Scientific name: Aglaia korthalsii
Family name: Meliaceae
Keriat trees in Taman Tugu
The Keriat 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”). Its gelatinous, bittersweet tasting fruit attracts various species of monkeys.
This evergreen tree which grows up to 30-35m has a reddish-brown or pinkish-brown bark, sometimes with coarse longitudinal fissures or rows of lenticels. The leaves are compound and comprise of leaflets with an unequal leaf base. The petiole is covered in shiny reddish brown scales.
The cluster of flowers occur on leaf axils or old branches. The cluster of male flowers is longer and more flowered compared to the female cluster. The flower comprises of a 5 petal, 5-lobed calyx which may be covered in scales similar to twigs. This tree produces edible fruits which are almost round and densely covered in orange-brown shield-shaped scales. The mature fruits break open along the ridge of the fruit wall when external pressure is applied. Each fruit contains 1 – 3 seeds covered in a yellowish-orange flesh.
The trees are grown as fruit trees in Kelantan and Terengganu (East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia) as the edible fruits have a comparatively high nutritional value particularly in vitamin C. The tree is also known to exhibit pronounced cytotoxic activity against a range of human cancers.
The timber from the tree is used for house poles, beams, window sills, agricultural implements, and bridges. Medicinally, the Keriat has been found to have potent insecticidal, antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial or anthelmintic bioactivity properties.
These trees are native to Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Moluccas, India, and Bhutan.