25 August 2010


This tree at the Singapore Botanic Gardens is undecided about its identity. Is it a Clusia rosea or is it a Clusia rosea 'Aureo-Variegata'?

From the Clusiaceae (Guttiferae) Family, the more common Clusia rosea is known by its common name Balsam Apple, Autograph Tree, Fat Park Tree etc. In its natural habitat, it usually starts its life as a hemi-epiphyte, when birds that feed on the fruit disperse its seeds onto other tree branches. The seed then germinates on the branch and its roots would continue to grow and eventually reach the ground. By then, the plant would slowly engulf the host tree and take over it.

Coming back to this tree, I was wondering if it was a Clusia rosea with green leaves that decided to sprout variegated leaves out on several branches or was it a variegated plant that is slowly reverting to its original form? But judging from the amount of green leaves and unstable variegation, I think it could be the former.

Sometimes, we behave like this plant too. Occasionally, we get bored with our normal selves and want to be different. So we try new things to stand out from our usual routine. Or at other times, we changed ourselves with time and aspire to revert back to who we were before the change occurred.

So what is the identity of this tree? But most importantly, which one are you? You decide.

A few links on the tree are provided below for reference: