The Green Beans

The Green Beans

Sunday 29 March 2015

Walk at the Venus Loop

During the our walk around the Venus loop, we came across a great variety of plants and animals which our friends Becky and Ingg sind took great patience to explain to us. We learnt about how plants in the forests developed special characteristics to defend themselves against predators. How organisms developed symbiotic relationships. We learnt to spot different types of squirrels and had the luck to spot a rare lizard ‘yellow striped tree skink’.

Fishtail palm: 

The irregular leaf ends imitate that of a leaf which has been eaten, acting as a deterrence for other animals to eat them.

Zanzibar yam:

This plant is poisonous so stay CLEAR! if consumed, it could cause temporary or even permenant loss of voice. (No wonder its leaves are not eaten)


These plants have established a symbiotic relationship with ants, where it houses and provides shelter for the ants in its hollow stems, and in turn the ants protect the plant when there is a foreign predator around.

Rare yellow striped tree skink

Draco sumatranis

My personal favorite: Strangling fig

One of my personal favorites that we stopped by was the Strangling fig. It was a special kind of tree that grew on pre-existing trees, wrapping itself around it to gain height and support. In doing so, the strangling fig would suffocate (hence the name ‘strangling’) the original tree causing it to die. As Kris had explained, this was an adaptation that the species had developed such that it could survive in the highly competitive rainforests, where light and resources were scarce. By growing on other trees and finally completely engulfing them, the strangling fig was gaining advantage of the energy and time the original tree had spent to grow. As such, it could reach a greater height and receive more sunlight to carry out photosynthesis in a shorter time. I found this phenomenon extremely interesting and was drawn to the way in which organisms within nature evolved such traits to ensure their survival. Being a biology student, I gained could relate these observations to Darwins theory of evolution, where organisms in an environment were in constant competition for survival, and thus the conception of ‘the survival of the fittest’. Looking at the fig tree, I was reminded that the rainforest was not as amiable an environment as we would like to imagine. In reality, if we were to look more closely, we would discover that it is a space where animals and plants are constantly acting to defend themselves and ensure their survival. The predator and prey reality was real, and as an ‘external’ observer, it was important to have a heightened sense of the place around us. As Becky had warned, we must not take for granted safety when we are in wild natural spaces. As a green bean leader, I was reminded of how important it was to remain vigilant and careful when bringing my fellow beans on a green bean walk.

Ending off the walk

There is a rich biodiversity in these forests and it would a real pity if the cross island line were to disrupt the natural habitat. Being part of this special guided walk by environmental advocates and nature lovers such as Becky, Ingg sind and Kris was an absolute privilege and looking at the green spaces through their eyes has made me discover the diversity of life around us and how important it is to care and protect it. As a green bean leader myself, having the chance to be guided by other passionate, external members has been both a humbling and eye-opening one for me. The experience truly enforced my belief in what the green beans represented and stood for; to foster a sense of appreciation and wonder towards nature. Judging by the feedback we had at the end of the walk by our new junior beans, they saw the value of fighting for the natural environment and preserving the rich biodiversity of our primary and secondary rainforests.

Post author: Jedrek Koh

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(Jedrek's other green beans reflecton blog- check it out! click on the link.)

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Pasir Ris Mangroves: New Beans

For our first walk with our newly minted beans, we decided to take a quick trip to Pasir Ris Mangroves. Lady Luck was shining down on us, and we had good weather, along with interesting finds during the walk.

The guides for the day were Jia le, Kristin and I (Vanessa), and we split up into small groups on different paths. The new beans were great walking companions and wildlife spotter: We spotted a large amount of mudskippers, found a grasshopper or two and other various insects or birds.

Pasir Ris Mangroves is a place particularly close to our hearts. Walking from the forested entrance of the mangrove, one can observe how the land melts seamlessly into silty land. Midpoint into the park, you need only look left and right to see the contrast between the dense verdant trees and the byzantine network of Mangrove roots and trees steeped in salt water. It was a effective means to get to see in person the connection between the different types of green spaces, reminding us how nothing in the nature is ever really isolated, and how our impact on one area may very well trickle down to other green spaces. The boardwalk kept us away from compacting the soil while we get to soak in the greenery, away from our usual concrete walls.

Looking forward to a new year with the Green Beans 2015/2016! Keep checking this space for updates on our various walks and exploits. :)

Sunday 9 November 2014

Exploring Southern Ridges

Us beans have been busy, and we've been exploring the Southern ridges, graciously guided by our guest nature guide Mr. Pinto. The Southern ridges covers a long stretch over Singapore. For many of us, we can easily identify the Southern Ridges trail via the iconic Henderson Waves, one of the many walkaways and paths that make up the Southern Ridges.

From one place to another, we spotted and saw a great number: Saw towering tembusu trees, smelt the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, peeked at the horticultural gardens at the Hort park and many more. We got to see the hidden landscapes in Singapore, and at times, the view was so different from the usual concrete mass that it seemed as if we were on another island.

Here's some photos from out walk:

 Fig fruit from a fig tree that has leaves with white undersides
 Us in front of the Simpoh Air, and a towering bamboo plant

 Pepper Potts: these grow well in the shade

 Eucalyptus Tree!

Until next time!
Post Author: Vanessa
Photographs: Darryl

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Green Beans at Pasir Ris Mangroves

Just last week, some of us beanies signed up for an engaging (and thoroughly exciting) walk with the Naked Hermit Crabs in the Pasir Ris Mangroves. The walk was conducted in the late afternoon, and to our luck, it seemed as if all the wildlife in the mangrove were out to meet us.

Bird calls filled the sky, butterflies danced in the rays of the setting sun, and mudskippers basked in the glow of the warm evening. We even spotted a shore pit viper! An adult shore pit viper at that, complete with red eyes and dark grey scales. It was camouflaged and calm amongst the general excitement and silent frenzy of cameras coming in from us on the boardwalk.

A little photojournal of details from the walk:

Spot the mudskipper!
Male mudskippers impress the ladies with pushups in the mud, flexing their pectoral fins. 
(We humans must have learnt it from them)
Spot the shore pit viper curled around a root

For a parting note, here's what Jia le, a fellow Green Bean, had to say about his experience during the walk:

"My memories of Pasir Ris Park were of the many races I had with my friends to the top of the spider web playground. Until recently, I was unaware that a mangrove actually existed in the park. 
Hidden behind all the horse riding, cycling and playgrounds, there lay a small 5 Ha mangrove, home to many species of trees and animals, and of course plenty of mudskippers grazing in the mud. Despite playing an important role of housing many endangered species and a protector of coastal areas, the mangrove may still remain transcendent to the public. But perhaps, this is how it retains its mysterious and captivating attributes that only reveal its little intricate ‘features’ like the Shore pit viper or the hermit crabs if one were to look hard enough. It seemed to me that nature likes to play hide-and-seek with us and is rather playful. I guess that is what draws me towards nature."