Shorea sumatrana (Sloot. ex Thorenaar) Sym. ex Desch. (Dipterocarpaceae)
by Mrs. Norzielawati Bt. Salleh

(Copyright © Norzielawati Salleh)

The Dipterocarpaceae family consists of resinous hardwood species, which emit fragrant smell. There are nine genera in the family Dipterocarpaceae and among them is the genus Shorea (Symington, 2004 & Wyatt-Smith, 1999). The Latin name for Shorea commemorates Sir John Shore (1793-1798), who was the Governor-General for the British East India Company (Ashton, 2004). A species, Shorea sumatrana is distributed from Sumatra, Peninsular Thailand, and Peninsular Malaysia. Hence, the species epithet, sumatrana refers to Sumatra, which was one of the locations where this plant was found (Flora & Fauna Web, 2022). In Peninsular Malaysia, it was recorded in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Johor and in the east coast region (Yong et al., 2021). The species can be found in lowland dipterocarp forests in low-lying, frequently swamp habitats along the river bank and also on land subject to inundation on the banks of slow-flowing rivers (Symington, 2004). The species is locally known as sengkawang or balau sengkawang ayer in Malay language.

The main field identification character of the species is the peculiar fruit with sepals developed into woody lobes. They form a spreading rosette around the base with two inner lobes smaller than the other three outer lobes (Symington, 2004). The shape of the fruit is sub-globose. The flower has a weak smell with yellow linear petals and tinged red at the base inside. The leaves are dark green, elliptic-oblong and glaucous below with no hairy domatia in the axils of veins (Wyatt-Smith, 1999). Their stipules are linear-lanceolate that are falling early. The tree is medium-sized growing up to 30 m high. The bole is a clear length or twisted by having a thin outer bark and dull brown inner bark. The wood is used for heavy construction such as bridges, railway sleepers, powerline posts, wagons, and fence posts (Flora & Fauna Web, 2022).

The growth of this tree is medium fast and can be propagated through seeds. This tree is suitable to be used as a shade tree in parks and to decorate roads and highways (Adnan, 2003).

According to the Malaysia Plant Red List (Yong et al., 2021 & Chua et al., 2010), Shorea sumatrana was categorized as Near Threatened (NT) for Malaysia, and Endangered (EN) globally in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Pooma & Newman, 2017).


  1. Adnan, M. (2003). Pokok-pokok Untuk Tanaman Bandar. Edisi Kedua. Siri Alam dan Rimba No. 1. Institut Penyelidikan Perhutanan Malaysia, Kepong, Kuala Lumpur. pp. 73.
  2. Ashton, P.S. (2004). Dipterocarpaceae. In: Soepadmo, E., Saw, L.G. & Chung, R.C.K (eds.). Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak. Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Sabah Forestry Department, Malaysia & Sarawak Forestry Department, Malaysia. pp. 191.
  3. Chua, L.S.L., Suhaida, M., Hamidah, M. & Saw, L.G. (2010). Malaysia Plant Red List: Peninsular Malaysian Dipterocarpaceae. Research Pamphlet No. 129. Forest Research Institute Malaysia & Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia. pp. 132.
  4. Flora & Fauna Web (2022). Shorea sumatrana (Slooten ex Thorenaar) Desch. National Parks. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from
  5. Pooma, R. & Newman, M.F. (2017). Shorea sumatrana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017:e.T33481A2837487. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from
  6. Symington, C.F. (2004). Foresters' Manual of Dipterocarps. Malayan Forest Records No. 16. Revised by P.S. Ashton & S. Appanah. Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Kepong, Kuala Lumpur & Malaysian Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. pp. 116-118.
  7. Wyatt-Smith, J. (1999). Pocket Check List of Timber Trees. Malayan Forest Records No. 17. Third revision by K.M. Kochummen. Forest Research Institute Malaysia. pp. 167-188.
  8. Yong, W.S.Y., Chua, L.S.L., Lau, K.H., Siti-Nur Fatinah, K., Cheah, Y.H., Yao, T.L., Rafidah, A.R., Lim, C.L., Syahida-Emiza, S., Ummul Nazrah, A.R., Nor-Ezzawanis, A.T., Chew, M.Y., Siti Munirah, M.Y., Julius, A., Phoon, S.N., Sam, Y.Y., Nadiah, I., Ong, P.T., Sarah Nabila, R., Suhaida, M., Muhammad-Alif Azyraf, A., Siti Eryani, S., Yap, J.W., Jutta, M., Azeman, S., Salleh, N., Kiew, R. & Chung, R.C.K. (2021). Malaysia Red List: Plants of Peninsular Malaysia, Volume 1, Issue/No. 2. Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), Malaysia. pp. 316, 753.
QR Code
Scan QR code for mobile experience

Other articles

Manilkara zapota (Sapotaceae)

Mrs. Syazwani Binti Azeman   •   29 Feb 2024   •   406 views

Sonerila griffithii C.B.Clarke (Melastomataceae)

Dr. Avelinah Julius   •   31 Jan 2024   •   788 views

Meistera lappacea (Ridl.) Škorničk. & M.F.Newman (Zingiberaceae)

Siti Eisya Nabiha Damahuri & Dr. Avelinah Julius   •   31 Dec 2023   •   961 views

Ploiarium alternifolium (Bonnetiaceae)

Mrs. Syazwani Bt. Azeman   •   15 Dec 2023   •   1408 views

Phaenicophaeus curvirostris (Shaw, 1810)

Nurfahana Binti Mo`in & Ms. Nur Aina Amira Binti Mahyudin   •   30 Nov 2023   •   1264 views
Today, there are less than 200 Malayan tigers left in our country.
#SaveOurMalayanTiger. Visit
Malaysia Biodiversity Information System (MyBIS)   by   Malaysia Biodiversity Centre (MBC)

Copyright © 2024, Malaysia Biodiversity Centre (MBC), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability (NRES). All rights reserved. DISCLAIMER - The Malaysian Government, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability (NRES), Malaysia Biodiversity Centre (MBC) and Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) shall not be liable for any loss or damage caused by the usage of any information obtained from this website. By entering this site, you acknowledge and agree that no portion of this site, including but not limited to names, logos, trademarks, patents, sound, graphics, charts, text, audio, video, information or images are either MyBIS property or the property permitted by third-party and shall not be used without prior written approval from the owner(s).
Best viewed using latest Mozila Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 with Resolution 1024 x 768px or above. Version 2.0 / 2016
Website Citation: MyBIS (2024). Malaysia Biodiversity Information System. Published on the Internet, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability, Malaysia Biodiversity Centre & Forest Research Institute Malaysia. [Retrieved 16 April 2024].