Hopea apiculata Symington
by Mrs. Suhaida Mustafa
Hopea apiculata Symington
by Mrs. Suhaida Mustafa

Hopea apiculata, known locally as resak melukut or giam melukut, belongs to the family Dipterocarpaceae. It is endemic to Peninsular Malaysia and is recorded in Perak from Bruas Forest Reserve (FR), Bubu FR, Manong, and Kuala Kangsar and in Kelantan from Ulu Sat FR and Bukit Yong. It inhabits lowland areas of dipterocarp forests up to 610 m altitude.

This species is a small tree with a girth rarely exceeding 1.0 m and has smooth bark. It has a short and dark bole with light patches and a few exudations of pale dammar. The buttresses are rather sharp and tend to be stilted. The thin outer bark is dark in colour while the inner bark which is about 8 mm thick and the sapwood are pale coloured and hard.

The diagnostic characters of this species reside in the leaf and fruit. The leaf resembles that of Neobalanocarpus heimii, known locally as chengal. The leaves are oblong-lanceolate in shape and are sometimes slightly unequal-sided. They have about 12 nerves and turn yellow-brown when dried. Hopea apiculata produces a small fruit with rudimentary wings and the nut is up to 2 cm long.

Hopea apiculata is of no potential value to the timber industry as the trees are too small to produce good timber. The local villagers usually harvest it for poles. According to the Malaysia Plant Red List (Chua et al., 2010), H. apiculata is categorized as Endangered (EN B1b(iii) + c(ii)) due to its restricted distribution and habitat degradation resulting from land conversion activities. Besides, no populations are known to occur in the network of Totally Protected Areas.

Resulting from this, Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) in collaboration with Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia (JPSM) are now undertaking regular monitoring of the populations as the beginning of a series of conservation efforts. Hopefully with this measure populations of H. apiculata will continue to survive in the wild and are conserved for the next generation.

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