Tetrameles nudiflora
by Mrs. Syahida Emiza Suhaimi

Tetrameles nudiflora R. Br. ex Benn., a member of the family Datiscaceae, is a rare deciduous tree. In Latin, nudus means naked while flos means flower, which refers to the flowers of T. nudiflora which lack petals.

This tree can be medium or large in size, up to 45m tall and 200cm in diameter with buttresses up to 5m tall. The bark is silvery grey and smooth, and sometimes slightly lenticellate (possessing small raised pores for gas exchange).

The inflorescences are pendent in spikes (female) or panicles (male). This dioecious tree has unisexual flowers which are 4-merous, meaning that they have functional parts in fours. The male flowers are slightly fragrant, subsessile or have short pedicels and a glabrous calyx. In addition, the male flowers have 4 stamens with white filaments and rounded anthers. The female flowers, on the other hand, are sessile with a sparsely hairy to subglabrous calyx. The calyx itself is slightly 4-angular and sometimes glandular on the outside. It contains a single-loculed ovary with 4 to 5 parietal placentas, with the ovules arranged in several rows. The fruits are globular-urceolate (urn shaped) and the seeds, narrowly oblong and slightly flattened, without an endosperm.

In Peninsular Malaysia, it is found in Perlis, Kedah (including Langkawi Island), northern Perak, Selangor, Kelantan and central Pahang. It grows only in primary or secondary forests with a more or less pronounced dry season, at 500m to 1000m elevation. Flowering ocurs between February and June, usually while the tree is leafless. Local people call this tree Mengkundor.

The wood of Tetrameles nudiflora is a lightweight hardwood, which, in the past, was used to make floats and dugout canoes. It has also been used to make products ranging from packing boxes, tea-chests and matchboxes, to panelling, partitioning and weatherboard as well as mouldings ceiling boards and cheap planking. Because of its rarity, it is now only used for temporary construction.

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