. Even as she is fast catching up with the rest of us on botany, she harbours a secret longing to be a birder.
We warmly welcome any offers of additional information or suggestions for corrections! Simply leave a comment on this page.
Author guidelines for species write-ups
Please use the Syngonium podophyllum entry as an example when you write a new entry. Although the purposes of our blog are (1) to facilitate community contributions to our collective knowledge of local flora and (2) communicate this information in an accessible and readable manner to the general public, a pain-in-the-ass consistent format will make the entries look neater and presentable while maintaining a high quality of science. Blame this on my indoctrination by one of my thesis supervisors! I have already tried to keep housekeeping rules to a minimum and as painless as possible.
To reduce the size of the blog, upload photos at the exact resolution as it will be displayed in the blog. Crop away unnecessary background and zoom in on the feature you want to show.
Add a caption below the picture in the following order: Location; Habitat; Year when the picture was taken. Put ‘cultivated’ for the habitat if it is a cultivated plant. Photographs not belonging to any of the contributors need to be acknowledged as follows, e.g., Photograph © Tan Ah Lian.
Add the picture description in the alternative text, i.e., the words will show up if the mouse is hovered over the picture.
References should be cited as much as possible, and the full reference added to the Bibliography page.
If the essay-writing becomes painful, you can choose to just lift entire sentences or keywords from the reference source, but use the quotation box to enclose it. See examples. There are two main aims for adding details: (a) if it aids in identification or (b) if it points towards ecology of the plant, such as pollination, dispersal agents or adaptations.
Main Entries (in consecutive order)
Entry titles should be the Species name, without sub-specific epithets or authorships. See the example entry.
Full species name with authorship, listing sub-specific taxa if present and known.
State if native or exotic (or “likely exotic” or “possibly native” for those which we are not sure of), and conservation status if native, or naturalized status (casual or naturalized, or invading natural habitats, or only cultivated etc). If not cultivated only, please state if cultivated at all.
List synonyms used in recent literature. See example.
<first slot for a photograph, if the best or only available one does not fit into the categories for the other slots>
Growth Form or Habit
Should at least state if woody or herbaceous, preferably whether tree or shrub (for woody), prostrate or creeping or erect (for terrestrial herbs), climbing or epiphytic (for non-terrestrial herbs). Even better if can provide an estimate of size (or height from ground for epiphytes and climbers). Qualifications and intermediates, such as “shrub or small tree” or “sometimes climbing (scandent)” or “hemi-epiphytic” are okay, as long as comprehensible.
<another slot for a habit shot>
Should be described at least whether compound (and degree thereof) or simple, type of insertion, sessile or petiolate, and margin type. Texture, odour, size, shape, stipule and venation descriptions are appreciated. The thing to remember is that this should help identification of a vegetative voucher as much as possible without being unreadable. Choice of technical terms should keep to those that are easily google-d or wiki-ed.
<a slot for a photograph that shows a whole leaf – diagnostic features best>
Information may not be always available or even useful. Some possible information can include whether stems are hairy or presence of prickles or thorns. Special roots such as aerial or prop roots can also be mentioned. State also presence/absence of vegetative propagation. More helpful than words is…
<…a photo, if it helps in identification>
Ecological interactions with fauna or other flora involving vegetative parts e.g. hosts caterpillars, can be mentioned here in a new paragraph.
Can be described in terms of colour and whether it occurs solitary or as an inflorescence. A rough adjective for size is sufficient e.g. large or tiny. What would be really great is…
<… a shot of a whole inflorescence, that helps in identification>
Pollination syndromes can be elaborated on in a separate paragraph here.
Should be described, when photos are not available, whether simple, aggregate, or an infructescence, and whether dehiscient or not when dry, or colour if fleshy, etc. Rough sizes and special structures are good. If seed descriptions are more helpful for pointing out ecology, such as presence of an aril, please provide.
<shot of whole infructescence and/or seed(s)>
Dispersal syndromes should be mentioned in a separate paragraph here.
Full range of habitat types can be listed if known.
Approximate locations in mainland Singapore can be listed if rare, or if exotics are invading native habitats. Offshore islands can also be mentioned.
Gives the geographic range of the species. Approximations, such as “Tropical Asia” or “Malesia” are fine.
Can be mentioned if useful or interesting, especially relating to ecology. A description of how to tell apart similar species is encouraged. Also can include common names.
More pictures can be found at
List other sites which require permission to post, such as Flickr or hobby blogs.