The fig tree at Upper Seletar: Addendum

posted in: Plants | 4

Meng and Melinda Chan reported fondly on the Benjamin fig (Ficus benjamina) at Upper Seletar that eventually fell and was chopped down (left).

The tree was the focus point of many birds as well as long tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) whenever it figged. As it was sited in a less accessible site, unlike that at Bukit Timah (1, 2 and 3), it attracted few birders and thus was less known.

The posting attracted the attention of Prof Vilma D’Rozario, a Nature Society stalwart and Chairman of its Education Group, who wrote: “I remember this tree fondly and will miss it. My family and I, and Angie, stationed ourselves just by the tree in May when we were doing our Vesak Day duty of watching out for illegal animal release. We saw monkeys feasting on the figs of this tree – beautiful. But yes, it was hanging precariously over the water. I think Angie took a photo of me and my family, if I am not mistaken… did you Angie?”

Well, Angie Ng did take the pictures and kindly sent them to me, one of which is shown above. Vilma is in the centre, posing with her sister-in-law Adrianne, and niece Jillian (12) and nephew Andrew (7) – all members of the Nature Society (Singapore). The photograph was taken on Vesak Day this year at Upper Seletar. The group had chosen to ‘guard’ the water by the tree as this was a favourite release ground! And sure enough, they stopped three men from releasing four turtles and a family of four from releasing two baby red-eared sliders into the reservoir at that spot.

This clearly shows that there are nature lovers who are aware of this particular fig tree and are missing it now that it is there no more. As Vilma adds, “To me, the loss of this lovely fig tree is very sad indeed. I have on many occasions sat right by it, and enjoyed the vista before me. On Vesak Day this year, it was figging and there were macaques feeding on the figs.”

Any more people with fond memories of this tree shown above?

Input by Prof Vilma D’Rozario, images by Meng and Melinda Chan (top and bottom) and Angie Ng (centre).

4 Responses

  1. Is there any way to plant more figs trees around Sg? Since they attract so many animals to feast on its fruits.

  2. Fig trees are widely dispersed by birds especially. In the urban areas many strangling figs find their way to branches of wayside trees, cracks in older buildings, sides of drains, etc. But because of the aggressive nature of their roots they are invartiably removed. Figs, especially strangling figs, are not planted along our roads for the same reason. They may be grown in larger parks and open spaces.

  3. Hi, just wondering does tropical fig trees found in Singapore and Malaysia has any ecological values to the countries? If their roots are so agressive and attractive to (native?) birds, they should be encouraged to be planted more in the open space and let the avifauna to spread the seeds themselves. This is what other countries eg. NZ is doing on Podocarpus in order to enhance endemic urban biodiversity.

    Regards,
    Benjamin

  4. Fig trees have great ecological value. When figging, they attract flocks after flocks of different species of birds. It has been said that you hear a figging tree before you actually see it. Yes, they should be planted in open speces.

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