Categories
Species Guide: Urban Wildflowers

Beggarticks

Beggarticks, Rumput juala

Bidens alba, Bidens pilosa

A plant from the daisy or sunflower family. It is used by beekeepers as a source of nectar and pollen for bees. Its lower leaves are simple but upper leaves are compound with 4-6 leaflets. Bidens alba has 5-8 ‘petals’ longer than 1cm long, Bidens pilosa has 4-7 ‘petals’ that are less than 1 cm long.

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

Habit: Annual herbaceous

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators, ground cover

Pollinators:  Bees, butterflies, thrips

Soil: Sand, clay, loam, organics soils

Moisture: Moist, well drained and dry soils

Shade: No shade

Categories
Species Guide: Urban Wildflowers

Waterwillow

Waterwillow

Justicia procumbens

A plant that grows very close to the ground in open, grassy areas. Its leaves are elliptic with tiny hairs on the leaf margin. Its pale pink flowers cluster on top of a fuzzy structure at the end of the stem. It is the host plant of the beautiful Peacock Pansy butterfly.

Status: Least concern, Introduced (India)

Habit: Perennial herbaceous

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators, butterfly host plant (Junonia orithya)

Pollinators:  Butterflies, bees, flies

Soil: Loam, sand, clay

Moisture: Moist soils

Shade: Partial shade, no shade

Categories
Species Guide: Urban Wildflowers

Two-flowered hedyotis

Two-flowered hedyotis, Rumput mutiara

Oldenlandia corymbosa

A common plant that has a tendency to grow in cracks near drains where it can get enough moisture. Its leaves are narrow and oval. Its four-petalled flowers are white with a purple tinge, very small, and often grow in pairs. Fruits are tiny capsules with numerous seeds.

Status: Least concern, Introduced (Tropical Africa)

Habit: Annual herbaceous

Cultivation: Planted by seeds or transplanting

Ecological Function: Attracts pollinators

Pollinators:  Thrips, bees, wasps, butterflies

Soil: Sandy soil

Moisture: Moist soil

Shade: Partial shade, no shade

Categories
Species Guide: Urban 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

Categories
Species Guide: Urban 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

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

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