The “crown-shyness” phenomenon, popularly known among FRIM staff and the public, is formed by Dryobalanops aromatica (kapur). The kapur trees in the campus were introduced as early as the 1950’s. However, there is another site in campus where the phenomenon may be observed among the clusters of Shorea resinosa or meranti belang.
The breathtaking formation from the stands of Shorea resinosa or meranti belang can be seen 150 m from the FRIM’s Perah Campsite entrance of the Rover Track. Seedlings of this species were raised at the nursery during the colonial era in 1929 of which 156 of the seedlings were planted in 1930. The resulting even aged stands gave rise to the formation of this unique natural phenomenon which is rarely found elsewhere. Most of these Meranti trees are 83 years old, 35-40 m in height and 40-60 cm in diameter with a straight trunk or a clear bole and slightly cracked, ringed barks. Meanwhile, the average canopy openings is between 10-15 m.
Shorea resinosa is an “emergent storey” tree and its distribution was recorded for central Sumatra, west Sarawak and Malay Peninsula from Perak and Kelantan to Johore. The species is usually found on undulating land or hills up to 500 m above see level. The species was named after the resin contained in the laminated inner bark. Meranti belang timber is grouped under “white meranti” group and commonly utilised for a wide range of products such as plywood, flooring strip and veneer. Shorea resinosa is critically endangered by habitat conversion and the conservation status is vulnerable for Malaysia.
The crown shyness pattern is the result when each of the tree crowns was formed without overlapping or touching due to the reportedly sensitive shoots, thus giving the impression of “shyness”. The mosaic formation resulting from the gaps formed between the crowns can be clearly seen underneath the trees. The unique phenomenon can also be observed from the satellite images, appearing much like cauliflowers.
Prepared by Norsiha A. and Shamsudin I. Posted on 21 March 2013. The weekly weather was 31° to 33°C and cloudy.