Scientific name: Mangifera caesia
Family name: Anacardiaceae
Binjai trees in Taman Tugu
The Binjai tree 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 Binjai is a large, deciduous tree with a dome-shaped crown and massive branches. It usually attains a height of around 30-45m. Its straight bole can be free of branches for much of its height, up to 155cm in diameter and free of buttresses. Presumably, grafting on seedling stock would be possible, in particular through inarching potted, decapitated rootstocks into twigs of mother trees. Its foliage is made of alternate, stalked leaves which are thick and leathery, about 7.5-41.5cm long and 2.5-11cm wide. Its flowers are violet to lilac and up to 1 cm long each, borne on a branched inflorescences up to 40 cm long. Its fleshy fruits are pear-shaped drupes, that ripen to pale brown, 10-19cm long and 5-10cm wide, containing a single pink seed enclosed with a hard endocarp.
The tree is a source of ‘machang’ timber. The heartwood is light brown or light grey brown, occasionally with chocolate or black streaky corewood. it is not clearly differentiated from the wide band of sapwood. The texture is moderately coarse to coarse and even the grain interlocked and wavy.
The Binjai tree is often used to prepare a spice based on chilies (sambal). In some areas, the flesh of ripe fruit is pickled and preserved with salt in jars, and used to make this sambal when there is no fresh fruit. The raw young leaves can used as a condiment while the fresh or dried seeds are grated, mixed with spices and dried fish, then used as a side dish with rice.
The Binjai is a mid-canopy tree, which is rather rare in forests. It is found locally more frequently in periodically inundated areas and marshes at elevations up to 500m. These trees are native to Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, and Sumatra.