Sunday, July 22, 2007

No durians without mangroves?

Three NAKED facts

Question: How many of you like durians?

Question: What do you think pollinates the durian flowers?
If no one guesses right away. "I'll give you some clues: the durian flower looks like a pom-pom, it's white and it blooms at night" Eventually someone will guess bats.
naked fact #1: These bats only drink nectar and eat pollen. They don't eat fruits, they don't eat insects.

Question: "How often does the durian tree flower?"
Eventually they will realise once or twice a year. (We get durians year-round in Singapore because we import them from different places)

Question: "So what do these bats feed on when the durian is not in bloom?" If these bats relied only on durian flowers, they would starve to death.

naked fact #2: Mangrove trees like the Perepat (Sonneratia) have similar pom-pom-like flowers. Bats also feed on the nectar and pollen produced by these trees.
Such trees bloom more regularly and thus support a population of these bats. With more bats, more durians are likely to be pollinated.

naked fact #3: Without mangroves we may have fewer or even no durians!

Where to do this story? Preferably where the visitors can see a Perepat (Sonneratia) tree. As it is a long story, don't do it where it's hot, or mosquito-infested.

To ID a durian tree:
the long narrow leaves are dull green on the upperside and bronzy on the underside. The branches are somewhat angular and usually sparsely leafed.
Of course if there are durians on the tree, that's a dead giveaway!

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