At FRIM there is an avenue known as Jalan Jelutong named for the many jelutong trees that lined this main avenue. Jelutong or Dyera costulata belongs to the family Apocynaceae. Jelutong can easily be identified by the end branching of its leaves known as the “terminalia” characteristic. Jelutong yields white latex, often seen on wounded parts of the tree. In the olden days, jelutong latex was used as the base for chewing gum, mixed with poisonous gum for blowpipes and used in place of rubber. Jelutong grows at a fast rate thus the timber is quite soft.
The trunk grows straight, producing fine boles up to 60 m. During juvenile stage the crown forms “monopodial” or pagoda shaped with layered leaf branches. When mature, the crown opens up so the tree would be more exposed to sunlight. Jelutong is one of Malaysian timber species and at one time generated more than USD 10 million a year. Jelutong wood is fine textured and creamy white, suitable for panelling, and in the manufacture of products such as pencils, matches, model carvings and other wooden accessories. Jelutong tree at FRIM produced fruits in early June this year.
Pictures contributed by Noor Azlin Yahya, Azahari Mohd. Yusoff and Nashatul Zaimah Noor Azman.