Scientific name: Syzygium zeylanicum
Family name: Myrtaceae
Kelat Nasi-Nasi trees in Taman Tugu
The Kekatong Laut 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”). This species was selected to attract fauna to the site – its flowers produce nectar that attracts insects like bees, butterflies and day-flying moths (Syntomis huebneri). It is also the larval host plant for the Copper Flash butterfly (Rapala pheretima sequeira). Its fruits are eaten birds, squirrels, and other fruit-eating animals.
This tree a shrub or tree that can grow up to 18m tall and attain 100cm in girth and has an oval to rounded crown. The trunk is reddish-brown and papery-flaky in mature specimens. It has short-stalked leaves that are leathery, lance-shaped, purplish pink when young which turns dark glossy green above and paler green below when mature. It produces bisexual flowers that are white, faintly fragrant, and found in long flower clusters located at ends of its branches or axils of its leaves. The fleshy fruits are oblong or oblong-round, white in colour, and contain 1 greenish seed each.
The sweetly-scented berry fruits are edible, although there is not much pulp. Medicinally, the leaf Infusion is used to treat diarrhoea, the decoction of leaves and roots are used as vermifuge, and for their anti-diabetic and anti-rheumatic properties. The reddish-brown wood is used as firewood, and also for building houses, rafts and agricultural tools. According to folk legend, rubbing the leaves on chest of elephant makes it docile.
These tropical, sub-tropical/monsoonal trees grow in primary rainforest, mountain and secondary forest, coastal forest, freshwater swamp Forest, riverine, and on sandy beaches. These trees are native from East Madagascar, through India, South China to Southeast Asia (including Malaysia). The species epithet ‘zeylanicum’ refers to Ceylon (old name for Sri Lanka), where the species is naturally distributed.