Punggol #instagramtree's days numbered

All alone on a piece of state land in Punggol is a tree which has its own following on Instagram. Standing on top of a small hill along a waterway, it provides a stark contrast to much of Singapore's built-up urban environment.

But the tree, so famous that it even shows up on Google Maps as "Punggol Lone Tree", is dead after being struck by lightning about a month ago, leaving just half its branches.

"Some of the branches are starting to rot," said Mr Goh Si Guim, a Nature Society (Singapore) executive committee member.

Experts have identified it as an Albizia tree. The species is "an incredibly fast-growing tree species from eastern Indonesia", said Dr Shawn Lum, president of the Nature Society (Singapore).

Over 900 photos have been tagged #instagramtree on Instagram, most of them showing the Punggol tree.

Marketing manager Tricia Quak said she took at least 50 photos with the tree in its full glory a month ago.

"From the photo angles that I saw on social media, there were no buildings that were captured in the background, and the tree seemed to be in the middle of very empty land - extremely rare in our small city of clutter," she said.

Despite the poor state the tree is in now, some people are still taking photos with it. Operations executive Eyzat Amer, 40, paid a visit with his wife and four children, aged four to 15, at around 7pm a few weeks ago, after seeing photos of it on Instagram.

"It's still very picturesque," he said, adding that the photos "don't even look like it's in Singapore".

Instagram user jamieljm wrote: "I've always thought that I'll get to see this tree in its best form and took my time in coming round to see it and this just taught me to never take things for granted; to not assume that things will never change."

Dr Lum did not see a need to have the dead tree removed. "It will eventually topple and break apart and get recycled back into the earth, so I see no reason to remove it, unless experts deem it a hazard."


This article was first published on August 16, 2015.
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