Elephant’s Ear/ Ear Pod
Scientific name: Enterolobium cyclocarpum
Family name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Elephant’s Ear Trees in Taman Tugu
The Elephant’s Ear tree is an indigenous rainforest species found amongst the 4,100 trees added to the Taman Tugu site, selected in collaboration with the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (“FRIM”) and Malaysian Nature Society (“MNS”).
The tree is very large – reaching up to 40m in height with a huge, spreading but thin crown. The bole is usually quite short, but can grow up to 2-3m in diameter. It has a dark grey bark. The older trees develop small buttresses and produce large roots that run along the surface of the ground for 2-3m. The light green compound leaves are alternately arranged. Each leaf consists of about 40-70 narrowly oblong leaflets. The small, white flowers are borne in a compact, rounded inflorescence. The fruits are indehiscent brown ear-shaped pod, and contains about 8-16 oval-shaped seeds each.
The young seedpods and seeds are cooked and eaten as a vegetable. A syrup obtained from the bark is used in the treatment of colds. A gum obtained from the trunk is used as a remedy for affections of the chest. The bark and fruit are used locally as a soap. The wood is generally used for light weight construction. The pulped wood has been found excellent for producing quality paper. The wood is considered to be a very good fuel.
These trees grow mostly in subtropical, dry forests. These trees are native to South America – northwest Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia, north through Central America to Mexico.