Kepong Herbarium

Historical Background

The herbarium of Forest Research Institute Malaysia (internationally known as KEP) began in early 1900s with the humble collection made by A.M. Burn-Murdoch. Up to the Second World War, the collection continued to grow through the activities of dedicated botanists and foresters e.g., G.E.S. Cubitt, F.W. Foxworthy, J.G. Watson and C.F. Symington.

In a span of about 40 years, the KEP collection totalled about 43,000 specimens. These collection formed the basis of important publications on the timber trees of Malaya e.g., Burn-Murdoch’s “Trees and Timbers of the Malay Peninsula”, Foxworthy’s “The Commercial Woods of the Malay Peninsula” and “Dipterocarpaceae of the Malay Peninsula”, Watson’s “Mangrove Forests of the Malay Peninsula”, and Symington’s “Foresters’ Manual of Dipterocarps”.

After the Second World War, the herbarium came under the charge of J. Wyatt-Smith competently assisted by K.M. Kochummen. During this period, herbarium collection and research activity were focused on the tree families to be included in the production of a series of Manuals of Malayan Timber Trees, culminating in the publication of “Pocket Check List of Timber Trees” and “Manual of Malayan Silviculture for Inland Forest”. By 1965, the collection numbered 74,694 specimens.

T.C. Whitmore was engaged under Colombo Plan Aid between 1965 and 1972 to organise and produce a “Tree Flora of Malaya”. During this period, collection activities were greatly intensified to augment the existing collection for the project. This project took about 24 years to complete, resulting in the publication of four volumes of the Tree Flora of Malaya. The four volumes, containing accounts of 2,830 tree species in 99 families, have become the standard reference books for trees in Peninsular Malaysia.

Function Of Herbarium

The general mandate of the herbarium has been to document the woody flora of Peninsular Malaysia but recently, with the designation of KEP as the National Herbarium of Malaysia, the mandate has considerably widened to include research collection and preservation of all vascular plants of Malaysia, including bamboos and rattans as well as palms, gingers, and other herbaceous families (e.g. Gesneriaceae), orchids, climbers, ferns and lycophytes.

As a National Herbarium, the Kepong Herbarium is destined to provide the following functions:

  • as a centre of reference and research of vascular plants;
  • to conduct basic botanical research and to make available research findings through publications (e.g. floras, tree floras, checklists etc.);
  • to provide facilities for the study of related sciences, such as, ecology, silviculture and environmental assessment;
  • to provide data and information for forestry management, planning and conservation; and
  • education, especially in tree identification courses.

Current Collection & Management

Today, the Kepong Herbarium has over 300,000 specimens arranged following the modern Linear Sequence of Angiosperm Phylogeny Grouping (LAPG II), and is managed through the use of BRAHMS (Botanical Research And Herbarium Management System) software.

Any further information please contact:

Dr. Richard Chung Cheng Kong
Tel: 03-62797231
Email: richard[at]frim[dot]gov[dot]my

FRIM Entomological Reference Collection

Historical Background

FRIM Entomological Reference Collection has started as early as 1932 when FG Browne was appointed as the first entomologist in FRIM. Since then, emphasis was given in developing collection of insects considered to be wood destroying insects or pest of forest trees valued for their timber. Most of the collection are from the beetles of the family Scolytidae dan Platypodidae many of which were ambrosia beetles.

The collections survived the Second World War but little development of the collection took place during the time. Unfortunately after independence, most of the collection including Browne’s type specimens were taken to Africa and eventually deposited at British Museum of Natural History, now known as the Natural History Museum, London.

KD Menon has continued to work on the development of specimens after Browne. He has continue to work on wood borers as well as a range of other insects. He is responsible for building up a reference collection for other insects groups mainly consisted of native species which remains in Insect Reference Collection Center FRIM until now. Tho Yow Pong who later joined the institute is responsible for the development of a very large collection of termites and moth as well as specimens of other insect groups.  The specimens continue to grow through various expeditions and international collaborative projects from Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and United States of America. Approximately 20 collaboration projects with local and international agencies has been conducted so far and insects collected has been stored and curated by FRIM Entomological Reference Collection Specimens from various expedition such as ekspedisi Hutan Simpan Kota Damansara (2011), ekspedisi Hutan Simpan Panti (2008-2010), Ekspedisi Endau Rompin (1992) are also curated here.

FRIM Entomological Reference Collection is a well known reference center for taxonomists and scientists in South East Asia as it holds approximately 600,000 insects of which 10,000 has been identified to species. It also holds approximately 229 holotype* and almost 1,000 paratype** for new species collected in Malaysia and neighbouring countries. Number of publications has been produced based on the collection of specimens stored at FRIM Entomological Reference Collection has exceeds 200 publication including thesis, book, journal, scientific papers and technical and also online.

* ** Holotype and paratype refers to a specimen that was examined and studied by the original describer who named the particular species. The specimen is important in taxonomic work.

Function of Insect Reference Collection

Main function of the FRIM Entomological Reference Collection is as follows:

  • as a centre of reference and research of insects;
  • to conduct entomological research and to make available research findings through publications (e.g, checklists, factsheets, books, scientific papers);
  • to provide facilities for insect related studies
  • to provide data and information for forestry management, planning and conservation; and environmental assessment.
  • education, especially in insect identification

Current Collection & Management

The collection is housed in high quality glass top wooden drawers and preserved in a well-maintained air-conditioned room with low humidity to prevent pest damage such as book lice and mite, and fungal infection. Periodical maintenance of the collection and collection room is made by Entomology staff. A digital record of the specimens is currently being developed.

Any further information please contact:

Dr. Nada Badruddin
Tel: 03-6279 7111/ 7112
E-mail: nada[at]

Images (PDF)

Bamboo and Palm Gallery

Historical Background

Bamboo and Palm Gallery was established in 2013 to mark FRIM’s 30 years R&D efforts on bamboo, rattan and other palms. The gallery is located inside the D14 building which was built in 1993 to house a workshop and offices for the researchers under the Bamboo and Rattan Unit. Officiated on April 9th 2014 by the then minister of Natural Reosurces and Environment (NRE), Dato’ Seri G. Palanivel, the gallery received a recognition from the Malaysia Book of Records as the “First Bamboo and Palm Gallery” eight months later on January 20th 2015.

Function of the Gallery

  • To display collection of bamboo, rattan and other palms specimens (not for loan).
  • As a reference centre in the fields a of bamboo, rattan and other palms.

Current Collections of Bamboo, Rattan & Other Palms

  • Stem/woody parts
  • Leaves
  • Leaf sheaths
  • Rhizomes (roots/shoots)
  • Fruits
  • Traditional products
  • New and innovative products

Any further information, please contact:

Name: Dr Mohd Tamizi Mustafa
E-mail: tamizi[at]frim[dot]gov[dot]my
Tel: 03-6279 7432

Name: Dr Wan Tarmeze Wan Ariffin
E-mail: tarmeze[at]frim[dot]gov[dot]my
Tel: 03-6279 7419


Historical Background

The Kepong Xylarium (KEPw) collection in FRIM founded in 1918 marked the historical interest on wood identification and classification of commercial timbers. Gradual addition to the wood collection was made throughout the years of its collection. It was only in 1925 that the record on the wood collection was documented systematically and classified separately according to states of origin in the country and those of foreign woods obtained on an exchange basis. By the end of 1945, the collection was recorded at 5, 918 specimens. In 1963, a separate collection of wood specimens from East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) was started. All the wood samples collected were authenticated and could be cross-referenced to the corresponding voucher specimens kept at the Kepong Herbarium.

The wood specimens in the Kepong Xylarium to date has over 10,000 specimens. A survey conducted by The International Association of Wood Anatomists (IAWA) in 2010 made the Kepong Xylarium the largest wood specimen collection in Malaysia. The Kepong Xylarium also housed the oldest collection of wood specimens as evidenced by several wood specimens of keruing (Dipterocarpus caudatus, D. cornutus, D. costulatus, D. kerrii, D. rigidus, D. stellatus, D. sublamellatus and D. verrucosus), balau (Shorea lumutensis) and red balau (Shorea collina). These wood specimens aged over 100 years. They were still in complete condition and showed no signs of insect or fungal attack. Thus, indicating Malaysian timbers could withstand normal weather condition more than hundred years under shade without any chemical treatment. In 2012 the Kepong Xylarium collection was declared and awarded the largest and the oldest wood collection in Malaysia by Malaysia Book of Records (MBR).

Function of Xylarium

Main functions of the Kepong Xylarium (KEPw) Collection are as follows:

  • As the reference material for wood identification services provided to the public, industries and authorities to ensure the right type of timber is supplied and the right strength to be used for structural purposes
  • As the reference centre for education especially in wood identification courses
  • As the reference centre for scientific research in wood anatomical study

Current Collection & Management

The wood specimens in the Kepong Xylarium (KEPw) to date has over 10,000 specimens from 108 families, 426 genera and 1587 species from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. The collection is preserved in a well-maintained air-conditioned room with low humidity to protect the specimens from damage caused by insect attacks such as mites and fungal infection.

Any further information please contact:

Nordahlia Abdullah Siam
Wood Anatomy Laboratory
Timber Technology Centre
Forest Research Institute Malaysia
52109, Kepong Selangor
03-6279 7403/7405

The Centre for Authentication of Herbal Raw Material (CAHRM), FRIM

Historical Background

The Centre for Authentication of Herbal Raw Material (CAHRM), FRIM serves to provide Certificates of Analysis (COA) for the authentication of herbal raw materials with the ultimate goal of empowering the Malaysian herbal industry by improving the quality, safety and efficacy of manufactured products. The various laboratories involved in the CAHRM have received the status of BioNexus Partners (BNP) Laboratories from the Bioeconomy Corporation.  The aim of the centre is to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the use of herbs, to provide a platform for the scientific development of guidelines for quality assurance, to promote responsible and sustainable commerce of herbal products within the industry and trade of herbs, to ensure the competitiveness of domestic herbs in the world market, to become a reference and training centre, and also conservation centre of herbal species.

BioNexus Partners (BNP) laboratories

Historical Background

FRIM has been recognised as a Centre of Excellence in forest biotechnology and the development of natural products, with two biotechnology and four natural product R&D laboratories being awarded with BioNexus Partner (BNP) status. The Tissue Culture Laboratory and Genetics Laboratory were granted BNP status in 2008, which offers services on mass propagation of planting materials and tests on identification and authentication of plants through DNA technology, respectively. The Phytochemistry Laboratory obtained the BNP status in 2009, while the Herbal Product Development Laboratory, Pharmacognosy Laboratory and Herbal Technology Centre (HTC) in 2011.

The BNP laboratories offer a collaborative network of key facilities, services and expertise with other universities, research institutes, technology parks, incubation centres and government-linked companies (GLC) with the aim of empowering our local biotechnology and herbal industry. As a part of this programme, FRIM has performed testing services on more than 4,700 samples from at least 400 companies/clients. Three of these laboratories are accredited under the MS ISO/IEC 17025 scheme, of which the Natural Product Quality Control Laboratory (NPQC) has been a panel laboratory for the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), Ministry of Health since 2016. The quality control testing report produced by NPQC laboratory can verify the quality and safety of products and directly expedite the process of product registration with NPRA.  At the same time, HTC has also obtained Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Halal certification to improve the quality of traditional herbal products. In addition, the Best BNP for AgBiotech Award and Most Collaborative BNP Award were awarded to two BNP laboratories in 2013 and 2015, respectively.

The Bioeconomy Corporation has continuously extended the BNP status for the six BNP laboratories in view of their outstanding performances. Equipped with state-of-the-art research facilities and expertise, FRIM welcomes partnerships with the forest biotechnology and herbal industries to improve the quality of planting materials and herbal products, enhance business competitiveness and expand into international markets.


Historical Background

DNA Bank Collection is an efficient and novel approach to safeguard the loss of genetic resources as well as to maintain the richness and diversity encoded in plant genomes. Malaysia, as one of the megadiversity countries with over 15,000 species of vascular plants, is the primary reason for establishing a DNA Bank at FRIM to conserve genetic information from Malaysia’s entire flora.

FRIM DNA Bank has been established since 2009. Currently, it contains approximately 24,000 plant genomic DNA samples, stored in -80 °C freezer. Each DNA sample is marked with information such as its scientific name, local name, family name, location, collector(s) name and date of collection. Approximately 30% of these DNA samples have herbarium vouchers. The DNA Bank now has 1,658 plant species from 578 genera and 144 families (Table 1). The collection reflected the research activities carried out at the Genetics Laboratory of FRIM, whereby majority samples consisted of commercial timber species, herbal and medicinal plants, edible fruit species and critically endangered plant species. Extensive collections from various locations throughout Malaysia were available for species with population genetics studies and DNA profiling. These collections include Neobalanocarpus heimii (Chengal), Shorea platyclados (Meranti Bukit), S. leprosula (Meranti Tembaga), S. curtisii (Meranti Seraya), Dryobalanops aromatica (Kapur), D. oblongifolia (Keladan), Gonystylus bancanus (Ramin Melawis), Aquilaria malaccesis (Karas), Koompassia malaccensis (Kempas), Intsia palembanica (Merbau), Rhizophora apiculata (Bakau Minyak) and R. mucronata (Bakau Kurap).

The DNA Bank provides a valuable source of research materials for current and future generations. A wide range of research and studies can benefit from the DNA Bank facility, including phylogenetics, phylogeography and population genetics, as well as the development of DNA markers. Furthermore, it functions as a record for plant species diversity and as a basis for conservation genetic and biotechnology studies. Most importantly, the DNA Bank enables bioprospecting for the identification of genes underlying important traits such as drug biosynthesis, food quality, pathogen resistance and stress tolerance in plants.

DNA samples in microtubes & herbarium voucher

Table 1: The number of plant families, genera and species in the FRIM DNA Bank

DNA samples in -80 °C freezer Herbarium vouchers storage


Historical Background

Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) library, one of the oldest libraries in Malaysia was established to support the research and development activities of FRIM since its inception.

The library which initially contained general science titles further expanded when it took over the Applied & Technical Botany collection from the Federated Malay States Museum. The first library cataloging was done by F.S. Walker in 1933 whereby it was discovered that the library contained 3000 books and subscribed to 40 journal titles. The Oxford System Decimal Classification (ODC) was used to classify books on forestry during the year 1949. At present, the library continues to expand in line with advancements in FRIM’s research field and its collection has now exceeded 12000 titles and more than 2000 titles of serial publications to date.

Any further information please contact:

Norain Mohd Arif
Tel: 03-62797231
Email: norain[at]frim[dot]gov[dot]my