Nama saintifik: Saraca thaipingensis
Nama keluarga: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Gapis trees in Taman Tugu
The Gapis tree is an indigenous rainforest tree that are amongst the 4,100 trees added to the Taman Tugu site, selected in collaboration with Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (“FRIM”) and Malaysian Nature Society (“MNS”).
The Gapis tree is an evergreen, medium, wide-spreading tree of between 7-20 m tall. The crown is coarse-looking and has a dome-umbrella shape. The bark smooth and often blotched with lichens. The leaves are even-pinnate compound, with up to 8 pairs of large oblong leaflets. The young leaves are purplish, maturing to cream-coloured with purplish-red leaf edge and rachis, then green. The new growth usually appears after a dry spell. The stems young pendulous flushes are purplish-red, limp, and hanging in a tassel, before stiffening upon maturation. The flowers are cauliflorous, bisexual, slightly fragrant (especially at night), petal-less, and colours of the flowers come from the sepals. As the flowers mature, a dark red eye develops. The Gapis tree flowers heavily after pronounced dry weather. The fruits are purplish large, flattened pods, which swell upon maturation and splitting into 2 coiling halves when ready to be dispersed. The seeds from the fruits are large, hard, and black.
Medicinally, the locals believe the fruit has medicinal properties . The roots are used to make handles of parang. Culturally in India, this species is closely related to the Saraca asoca species, the Ashoka tree. The Ashoka tree has an important part in the cultural traditions of the Indian sub-continent – it is a symbol of fertility and has been recently shown to provide relief for women during menstruation. The tree is revered in Hinduism and Buddhism and is frequently found in royal palace grounds or near temples.
These tropical/ sub-tropical trees grow along bank of rocky streams, grows well on dry ground too. These trees are native to Peninsular Malaysia, Java, Thailand, and Myanmar. The species epithet ‘thaipingensis’ refers to the town of Taiping, probably the place where this tree was first described.