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Short Notes on Nature Singapore

1 May 2016 | Singapore Flora Checklist |

photo The Singapore Flora checklist published in 2009 is my most-used reference. Currently, it is housed under the eBook section of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum website. Though published 7 years back, it is still the most recent and complete listing of plants (by scientific names) found in Singapore. As there is no picture in there, I did not find it useful when I first started out exploring plants. Now, it is a good tool for me to check on the correctness of when assigning scientific name to a plant found here. In the notes that littered in different pages in my website, this is most-linked publication. Needless to say, when the URL to this article changed, all those links were broken and I had to spend time fixing it to the new URL. This happened when Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research changed to become Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum in 2014.

To avoid this recurrence, I had written this page to provide a centralised link in my website to the actual publication. In case the URL changed again, this will be the only place that I need to update the link. Though it may take an extra click before reaching the actual publication, I think it is a better approach.

When this 277-page eBook was published in 2009, Siyang started a blog called The Total Vascular Flora of Singapore Online using the checklist as the base and started adding pictures to each names. However, he had stopped updating it since 2012 and moved on to pursue his Urban Forest website. This eBook is also an exclusively used reference in PIER website to determine the native-ness of a plant species in Singapore.

One important item that was not explained in the publication is the selection of the scientific names when a plant has several synonyms. Synonyms came about when someone published a scientific name to a new plant thinking that it is a newly discovered species but not knowing someone else in the past had already discovered and named it. In general, I refer to the Plant List website for accepted scientific names.

The eBook listed 4,180 species of plants. So far, my pictorial collection is 1,855 species including variants. Since many species in the checklist were indicated as extinct, I guessed my collection should have crossed the 50% mark of available plant species here. Furthermore, I do have some plant species that have yet to be listed in the eBook such as Acalypha arvensis, Athyrium accedens, Erigeron bellioides, and Fatoua villosa.

As a note, the full citation of this publication or eBook should be:
Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp. Uploaded 12 Nov.2009.

Update: 13 November 2022

Over the last 6 years, there is no further update on the 2009 Singapore Flora Checklist. However, NParks has embarked on a 10-year Flora of Singapore publication project though the website did not mention the start year. So far, volumes 1, 7 and 13 were published on 19 October 2019. I had started to reference to these publications in my recent notes to some of the plants in my website (e.g. Hedyotis prostrata). Below are the content in the 3 published volumes.

  • Volume 1: Introduction, overview, references and index.
  • Volume 7: 7 families - Cyperaceae, Eriocaulaceae, Flagellariaceae, Mayacaceae, Poaceae, Typhaceae and Xyridaceae.
  • Volume 13: 6 families - Apocynaceae, Eriocaulaceae, Gelsemiaceae, Gentianaceae, Loganiaceae and Rubiaceae.

As for the checking of accepted botanical name of plants, I had moved from the Plant List website over to Plants of the World Online website that was launched in March 2017 by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The Plant List website was no longer being updated and seemed to have migrated over to World Flora Online (WFO) website. The WFO project was launched in October 2012.

A good online resource for plant images worldwide is the iNaturalist website. For local online plant images, the largest database would be from the NParks' Flora & Fauna Web followed by the Biodiversity of Singapore website hosted by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

Update: 15 January 2023


In an update in this same page two months back (see above), I mentioned that there was no recent publication on the flora checklist of Singapore. I was wrong. There was indeed a very recent update published in The Gardens' Bulletin Singapore on 21 May 2022. I came across the publication when I was researching on the accepted name of Ruellia blechum, a plant that I previously named as Blechum pyramidatum (now designated as synonym).

Besides correcting and updating the information from the older checklists, the current version also include mosses, liverworts and hornworts, collectively known as bryophytes. It also mentioned that a new, third edition of the Singapore Red Data Book is currently in preparation and planned to be published in 2023. The second edition was published in 2008.

I will be updating the botanical names in my website using the new version as reference as I move along.

To use any of the image(s), please read the conditions carefully. To correct any error, please contact me.