I chanced upon this magnificent tree along the green corridor over the weekend. Whilst trawling through the internet for its ID, I stumbled upon this paper http://rmbr.nus.edu.sg/nis/bulletin2010/2010nis199-209.pdf published by the Department of Biological Sciences at NUS. According to the authors, there are 2 known species of Cecropias in Singapore; the more common Cecropia pachystachya and and less common Cecropia peltata. To give you an idea of their distribution in Singapore, the former is quite commonly found around the North-western part of the island. The latter has 2 known populations, both around Tyersall area.
There are about 61 species of Cecropia and they are generally small to medium-sized trees with few branches and with a candelabrum-like branching system. They have very large palmate and peltate leaves. They are generally considered pioneer trees which grow rapidly and thrive on disturbed areas such as areas razed by forest fires or open areas which are cleared for pasture. For this reason, they are considered invasive. They usually have succulent fruits which are sought after by many animals especially birds. Certain species like the Cecropia peltata are widely used in traditional medicine and every part of the plant is used to treat a diversity of ailments. Most species have a symbiotic relationship with ants which live in their hollow trunk. The ants in turn defend against attackers including creeping plants.
Propagation is usually through seed dispersal. However, I noticed little plantlets growing along the trunk and decided to pick a few to see if they can be rooted. I think they make a wild and exotic addition to any garden.