New Dipterocarp Species Planted in the Garden

New Dipterocarp Species Planted in the Garden

There are new Dipterocarp plants in the garden.

Here are some information about them:

Dipterocarpus rigidis is a large emergent tree to 50m tall; local name is keruing cogan, the shape of the leaf suggests the broad spear head (cogan) seen on Malay crests. It is found on the east coast of the peninsula, in particular on hills around Kemaman.  It also occurs in Riau, Linggi, Borneo and the Anambas Islands.

Hopea apiculata, locally known as resak melukut, is a species endemic in the Kenas and Manong valleys in Perak, and on Bukit Long, Kelantan.  The leaf is very like Neobalanocarpus heimii, and can be distinguished only by the ripple marks in the wood of H. apiculata.

Hopea helferi, locally called lintah bukit, is found in Langkawi and the northwest of the peninsula, and in Cambodia, Thailand, Burma and the Andamans.

Shorea leptoderma, a synonym for Shorea scrobiculata, or balau sengkawang, is a species of the Malay peninsula and Borneo, now critically endangered by habitat conversion (think oil palm) and logging.

Shorea peltata, known locally as meranti telepok because the leaves are peltate like the lotus, is found in eastern Sumatra, Borneo, and only in Johor in the peninsula in the Mersing Forest Reserve.  It is classified as critically endangered by habitat conversion.

Shorea resinosa, meranti belang, referring to the stripes of the laminated inner bark.  It is widely distributed but rare through Sumatra, the peninsula, and Borneo.  This is another species critically endangered by habitat conversion.

Shorea siamensis, is known as temak batu, and occurs only in Langkawi in Semenanjung.  Elsewhere it is found in Burma, Indochina and Thailand.  It is common in the dry deciduous Dipterocarp forests of Myanmar.  The species is well adapted to adverse conditions and may do well with climate change.  It establishes a long tap root on germination and is deciduous in dry periods.

Shorea superba or selangan batu, is endemic to Borneo and is a vast emergent tree up to 75m tall with a bole 3m in diameter!  It is preserved in some national parks, but elsewhere is endangered by land conversion.

Vatica cinerea, or resak laut, is usually a small tree on rocky headlands and exposed ridges, only occurring in Semenanjung in Kedah, Perlis and Langkawi.  Elsewhere it occurs in southern Vietnam and Cambodia, and peninsular Thailand.  It is one of the few Dipterocarps that thrive in an exposed location.

Kemian Hitam

Kemian Hitam

Our staff found some lumps of kemian hitam, a type of aromatic resin that came from the rotting wood of Canarium littorale or kedondong bulan which had been struck by lightning a while ago. Half of the tree was killed and rotting on the ground.


Kemian Hitam from the rotting wood of a C. littorale


The resin has a very nice fragrance when burned. According to the Internet it is also associated with occult practices: it may be used to summon “makhluk halus alam bawahan, Jin Tanah, Jin Pokok, Jin Batu dan yang sebangsa dengannya.” A comment on our facebook post claims that kemian hitam is used in smoking and cleaning woven textile such as songket, limar and kelingkam by suspending the cloth on a rack of netting and smoking kemian beneath it. This method is thought to kill bugs that may feed on the textile as well as get rid of mold.

Shorea materialis

Shorea materialis

In April, we had a massive flowering of Shorea materialis, commonly called “balau pasir“, on one of several huge trees planted in the early 90s. Now we have a crop of tens of thousands of seedlings carpeting the ground.

Norsham Yaakob has already taken over a thousand to grow on at FRIM.

Rebecca Stevens

Rebecca Stevens


Bec Stevens undertook a three month residency at Rimbun Dahan in 2012, in association with Asialink. Bec is a Hobart-based visual artist whose work is underpinned by studies in Architecture and Horticulture. She graduated from the University of Tasmania’s: School of Art in 2003 and School of Architecture and Design in 1999.

Her practice is site-responsive and inter-disciplinary, using a range of mediums as tools to respond to the social and historical nuances of constructed environments. More specifically she is interested in, and responds to public spaces that are left-over, in-between states or unplanned, often resulting in works that reflect on processes of development or entropy.

Bec frequently uses plant material within works, and during her time at Rimbun Dahan she intends to respond directly to the garden of indigenous Southeast Asian species. She is interested in the garden as an island of biodiversity in the context of the surrounding area of Kuala Lumpur, particularly in light of the rare and endangered species it holds; and in the social customs and specific relationships to botanic species. Alongside this she is interested in the rates of change, growth and decay in the region, in terms of the inherent maintenance required for living in a place that sits in close proximity to the equator, and she intends to use this as impetus for developing work.

Bec Stevens recent projects and exhibitions include: ‘STOP. REST. PLAY.’ (2011) commissioned as an activity of the CWA CBD Branch; ‘Lookout’ at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (2010) and ‘Canopy’ (2008) commissioned for the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. She has received funding from Arts Tasmania for numerous projects and in 2009 was the recipient of a New Work Grant through the Australia Council for the Arts. In 2010 she completed a Studio Residency at Contemporary Art Spaces Tasmania and she is currently the recipient of the Curatorial Mentorship through Contemporary Art Spaces Tasmania. She is an active member of the CWA CBD Branch, see

Mosaic Artists

As the first artist project at Hotel Penaga in Penang, four mosaic artists from around the world spent almost a month in Penang creating a stunning work entitled ‘The Shyness of the Trees’ for the new boutique hotel.

Helen Bodycomb of Castlemaine, Australia, had had a residency at Rimbun Dahan in 2006 and organized this collaborative exercise with two other Australian mosaic artists, Dominic Johns and Glenn Romanis, and George Fishman from Miami Beach, USA. They stayed in the Lebuh Clarke houses for almost a month to create a piece for the verandah at the back of the four terraces on Jalan Transfer.

The fifteen shophouses of Hotel Penaga, in the buffer zone of the Georgetown heritage district, were developed as a luxury boutique hotel which will help to support ongoing activities at Rimbun Dahan. The images below show the development and final work of ‘The Shyness of Trees’, on the back verandah of the four terrace houses on Jalan Transfer.

Lauren Black

Lauren Black

Malaysia-Australia Visual Artist Residency 2008

Lauren (right) talking to visitors at her studio.

Lauren (right) talking to visitors at her studio.

Lauren Black (b.1971) is a contemporary botanical artist from Tasmania, Australia. During her residency at Rimbun Dahan her work has focused around the theme of disappearance; exploring themes such as rare and endangered species, the relationship between human culture and botanical life and, the transient beauty of plants.

Works on exhibit will be in watercolour and pencil.

Artist’s Profile

Lauren Black is a leading figure in contemporary Australian botanical art. Her career in this specialised field commenced in 1997 with studies at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. Currently working as a freelance artist and teacher she has been involved in many projects and commissions including collaborations with botanists, artists, universities, community and government organisations. As well as exhibiting regularly as both a solo artist and as part of group exhibitions in Australia, Lauren has also curated numerous botanical exhibitions of historical and environmental importance.

In 2004 Lauren won the inaugural Margaret Flockton Award for excellence in botanical illustration, NSW, Australia. In 2005 she was awarded an Asialink visual arts residency to develop her practice further in Sri Lanka.

Lauren’s residency at Rimbun Dahan has introduced her to the rich and diverse flora of the tropics. She hopes to continue this relationship with tropical flora; developing projects that can reveal both the extraordinary beauty and precarious nature of this region for a wide audience.

Lauren’s work is held in numerous collections including:

  • HRH Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark
  • Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Tasmania, Australia
  • Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, Tasmania, Australia
  • University of Tasmania Fine Art Collection
  • National Library of Australia, ACT
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Library, Melbourne, Vic. Australia
  • Private collections in Australia and Malaysia