September 2008 — Shorea sumatrana

A critically endangered species, Shorea sumatrana was one of the first Dipterocarps planted at Rimbun Dahan, probably in 1992. It is now flowering for the first time, and although we have had Dipterocarps flower before, they have always been more common species like Hopea odorata or Shorea roxburgii, species that cope better in our drying weather. Earlier this year, our one specimen of Shorea sumatrana was measured to have a GBH (girth at breast height) of 90cm, so it has grown well, despite not being in a more favourable wet position.

The flowers are tiny, perhaps half a centimeter, but the flush on the branches gives a pinky hue. We look forward to posting news of fruit setting, but so far no pollinators have been observed.

This species is being painted by Rimbun Dahan resident botanical artist, Lauren Black, whose subjects are rare species; rare either because they do not occur often in their natural habitat, or because of habitat loss and logging.

Shorea sumatrana or sengkawang is endemic to Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, generally on the East Coast, where it is frequently found in low-lying swampy habitats along the banks of rivers. It is now critically endangered by population fragmentation and habitat destruction.