Categories
Species Guide: Urban 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: Partial shade, no shade

Categories
Species Guide: Urban 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, host plant for butterflies (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

Categories
Species Guide: Urban 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

Categories
Species Guide: Urban Wildflowers

Lindernia and Malayan Eyebright

Top: Kerak nasi (Lindernia crustacea, Lindernia nummularifolia)
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, Introduced (Tropical Africa)

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

Categories
Species Guide: Urban Wildflowers

Buttonweeds

Left: Purple buttonweed (Spemarcoce oxymoides)
Right: Toothed buttonweed (Spemarcoce 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

Categories
Species Guide: Urban 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

Categories
Species Guide: Urban 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 oval 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

Categories
Species Guide: Urban Wildflowers

Hairy Spurge

Hairy spurge, Gelang susu

Euphorbia hirta

A small, hardy plant with dull green or purplish-green leaves. The leaves are arranged opposite each other and have toothed margins. Its flowers are tiny and green, growing in clusters between the leaves. It grows on lawns and roadsides.

Status: Least concern, Naturalised (Possibly Indian origin)

Habit: Annual herbaceous

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Ground cover

Pollinators:  Unknown

Soil: Sand, loam, organic soils

Moisture: Well drained soils

Shade: Partial shade, no shade

Categories
Species Guide: Urban Wildflowers

Corky passionflower

Corky passionflower

Passiflora suberosa

A common vine with pale green flowers. It has coiled tendrils for gripping and sometimes grows over other plants, smothering them. Its leaves have different shapes: some are long and narrow, and others are three-lobed. It produces dark-blue, berry-like fruits.

Status: Naturalised/Invasive (From Central/South America)

Habit: Perennial climber

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators, ground cover, produces fruit for animals. Butterfly host plant (Dryas iulia, Acraea terpescore)

Pollinators:  Small bees, large bees, butterflies

Soil: Sand, loam, organic soils

Moisture: Well drained soils

Shade: Partial shade, no shade