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Photograph: Jason Yong via NParks

10 beautiful blooms you can find in Singapore

Take some time to smell the roses

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Written by
Cheryl Sekkappan
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Our local flora made waves in late March this year when they erupted in spectacular blooms. Trumpet trees, derum and cat claw ivy were among the flowers and plants that mustered up a show, thanks to a long and hot dry spell followed by heavy rainstorms. 

True to our reputation as a city in a garden, Singapore has a stunning array of 2,200 plant species, including many flowering trees and shrubs that beautify our sidewalks, parks and forests. Many are likely to be familiar – all you have to do is put a name to it. Here are some of the most beautiful blooms you can spot in Singapore, for the next time you head out into the great outdoors. 

RECOMMENDED: The best public parks in Singapore and The best plant shops in Singapore for indoor plants and more

Trumpet Tree
Photograph: Hanim Yahman via NParks

Trumpet Tree

Singapore's trumpet trees were the stars of social media earlier this year, when they bloomed spectacularly after a long and hot dry spell. Affectionately known as Singapore's cherry blossoms, these trees grow up to 35 metres tall and boast rosy pink flowers shaped like – you guessed it – trumpets. Upping the ante were the kayu ayang (derum) and pink mempat, which also showed off their beautiful blush coloured blooms in late March.  

Flowering season Typically March to May, and September to November 

Cat Claw Ivy
Photograph: Rayvert Goh via NParks

Cat Claw Ivy

Another star of this year's March-April flowering season is the cat claw ivy. The striking yellow flowers of these creeper plants were pictured along Havelock Road and Punggol East. The cat claw ivy is not native to Singapore, coming instead from Brazil and Central America, and was introduced only a few years ago to our city in a garden. 

Flowering season Typically March to May, and September to November 

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Tembusu
Photograph: Koh Soon Kiong via NParks

Tembusu

There are approximately ten heritage tembusu trees in Singapore, the most famous being the distinctive 'five dollar tree' (as it appears on the five dollar note) at Singapore Botanic Gardens. These slow-growing and long-living trees can be identified by their dark brown and deeply fissured bark, and also by the creamy white flowers that bloom fully and give off a sweet fragrance at sunset. 

Flowering season May and October

Bougainvillea
Photograph: Amy Humphries/Unsplash

Bougainvillea

The bougainvillea is everywhere on our island. This woody climber flowers all year round in Singapore's hot and wet climate, painting our streets in a riot of colour – magenta, purple, orange, red and white. You may be surprised to know that the colourful blooms are actually bracts (modified leaves). The bracts enclose the real flowers of this plant, which are tiny white things – helping to attract pollinators to them. There are many varieties of the bougainvillea too, including one named Bougainvillea 'Changi Airport' which sports spiky, purple bracts. For a great photo op with bougainvillea, head to Telok Blangah Hill Park. 

Flowering season All year round

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Ixora
Photograph: Hellmy/Flickr

Ixora

The flowers of the ixora are likely to bring back some fond memories. Most Singaporeans will remember plucking the stamen of this flower to get a taste of its sweet nectar. Kids are not the only ones attracted to this flower – butterflies are too. In fact, the ixora flower evolved its tube-like structure to match the proboscis of the winged insects. The Javanese ixora is a cultivated variety commonly found lining Singapore's streets, but there are many more blooming in shades of red, yellow, pink, orange and white.  

Flowering season All year round

Lantana
Photograph: safran7/Pixabay

Lantana

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet...but a lantana by any other would probably smell as rank! The lantana has an unfortunate name in Malay that means "chicken poop flower", called so because of the pungent odour it emits when the flowers are crushed. Nevertheless, the blooms of this non-native, evergreen shrub are pretty to look at. It's found both wild and cultivated in our landscape, dotting the greenery with vibrant pricks of orange, pink, red, purple and more. 

Flowering season All year round 

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Malayan Crape Myrtle
Photograph: Sng Hui Ting via NParks.jpeg

Malayan Crape Myrtle

Malayan Crape Myrtle trees produce purple flowers with the delicate and crinkled texture of crepe. These blossoms fade to a pale pink or white within a day or so, peppering the tree with multiple hues. But the flowers are not the only stars of the show here – the young leaves of the crape myrtle are a coppery red, flushing the landscape with the colours of autumn every once in a while. 

Flowering season Typically March to May, and September to November. High rainfall and cool temperatures can cause the green leaves to shed faster, revealing the red young leaves. 

Peacock Flower
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

Peacock Flower

With showy blooms to suit its name, the peacock flower blooms vigorously in full sun. The attractive petals are scarlet at the centre, transitioning to a pretty orange and yellow along the edges. They attract butterflies and bees, and are believed to have medicinal properties – the roots are said to cure convulsions, the bark for diarrhea, and the flowers for intestinal worms and sores. It's also the national flower of Barbados, hence its other name, "pride of Barbados". 

Flowering season All year round 

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Pigeon Orchid
Photograph: Kalthom binte Abd Latiff via NParks

Pigeon Orchid

According to NParks, 650 to 700 orchid species in the Asian tropics exhibit a flowering pattern known as 'gregarious flowering'. That usually happens when a drop in temperatures (typically after heavy rainfall) triggers a simultaneous blooming of orchid flowers in the same area. The pigeon orchid last did so in January this year (alongside the magrah batu), revealing ephemeral white petals with yellow necks that sadly, last for only a day. 

Flowering season Nine days after a heavy rainstorm

Frangipani
Photograph: Swaminathan/Flickr

Frangipani

The frangipani is not an unfamiliar flower to most of us. This small and fast-growing tree produces bouquets of white flowers with wide, curving petals and yellow-orange hearts. The frangipani blossoms are sweet-smelling, but over in Singapore, they have a bit of a spooky reputation. Malays believe that if you smell the fragrance of a frangipani at night – don't look behind, there could be a pontianak lurking. 

Flowering season November to April 

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