Scientific name: Anisoptera marginata
Family name: Dipterocarpaceae
Mersawa Paya trees in Taman Tugu
The Mersawa Paya 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”). These are one of the trees being added which are classified in ‘Endangered’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (“IUCN”) Red List of Threatened Species as these trees are heavily harvested for timber.
The Mersawa Paya tree is a medium-sized to large tree which can grow up to 45m tall. The bole is branchless for 15-25m and can grow up to 135cm in diameter, with buttresses up to 3m high and spreading out up to 1.5m.
Its leaves are obovate shaped and densely covered in characteristic golden-brown scales on the underside. Inflorescence occurs on the axillary or terminal ends, and hang pendulously. The flowers are cream-white with fringed petals and contains about 25 stamens. The stylopodium is cylindrical and very hairy, and the style is short and tapering from a stout base to a slender tip. The fruit have calyx tube, crowned with a prominent stylopodium. It has 2 wing-like calyx lobe and 3 smaller wings. Whereas the nut is almost round.
The tree is a source of dammar resin. The dammar is a hard resin, obtained from various trees of Southeast Asia. Traditionally, it is used for purposes such as caulking boats and baskets, as an adhesive, a medicine, as a fuel for torches and sometimes in foods. The wood is a source of the ‘Mersawa’ timber. The hard, yellow wood is durable but difficult to saw due to a high content of silica. It is used for the construction of houses.
These tropical trees grow in mixed peat swamp forest and healthy forest up to 1200m altitude. These trees are native to Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra.