NParks to introduce more orchid species along Orchard Road

Lynda Hong Channel NewsAsia 14 May 10

SINGAPORE : NParks wants to have more orchid species along Orchard Road.

A rare Tiger Orchid seedling, which belongs to 43 critically endangered or rare species in Singapore, is being planted on a tree on Orchard Road.

The planting marks the launch of the Orchid Conservation Fund by the Garden City Fund, which received S$10,000 from TANGS department store and Clarins skincare.

The Fund aims to propagate and re-introduce rare and endangered orchid species back to Singapore.

Once home to 226 native wild orchid species, Singapore now has only 48 species left, and only five are common.

To further raise public awareness, a native orchid display, entitled Orchids: A Conservation Story, will be put up in TANGS department store.

The orchid showcase will serve as a sneak preview of the Singapore Orchid Show, to be held in conjunction with the Singapore Garden Festival in July.

- CNA/al

Orchids' road
Endangered and rare orchid species will now be protected, thanks to a new fund
tay suan chiang Straits Times Life 15 May 10;

Extinct in the wild, the Dendrobium leonis Dr Yam Tim Wing is holding will be reintroduced. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

An orchid may be Singapore's national flower - the Vanda Miss Joaquim - but in the wild, things are not so blooming great for the hybrid's relatives, the native orchids.

Of Singapore's 226 species of native wild orchids recorded locally, 178 of them are now extinct. Of those that cling on, a massive 43 species are either critically endangered or rare.

Step forward Dr Yam Tim Wing, Singapore's saviour of native orchids.

Over the last 10 years, he has been conserving the country's native orchids as part of a programme that has just been expanded to include planting more rare species in urban areas. It is even putting the 'orchid' into Orchard Road.

He has propagated and reintroduced five species of orchids that were considered critically endangered or extinct.

To help save Singapore's flowers, the National Parks Board (NParks) launched an Orchid Conservation Fund yesterday. It hopes to raise $250,000 for the purpose.

The fund aims to conserve and reintroduce rare native species onto Singapore's streets. This is part of NParks' efforts to increase the biodiversity of roadside trees and nature areas and make Singapore's roadside greenery more interesting.

Already, two organisations - Tangs department store and premium French skincare brand Clarins - have donated $5,000 each to the fund.

The public can donate, too. A donation of $50 and upwards will enable an orchid to be planted.

The fund's launch got off to a dazzling start last night: Representatives from the two companies and NParks planted a seedling of the rare tiger orchid on a yellow flame tree outside the Tangs store in Orchard Road.

This is the first time a native orchid has been reintroduced to Orchard Road.

Mr Foo Tiang Sooi, chief executive officer of Tangs, says: 'The reintroduction of rare orchids into the cityscape will not only help in the promotion of orchid conservation, but it is also a great way for the public to experience the wonders of nature on Orchard Road.'

Mr Christian Courtin-Clarins, Clarins' chairman, adds: 'By caring for and giving back to the environment, we ensure our success for generations to come.'

Dr Yam, 50, a senior researcher for orchid breeding at NParks, says: 'Native orchids have disappeared because of habitat loss.' In the past, wild orchids could be seen in mangrove areas and forests, which have made way for development.

The Hong Kong-born and now Singapore citizen has been studying orchids since 1985. He loves them because 'they are beautiful and have unique shapes'. He is no stranger to orchid conservation, having done his PhD on the topic for native orchids in Hong Kong.

The father of two teenagers came to Singapore and joined NParks in 1991 as the 'Botanic Gardens was known for its orchid programme'. Naturally, he grows orchids - hybrid ones - at home, too.

Together with his team, he sometimes still heads into forests and nature reserves and, on rare occasions, discovers native orchids thought extinct.

Dressed in a long-sleeved shirt, he takes along his binoculars, camera, plastic bags, secateurs, and food and water.

He photographs the orchids he finds and takes part of the plants back to the nursery to wait for them to flower so he can confirm the species. It can be a sweaty affair being in the forest. 'I come out drenched. But it is worth it when I see a rare orchid,' he says.

Some native orchids bloom only a few times a year while others, such as the tiger orchid, bloom only once a year.

The Botanic Gardens has some native orchids in its nursery that Dr Yam uses for propagation. For rare orchids that are not available, such as the tiger orchid, he buys them from overseas nurseries.

'Depending on the species, it can cost about $10 a plant to about $100,' he says.

The orchids bear fruit, and their seeds are collected to germinate in a laboratory. They are later grown on fern bark till they are big enough to be planted on trees.

It takes about a month to grow about 2,000 orchids. Using a crane to reach the higher branches of a tree, Dr Yam attaches an orchid to the branch. 'The orchid roots will grow and cling onto the branch,' he says. He returns to check on the orchids every week for the first two weeks, and then once every two months.

He has reintroduced 3,000 plants of five native species over the last 10 years. More than 80 per cent of these planted on trees in parks and nature areas have survived. In time, they will self-propagate.

He now wants to reintroduce at least two species each year over the next three years. They will be planted in locations such as parks and nature areas, and also along Napier and Holland roads, and the East Coast Park Expressway.

'More people can enjoy the beauty of these orchids,' he says.

Orchid's name is for life

What do Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, Queen Elizabeth II and actor Jackie Chan have in common? They all have orchids named after them.

Singer Stephanie Sun is the first Singaporean celebrity to have an orchid, Dendrobium Stefanie Sun (above), named after her.

Last Saturday, Bocelli became the latest celebrity to have an orchid given his monicker in the Singapore Botanic Gardens' collection. The Vanda Andrea Bocelli has flowers that are purplish pink with purple spots.

The first VIP orchid here was the Aranthera Anne Black, after the wife of the first governor of Singapore, Sir Robert Black, in 1956.

Since then, Singapore has named more than 100 VIP orchid hybrids, including over 60 for visiting heads of state, such as Jordan's King Abdullah II and Myanmar's Premier Thein Sein. These are placed in a VIP Orchid Garden in the National Orchid Garden, located within the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

The Orchid Garden also has celebrity orchids, including those named after Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and Korean actor Bae Yong Jun.

A spokesman for the National Parks Boards, which manages the Singapore Botanic Gardens, says: 'Orchid-naming is a way to welcome important guests to Singapore. They are usually people who have made significant contributions in their fields.'

He adds: 'Orchids selected for orchid- naming are new hybrids that are the result oftheGardens' orchid-breeding programme.'

But for $3,000 and up, the public can have orchids named after it too. Madam Lee Soong Ying, a project consultant at Orchidville orchid farm, says: 'Some name orchids as gifts or in remembrance of a loved one. A man named one after his fiancee as he wanted to propose to her.'

The farm picks the hybrids for naming and the customer chooses the final plant. The proposed name is then sent to the Royal Horticulture Society in London for approval.

Madam Lee says the society is regarded as the international orchid registrar. Once a name is approved, it will go down into the society's records for life. 'The name of the orchid will be around for eternity,' she says.

Tay Suan Chiang

NParks media release 14 May 10

Singapore, 14 May 2010 - The spectacular sight of the world's largest orchid plant - the tiger orchid - in full bloom on Orchard Road might not be too far away if the organisers of the Singapore Garden Festival (SGF), as well as the European leader in premium skincare house Clarins and TANGS store can help it. This evening, Clarins' Chairman, Christian Courtin-Clarins and TANGS CEO, Foo Tiang Sooi, together with Director of the SGF, Dr Wong Wei Har, planted a tiger orchid plant (Grammatophyllum speciosum) on a yellow flame tree just outside the TANGS store along bustling Orchard Road.

The tiger orchid, together with most of the other 226 orchid species that are native to Singapore, have become extinct, mainly due to habitat loss. For the past 10 years, NParks has been painstakingly working on an orchid conservation and reintroduction programme. This initiative is aimed at propagating and re-introducing native orchid species into natural, semi-natural, and urban environments. We have witnessed substantial results. When the programme first started, some 3000 plants of five native species were planted, with a modest number of seedlings planted each year. More than 80% of the orchids planted on trees in parks and nature areas have survived. In time, these orchids will self propagate.

The tiger orchid was chosen to be the first native orchid to be re-introduced to Orchard Road because it is a spectacular species, the largest orchid plant in the world and is already extinct in the wild in Singapore.

Launch of Orchid Conservation Fund

Today's tiger orchid planting on Orchard Road also marked the launch of the Orchid Conservation Fund, introduced by the Garden City Fund (GCF), NParks' registered charity and IPC. GCF was launched in 2003 by the then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to support the growth and development of Singapore's Garden City. Donations to this fund for orchid conservation will be used to propagate and reintroduce our rare and endangered Orchid species back into the streets, parks and nature areas.

A donation of $50 onwards will enable an orchid to be planted. Clarins and Tangs have contributed $5,000 each to help the Orchid Conservation Fund get off to a blooming start. The Fund aims to raise some $250,000 that will be used to support a few key activities: monitoring existing orchid species, exploring ways to conserve them, increasing their numbers through subsequent re-introduction into appropriate habitats, research and education. From the start of 2010, NParks is reintroducing two new native species every year over the next three years. They will be planted at locations with the right environmental conditions where people can see and appreciate their beauty. These areas will include parks and nature areas and even along tourist corridors like Napier Road, Holland Road and the East Coast Park Expressway near the budget terminal.

Members of the public can also grow their own native orchids at home by buying the plants from some local nurseries. A public talk on how to grow these will be conducted by NParks at HortPark on Sat, 15 May, 3-5pm. Those interested in finding out more can email

Dr Wong Wei Har, Festival Director, said: "I would like to thank our partners, Clarins and TANGS for their support of the Singapore Garden Festival, and for their help in putting together this beautiful orchid display around TANGS Orchard, which provides shoppers with a sneak preview of the Singapore Orchid Show segment at July�s Singapore Garden Festival. Orchids are a big part of our national heritage. The launch of the Orchid Conservation Fund goes a long way in allowing us to take the necessary steps to conserve native species of orchids, and to provide us with the opportunity to introduce more species of orchids into the Singapore Cityscape, like the tiger orchid that we planted today outside TANGS Orchard."

"Fully aware that it owes everything to Nature, Clarins has always been committed to protecting the planet's natural resources. Reflecting our core values of listening and respect that naturally contributed to the adoption of a line of conduct, we are committed to the goal of sustainable development. Through this commitment, Clarins highlights its goal of promoting a sense of responsibility among all employees and developing innovative solutions to assure the sustainable development of the Company in a manner that is respectful of mankind, nature and love of life. At Clarins, we know that everything is linked, and by caring for and giving back to the environment, we ensure our success for generations to come. With this, we are proud to be the first organisation to support the Garden City Fund's Orchid Conservation Fund, an important initiative to help the survival of our native orchids," says Christian Courtin-Clarins, Clarins' Chairman.

"We are truly delighted to join NParks and Clarins in their efforts at orchid conservation. As a company with nearly 80 years of history, we understand the importance of preserving our heritage for generations to come. The reintroduction of rare orchids into the cityscape will not only help in the promotion of orchid conservation, but is a great way for the public to experience the wonders of nature in the very heart of Orchard Road." says Mr Foo Tiang Sooi, CEO of TANGS.

Orchid Display at TANGS Orchard and Singapore Garden Festival

For those who cannot wait for the tiger orchids to bloom and are eager to catch a glimpse of more native orchids, Singapore Garden Festival, Clarins and TANGS Orchard have put up a display entitled Orchids: A Conservation Story in the department store to raise public awareness about native orchids and conservation avenues. These native orchids, along with many others, will also be showcased at the Singapore Orchid Show, held in conjunction with the Singapore Garden Festival later in July.

The Singapore Garden Festival, Asia's best flower and garden show, will return to Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre from 15 to 22 July 2010. The Festival is the only one in the world to bring together top award-winning garden and floral designers from around the world, under one roof. For more information, please visit