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Dec 20, 2022

Gor Zhang Chiu Kar

The spot where the five Angsana trees stand in Esplanade Park in popularly known in Hokkien as "gor zhang chiu kar", which means "under the shade of five trees".  Between the 1960s and 1980s, this area was regarded as a popular dating spot for couples.  The trees were removed when they were affected by the Angsana Wilt disease, caused by the Fusarium oxysporium fungus, which killed many mature Angsana trees in Singapore in the early 1990s.

To bring back memories of the once popular social landmark, five mature Angsana trees were sourced from Upper Serangoon Road and transplanted to where the trees were located.

The Angsana (Plerocarpus indicus) is s large deciduous tree that grows up to 40 cm in height.  It has a dense, dome-shaped, wide-spreading, and drooping crown, the yellow flowers occur in large bunches that are 15 to 30 cm long.  It has disc-like pods with papery wings about 5 cm in diameter, and or more seeds in each.

The floral buds of the Angsana develop high up on the crown, and they bloom simultaneously with the right triggers.  This brilliant display of colour lasts only for a day. after which they fall, leaving a soft carpet of yellow flowers on the ground.

[Source: National Parks]

Gor Zhang Chiu Kar

When I was young and growing up at the Bukit Ho Swee kampong, I often heard my neighbors' daughters told their mothers they wanted to go to 'gor zhang chiu kar' with their boyfriends.

At that time, I did not understand what that means.

When I was older, I then know that they refer to the shade of five trees at the Esplanade (photo below).


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