Project Description

Kapur is a Southeast Asian timber tree species. Their distribution is limited to Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo and often grows in clusters on well drained soil on hillsides. Kapur is famous for forming the “jigsaw puzzle” pattern in the sky, otherwise known as the “crown shyness”. This pattern results from a natural phenomenon where the crowns do not overlap or touch each other. Its scientific name, Dryobalanops aromatica (family Dipterocarpaceae), refers to the fragrant smell of the resin. The whole tree produces this resinous smell, including fallen old leaves, when crushed. In olden times, camphor oil was obtained by tapping the stem and exported to China and Japan to be made into oral and topical medications.

Kapur has a straight cylindrical trunk and can reach a height of 60 m. The trunk is supported by a buttress that sometimes reaches several meters tall. Kapur produces a heavy hardwood timber that is used in heavy construction, especially as railroad sleepers in the past. One of the special features of kapur tree is its peeling bark that sometimes resembles scrolls of paper being peeled from the trunk. The aborigines used the bark of kapur to make the walls of their huts and for basket weaving.

The inflorescence of kapur is less than 10 cm long while the individual, white flowers are slightly more than 1 cm across. This makes the flowers inconspicuous when on the crown, but fairly visible when freshly fallen with the bright yellow anthers still attached to the petal whorl. The fruits have five wings up to 6 cm long, tending a nut in the centre up to 3 cm long, almost in the shape of a small shuttlecock.

In 2012, the kapur trees at FRIM flowered starting from the first week of August but the flowers were not abundant. In August 2013, kapur flowered profusely and can be seen especially near the entrance of Keruing trail near building D4. The kapur trees also flowered heavily in 2003 and 2005 where the grounds under the trees were literally carpeted with white flowers.

Article by Chew MY, first uploaded on 17 August 2012. The weekly weather was rainy with thunderstorm and temperature ranging from 24°C to 33°C. Information was updated on 30 August 2013, where weather conditions was windy with heavy rains, 23°C to 31°C.

The unique pattern formed by kapur crowns

The unique pattern formed by kapur crowns

White kapur flowers adorns the area near Building D4, FRIM. Picture taken by Noor Azlin Y, 30 August 2013.

White kapur flowers adorns the area near Building D4, FRIM. Picture taken by Noor Azlin Y, 30 August 2013.

 The flaky bark of kapur

The flaky bark of kapur

White and fragrant flowers of kapur

White and fragrant flowers of kapur

Kapur leaves has a fine horizontal venation and a drip tip

Kapur leaves has a fine horizontal venation and a drip tip

 Kapur stand at Jalan Kapur FRIM

Kapur stand at Jalan Kapur FRIM

Kapur seedlings can often be found near the mother tree

Kapur seedlings can often be found near the mother tree