Wildflowers: Milkwort

Milkwort ~ Jukut rindik

Polygala paniculata

An upright plant with very small leaves and flowers. The leaves are very narrow and arranged alternately on the stem. Its flowers are white, bloom in  long clusters and produce black hairy seeds. Its common name, milkwort, is attributed to the belief that cows that eat more of it will produce more milk.

Status: Least concern, Introduced (Tropical America, Caribbean)

Habit: Annual herbaceous

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Unknown

Pollinators:  Possibly large bees and small flies

Soil: Clay, loam

Moisture: Moist, well-drained soil, does not tolerate dry areas

Shade: No shade

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Wildflowers: Coromandel

Coromandel ~ Rumput Israel

Asystasia gangetica

A relative of mint that grows close to ground in sunny and shady areas. It has white flowers with purple markings on the lowermost petal that acts as a landing pad for bees to rest as they feed. Its dark green, simple leaves occur in pairs opposite each other. It produces seeds in club-shaped capsules

Status: Least concern, Introduced (India)

Habit: Perennial herbaceous

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators, ground cover, host plant for butterflies (Junonia orithya)

Pollinators: Butterflies, bees

Soil: Loam, organic soils

Moisture: Moist soil

Shade: Partial shade, no shade

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Wildflowers: Purple cleome

Purple cleome ~ Maman

Cleome rutidosperma

A short creeping plant with diamond-shaped leaflets in groups of three. Its flowers have four, slender purple petals that curve upwards. It produces long green pods filled with seeds. This plant is usually found in shadier areas and it is good for attracting bees and small butterflies to gardens.

Status: Least concern, Introduced (Tropical Africa)

Habit: Annual Herbaceous

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators, ground cover, produces seeds for birds, butterfly host plant (Appias libythea, Leptosia nina)

Pollinators:  Large and small bees, wasps and flies

Soil: Loam, clay, organic soils

Moisture: Well drained soils

Shade: Shade, partial shade, no shade

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Wildflowers: Red flame

Red flame ~ Gempur batu

Hemigraphis reptans

A small creeper that grows close to the ground, usually in shady areas. It has oval leaves covered in rough hairs and growing out of the stem base. The undersides of the leaves are reddish or dark purple. A small, pale purple flower blooms from the central stem.

Status: Introduced (Pacific islands)

Habit: Annual herbaceous

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators, ground cover, butterfly host plant (Junonia hedonia)

Pollinators:  Large bees, small bees, butterflies, wasps and flies

Soil: Sand, clay, loam, organic soils

Moisture: Damp or well-drained soil

Shade: Shade, partial shade

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Wildflowers: Lavender sorrel

Lavender sorrel ~ Belimbing pasir

Oxalis barrelieri

A short plant with leaves made up of three oval leaflets. It has pale lavender flowers with a light-yellow centre. The flowers develop into fruit pods that look like small star fruits, hence the Malay name ‘Belimbing Pasir’. Leaves and fruits have a sour taste due to vitamin C but may be poisonous.

Status: Least concern, Introduced (Central and South America)

Habit: Annual herbaceous

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators, ground cover, produces fruit for birds

Pollinators:  Large bees, possibly small flies

Soil: Loam, clay, organic soils

Moisture: Well drained soils

Shade: Partial shade, no shade

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Wildflowers: Lindernia and Malayan Eyebright

Top: Lindernia crustacea, Lindernia nummularifolia ~ Kerak nasi

Bottom: Malayan eyebright ~ Kerak nasi Torenia polygonoides

You have to get really close to the earth to appreciate the beauty of these small plants, often found growing in between other plants.

Lindernias are purple with pointed leaves that are arranged in opposite pairs. Malayan eyebrights are white and red with four green ‘wings’ at the base of the flower. Eyebrights have rounded leaves.

Status: Least concern, Native

Habit: Perennial creeper

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators, ground cover, produces seeds for birds

Pollinators:  Large bees, possibly small flies

Soil: Sandy, loam, clay and organic soils

Moisture: Moist or well drained soils

Shade: Shade, partial shade, no shade

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Wildflowers: Buttonweeds

Left: Purple buttonweed
Spemarcoce oxymoides

Right: Toothed buttonweed
Spermacoce exilis

Tough plants that grow easily in cleared land. Their leaves are arranged in pairs opposite each other. Tiny, white flowers grow in clusters between the pairs of leaves, providing food for pollinators. Toothed buttonweed has green, oval leaves but Purple buttonweed has longer, purplish leaves.

Status: Least concern, Introduced/invasive (Central America)

Habit: Annual herbaceous

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators, ground cover

Pollinators:  Large bees, possibly small flies

Soil: Sandy, loam, organic soils

Moisture: Well drained soils

Shade: Partial shade, no shade

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Wildflowers: Coral vine

Coral vine ~ Air mata pengantin

Antigonon leptopus

A climbing plant with heart-shaped leaves and pink flowers that many species of bees visit to harvest nectar and pollen. The flowers have 5 petals and grow in large clusters. It produces small seed pods that burst to scatter the seeds.

Status: Introduced/Invasive (Central America)

Habit: Perennial climber

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators, produces seeds for birds

Pollinators:  Large bees, small bees

Soil: Sandy, loam, organic soils

Moisture: Well-drained soil

Shade: Partial shade, no shade

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Wildflowers: Blue pea flower

Blue pea flower ~ Bunga telang

Clitorea ternatea

A climber with flowers that are usually a deep blue colour with a white centre. It can be found cultivated in homes or growing wild in hedges. It has five to seven oral leaflets and produces small, flat seed pods. The flowers are used as food colouring in Malaysian cooking.

Status: Least concern, Native

Habit: Perennial climber

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators, ground cover

Pollinators:  Large bees

Soil: Clay, loam and organic soils

Moisture: Moist soils

Shade: Partial shade, no shade

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Wildflowers: Oriental hawksbeard

Oriental hawksbeard

Youngia japonica

This plant grows close to the ground, with only its yellow attractive flowers growing on long stalks. The flowers open during the day and close when it gets dark

Status: Least concern, Introduced (East Asian origin)

Habit: Annual Herbaceous

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators, ground cover

Pollinators:  Large bees, butterflies

Soil: Loam, organic soils

Moisture: Well drained soils

Shade: Partial shade, no shade

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