Careya arborea is a member of the Lecythidaceae family. The species can be found from Afghanistan, Andaman Islands, India, Myanmar and in northern Peninsular Malaysia (Perlis and Kedah). The local malay name is putat kedang. This species is a decidious tree that can grow up to 25 m tall. Various parts of the tree is used in ayurvedic medicine to treat cough, bronchitis, worms, diarrhea, leucoderma, epilepsy, abscesses, ulcers and fever.
The wood is reported to be used for the construction of house posts and furniture. In India, the tussar silkworms feed on the leaves and the fruit is given to cattle as fodder. A study in Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala, India, showed that seeds of C. arborea were found in 60% of elephants’ (Elephas maximus) dung. The flowers are mildly fragrant and the leaves would change to red due to its deciduous nature.
The colourful leaves and and fast growing characteristics make this species suitable for ornamental planting. The fruits are globose and heavy thus planting spot needs careful planning. In Peninsular Malaysia, this species is categorized as Near Threatened. As you look for the trees near B3 building in FRIM, watch out lest the heavy fruits fall on your head!
Pictures contributed by Naimah Che Long and Norsham Yaakob.