Scarlet Jade Vine (Mucuna bennettii)

The scarlet jade vine (Mucuna bennettii) might win the award for the most conspicuous bloomer here at Gardens by the Bay and it’s not difficult to see why. This large woody climber produces several pendulous clusters of fiery red-orange flowers along its woody stems. Each of the clusters can reach a metre in length and hold as much as 80 claw-shaped flowers at a time! 

As our scarlet jade vines established themselves, their larger size and increased vigour translate to a greater flowering performance. Compare the same set of vines in 2013 (left) and 2021 (right).

A native to the tropical rainforests of New Guinea, this leguminous liana blooms seasonally here in Singapore, most likely triggered after a bout of heavy rain. We first observed them flowering in the Gardens in 2013, with a measly count of about ten flower spikes on a single plant. These lianas only bloomed once a year until a few years ago, when they started to flower as often as two to three times annually, producing more and more inflorescences with every blooming cycle.

Some of you might have noticed that the flowers of the scarlet jade vine might resemble those of another climber that was featured previously. As the common name suggests, it borrows part of its name from the closely related jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys), which bears unique greenish-blue inflorescences - a colour rarely seen in the botanical world!

The staircase leading from the Chinese Garden to the Supertree Grove is one of the good vantage points for close-up shots of the scarlet jade vine’s inflorescences.

Come down to the Gardens and spot the scarlet jade vines in full bloom at these four locations: the pergolas at Supertree Grove near the Chinese Garden staircase and behind Indian Garden (Heritage Gardens), the bridge above the Koi Pond and the pergola near Floral Clock.

Written by: Hazri Boey, Senior Horticulturist (Gardens Operations)

Hazri not only surrounds himself with plants at work; he has an abundant collection at home too! Having nurtured a keen interest in nature since young, he might have gone on to become a zookeeper caring for owls or sloths had it not been for his plant identification talent!

This article is part of our What's Blooming series.