Vatica pauciflora (Korth.) BI. (Dipterocarpaceae)
by Ms. Siti Fariezza Bt Khairi Thaw

Vatica pauciflora is a medium to large-sized tree that can grow up to 30 m in height. The flowers are usually creamy white in colour while some may have a reddish tinge at the base, and in the bud. The ovoid shaped nuts (fruits) are wingless and vary in size, from 10 to 30 mm in length. Symington (2004) stated that without the fruits, V. pauciflora is often mistaken for V. stapfiana. However, even in the absence of fruits, differences can still be observed in the leaves of V. pauciflora which have an average size of 15 x 5 cm, and are a little bit smaller and less thick, less obovate and blunter at the apex than leaves of V. stapfiana. Except in very young trees, the twigs and petioles are quite glabrous with the stipules reflexed backwards on the twig.

The preferred vernacular name for this species is Resak laru because it is a common source of laru. Laru is obtained from the bark of the stem of Vatica spp., such as V. pauciflora and V. stapfiana, and is used as an inhibitor of the fermentation process in toddy production (Symington, 2004). Laru acts as a natural preservative; when added to palm juice it prevents further fermentation from occurring. It can also be obtained from other plant sources, such as limes, clove leaves, guava leaves and mangosteen peel (Rifda et al., 2013). A number of resveratrol oligomers have been isolated from the stem bark of V. pauciflora (Ito et al., 2003) that are well known for their extensive bioactivities, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidation and anticancer properties.

Locals also call V. pauciflora Resak paya and/or Resak air, which describes its habitat preference of being near streams or swampy areas in lowland forest. However, V. lobata and V. umbonata also share those names as they have a similar habitat preference as V. pauciflora.

Vatica pauciflora has a wide distribution, from the northern to the southern part of Peninsular Malaysia. The species is also found in other parts of South East Asia, such as Cambodia, peninsular Thailand, southern Sumatra and Bangka (Symington, 2004).

Pooma & Newman (2017) have listed V. pauciflora as Vulnerable (VU) globally while the Malaysian Plant Red List categorises it as Near Threatened (NT) in Malaysia (Chua et al., 2010). Rapid changes in its natural habitat and population fragmentation are threats to this species. Even though it has a widespread distribution, the population is still declining due to changes in land use for agriculture and timber harvesting activities. Living collections of this species can be found at the FRIM Arboretum. Seedlings have also been collected and grown in the FRIM nursery as an effort in ex situ conservation.


  1. Chua, L.S.L., Suhaida, M., Hamidah, M. & Saw, L.G. (2010). Malaysia Plant Red List: Peninsular Malaysian Dipterocarpaceae. Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) & Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Malaysia, Malaysia. pp. 73, 146.
  2. Ito, T., Tanaka, T., Iinuma, M., Iliya, I., Nakaya, K., Ali, Z., Takahashi, Y., Sawa, R., Shirataki, Y., Murata, J. & Darnaedi, D. (2003). New resveratrol oligomers in the stem bark of Vatica pauciflora. Journal of Tetrahedron 59 (28), 5347-5363.
  3. Pooma, R. & Newman, M. (2017). Vatica pauciflora. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T33151A2833358. Retrieved October 04, 2018, from
  4. Rifda, N., Yanto, T. & Binardjo, A.G. (2012). Penambahan Konsentrasi Ca(OH)2 dan Bahan Pengawet Alami untuk Peningkatan Kualitas Nira Kelapa. Jurnal Pembangunan Pedesaan 12 (2), 86-96
  5. Symington, C.F., Barlow, H.S., Ashton, P.S. & Appanah, S. (2004). Foresters' Manual of Dipterocarps. Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) and Malayan Nature Society, Malaysia. pp. 340, 373-374.
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