Scientific name: Koompassia malaccensis
Family name: Leguminosae
Kempas trees in Taman Tugu
The Kempas 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”). This species was selected to attract fauna to the site as it is a popular perch for birds and other animals.
The Kempas tree is an emergent tree that can grow between 45m–60m in height with steep, thick and plank-like buttresses. Its diameter ranges from 0.60m–1.49m. It has stalked pinnate leaves arranged alternately with 5-14 leaflets each. Its leaf blades are leathery and of an oval/lanceolate shape. Its flowers are white and placed in panicles. Its fruits comprise light-weight, wind dispersed pods measuring approximately 97mm in length. They are green in colour, strongly flattened and twisted lengthwise. Each fruit contains a single flat seed that is purplish-black and shallowly wrinkled.
The Kempas timbers are good for flooring and are commonly used for heavy permanent structures, railway sleepers, dock blocks, fence posts, shingles etc. Its wood is also used for fuel and produces high quality charcoal.
These tropical trees grow in freshwater peat-swamps and sub-montane forests, usually up to 1100m in altitude. These trees are native to Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Peninsular Thailand, and Sumatra. The species epithet “malaccensis” is derived from the Latin for Melaka, where these trees are naturally distributed. Also known as Mengris, the Kempas tree is protected in Sarawak under the Wildlife Protection Bill of 1990.