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Every day when you go to school, you will come across different trees in the school campus. Do you know the total number of trees in the school campus? Do you know the number of tree species ( found in the school? If I were asked the same questions last year, my answer would certainly be “NO.” But now, I can give you the exact answers! Early this academic year, the school Gardening Club participated in the “School Trees Conservation Education Competition” (). One of the tasks is to school campus. The survey includes counting the number of trees with a height of at least 2 metres, identifying the trees and finding the number of tree species in the school. This survey produced some discoveries which I want to share with you. First, in the tree survey, I found 11 trees with leaves divided into two equal lobes which look like the hoof of a sheep. Can you guess what they are? You would probably think that they are Bauhinia blakeana (). Interestingly, in the survey held in January this year, only 8 trees flowered. Among them, 7 trees bore light pink flowers while 1 bore magenta (reddish purple) flowers. The former belongs to the species Bauhinia pupurea () while the latter belongs to another species, The remaining 3 trees are now flowering with pink flowers. They belong to the species Bauhinia variegata ( ). These closely related plants differ in flowering periods and floral characteristics. To my surprise, there are 3 different species of Bauhinia in the school – an important discovery for a Biology teacher teaching here for 16 years! Second, we have had smooth progress in the early stage of tree survey. We completed counting the number of trees with height reaching 2 metres – altogether 61. Furthermore, we successfully identified 59 trees belonging to 17 species. Only 2 trees of the same species remained unidentified. In the past, some colleagues suggested planting fruit trees in the school. Now, we don’t have to in the light of our new discovery. The two unidentified trees are in fact fruit trees – longan ( the past, I did not expect to find fruit trees in the school. We will see when we will have a big harvest. Third, do you know the tallest tree in the school? In the past, I did not expect to find a tree in the school with height beyond 6 metres. However, the tallest tree in the school has a height that reaches the 4th floor of the school building (about 15 metres). It was planted next to the Transformer Room () at the playground. The tree is now flowering. People often mistaken it as “pine” ( needle-shaped leaves. In fact, the tree belongs to the species Casuarina equisetifolia (). There are 3 such trees in close proximity. Unlike pine trees that can only bear cones, Casuarina sp. can both flower and bear fruits. Finally, in the school Bicycle Parking Area, there is a big deciduous tree. It is now “bald” leaving only the main trunk with its branches. It is called Melia azedarach. The Chinese name is “ Do you know how to pronounce the word “”? In the past, I pronounced the word as “ reservation. After identifying the tree, I consulted a teacher of Chinese Language to check the pronunciation. The proper pronunciation should sound like “ discovery. Otherwise, I would continue propagating the wrong pronunciation in my teaching. When I reflect on my discoveries in the tree survey, I find that I have not paid much attention to the trees or texts that I encountered every day. In fact, the common objects that I encounter daily are valuable subjects for studies. As I probe further into them, they offer me new discoveries leading to the enrichment of my knowledge, enhancement of my learning skills and interest in studies. Dear Shatin Tsungtsiners, other than completing the assignments given by the teachers, can you start a topic or an area of interest of your own to explore. If you can do it, I assure you that your attempt will be awarded with fruitful discoveries! P.S. If you want to learn more about the 18 species of trees in the school campus, you may browse the web this year. Tree labels specifying the names of trees have been hung on the trees in the school campus to aid identification. Have a nice tour!


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