Raffles Garden in Fort Canning Park was named after the founder of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles. Apparently, besides a statesman, Sir Stamford Raffles was also an avid naturalist who spent his free time studying botany and wildlife.
Inspired by his love for plants, the Raffles Garden showcases the diverse plant species that Raffles encountered in Southeast Asia. It includes species collected, studied or planted by Raffles and his fellow naturalists.
Plants with edible fruit, leaves, and roots still form the base of many traditional dishes today. In addition, some of them have medicinal properties and are commonly used in traditional medicine.
Here are some the plants spotted in the garden. They are all very interesting. Some of them I didn't even know that it is possible to see them here. I will be sure to pay closer attention to them when I visit them again.
Garcinia atroviridis also known Asam Gelugor
The rind of the fruit is sliced thinly and dried into asam keping (sliced asam). Asam keping has a strong sour taste and is commonly used in Asian curries and soups. The young shoots are used in cooking and in ulam, a traditional Malay salad.
Asam gelugor is believed to be able to reduce cholesterol, facilitate weight loss, improve blood circulation and treat high blood pressure.
Theobroma Cacao or the Cocoa Tree
Theobroma cacao, also called the cacao tree and the cocoa tree, is a small evergreen tree in the family Malvaceae. Its seeds, cocoa beans, are used to make chocolate liquor, cocoa solids, cocoa butter and chocolate. The trees thrive in warm, humid climates. I guess Singapore climate is ideal.
Canarium Vulgare also known as the Chinese Olive Tree. I had no idea such a tree existed in Singapore.
Phaleria Marcrocarpa also known as Mahkota Dewa, literally meaning God's Crown in Malay. This is a dense evergreen tree. Its fruits, when ripe, are shiny and bright red.
Backhousia citriodora also known as Lemon-scented Myrtle
Leaves are added to shortbreads, paste dishes and marinades. They are also made into tea infusions and desserts, such as cheesecakes and ice-creams.
The plant contains the essential oil, citral, which produces a lemon scent when leaves are crushed. It is popularly used in cleaning products, cosmetics and air fresheners. The oil is also known to have antimicrobial and pest-repelling properties.
Parkia Speciosa also known as Petai locally
Petai is considered a super food by the locals. The peas in the pods have a very strong flavour, which is why locals call it the 'smelly peas'. They are usually cooked with sambal chilli, partly I guess to cover the strong flavour of the peas, which are believed to be able to cleanse the kidneys.
Besides the above, the Raffles Garden has many other herbal and spice plants commonly found in Singapore. They are useful ingredients for cuisines, adding and enhancing the flavour of the food. The locals believe they have medicinal values as well, although they are not scientifically proven.
These are ginger plants.
These are Pandan Plants. The extracts from the leaves are used to flavour cakes, and desserts.
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