Scientific name: Shorea guiso
Family name: Dipterocarpaceae
Balau Mambatu trees in Taman Tugu
The Balau Membatu is an indigenous rainforest tree which is amongst the 4,100 trees added to the Taman Tugu site. This tree was selected in collaboration with Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (“FRIM”) and Malaysian Nature Society (“MNS”). The tree is harvested from the wild for its resin and for its wood, which is a high class construction timber that is used locally and also traded. The tree is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (“ IUCN”) Red List of Threatened Species.
The Balu Membatu is a large tree with a dense crown that can grow up to 73m tall. It has a straight, cylindrical bole that can be free of branches for 15 – 25 metres, up to 112cm in diameter, with prominent buttresses. Its leaves are oblong-lanceolate, with a dimension of 5.5-14cm × 2.5-6cm, thinly leathery, with 15-19 pairs of secondary veins. The petals of the its flower is narrow, with 20-28 stamens, and appendages with few bristles. Its fruit has unequal calyx lobes, usually 5.5cm × 1cm in dimension, and possesses a nut up to 8mm × 5mm in size.
The tree is cultivated mostly for its hard red timber which is valuable for light construction in the Philippines.
Its dammar resin, a hard resin obtained from various trees of Southeast Asia, known as ‘huille de bios’ is obtained from the tree for making varnishes. Traditionally, it is used for purposes such as caulking boats and baskets, as an adhesive, a medicine, as a fuel for torches and sometimes in foods. Harvesting of the resin commences when the bole is around 25cm in diameter (approx. 20 years old)
The Balau Membatu is an emergent tree, scattered in lowland forest on red soils, most common in slightly seasonal climates; rare and confined to limestone hills in West and Central Borneo.