When Nature Meets Art: The Umbrella Trees In Singapore

Main image by Choo Yut Shing


There is actually a tree species called “Umbrella Trees”. Officially know as the Schefflera actinophylla, it is native to tropical rainforests and gallery forests in northern and north-eastern coasts of Australia, as well as Java and New Guinea.

But these are not the umbrella trees we are talking about. We mean the Umbrella Trees found in Singapore´s Little India.


Singapore´s Umbrella Trees

The city-state of Singapore is located in a tropical rainforest climate, getting 92 inches of rain every year. But in Singapore’s Little India, locals and tourists alike were able to get protection from the frequent downpours by sitting beneath one of the neighborhood’s unique Umbrella Trees.

The trees’ leaves have been replaced by vibrant umbrellas, colored with a palette of red, orange, yellow, blue, and purple.

The two-storey- high “trees” towered above the street making them all the more impressive when wandering by.


Bios Urn Blog: Umbrella trees in Singapore

The colorful Umbrella trees are two-storey high. Image source: ohmyue.blogspot.com


Each tree rised up from a large green cushion that visitors can sit on to escape the rain and beating sun in comfort. People can be seen sitting on the green round platforms at the foot of the trees, resting or chatting with their friends.


When art meets nature

Little India’s forest of Umbrella Trees were part of an art installation on Hindoo Road.

The creator is local artist Marthalia Budiman, 35, who came up with this idea on previously unused grounds.

Bios Urn Blog: Umbrella trees in Singapore

The park on Hindoo street without the Umbrella trees. Image source: Google Maps


Her desire was to transform a small public park space into an oasis of color, beauty, and protection from the elements. “I wanted to transform some of the abandoned or forgotten spaces there into something more positive and functional for the community,” she says. Hence the umbrella trees provide shade and seats to those seeking a respite from the sun while, at the same time, showcase the vibrant colours that are integral in many facets of Indian culture.

We weren´t able to confirm, we just hope that previously dead trees were used for this exhibition.

This whole initiative was part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s My Ideas For Public Spaces: Forgotten Spaces Competition.

Ms Budiman, who has lived in Singapore for 10 years and is a Singapore permanent resident, says in her visits to Little India, she has noticed that it can get quite crowded especially on weekends, but there were not many public spaces dedicated for people to gather.

The temporary installations were supposed to last seven months, but because they were so well- received, they were extended. Maybe they will consider making it a permanent installation?


Bios Urn Blog: Umbrella trees in Singapore

People can be seen sitting on the green round platforms at the foot of the trees, resting or chatting with their friends, or even doing yoga. Image source: homeanddecor.com.sg


Now we wouldn´t recommend trying to create your very own Umbrella Tree with your Bios Urn ® 🙂 But we do recommend using a regular native tree 🙂 Here are some of our recommendations of native trees in Asia!


What do you think of these umbrella trees? Maybe you have seen them in person? We would love to hear from you in the Comments section below!

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