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Tetramerista glabra
by Lim Chung Lu

Newsletter

Tetramerista glabra

by Lim Chung Lu

“What is Punah? It is also called Upuna?”

These are the usual questions I am asked whenever I mention the common name of Tetramerista glabra, which is Punah. Punah belongs to the family Tetrameristaceae, which includes two genera, Tetramerista, with only one species, which is found in the western Malesian region, and Pentamerista, also with only one species, which is found on the other side of the world in the highlands of Guyana in South America.

Punah timber is commonly used for interior construction, such as ceilings. After treatment with a preservative, the wood can be used to construct railway sleepers. The fruit is reportedly eaten in Sumatra but not in Peninsular Malaysia.

Punah is one of the most abundant tree species in peat swamp forests in Perak, Selangor, Johor, Terengganu and Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia. The species can also be found in Sumatra, Singapore and Borneo.

The tree can be recognised by its acutely tapered and shortly arrow-shaped leaf base. Also, the leaf base is decurrent, meaning that the leaf blade gradually merges into the petiole. Furthermore, the flowers have 4 sepals, 4 petals and 4 stamens and, in addition, a pair of epicalyx, located below the calyx. The fruits are round, with the epicalyx, calyx and corolla remaining attached and are about the size of a ping-pong ball.

To answer the second question, Punah is definitely not the same as Upuna. Upuna, is a genus in the family Dipterocarpaceae and bears the common name Resak

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