Monday, August 01, 2005

Calling all residents of Tampines!

Our tree this week should be familiar with many residents of the East of Singapore. It is the Tempinis tree, after which the estate Tampines was named. The scientific name for the Tempinis is Streblus elongatus. In Latin, Streblus means crooked while elongatus means elongated or lengthened - possibly refering to the flowers arranged in catkins (spikelike, often pendulous, inflorescence of petal-less unisexual flowers, see below).

The Tempinis is scattered about the lowland forests of the Malaysian Peninsula, as well as Sumatra. It is also one of the more common trees in Bukit Timah and the rest of Singapore, so one should have no problem finding one. To identify one, look for:
  • A medium sized tree, which may reach 33m height and 80cm in diameter.
  • The trunk is often slightly fluted (with furrows or grooves/not perfectly round).
  • The bark is usually smooth to dippled (bark peeled off in tiny patches, leaving some "scooped" marks), sometimes shallowly fissured, and is grey-brown in colour. Often, it will have a patchy green-white colouration due to lichens growing on the bark.

  • The leaves are simple, and are arranged alternately. The leaf is oblong-elliptic in shape, sized about 10~38cm x 2~8cm large, and has a stalk about 0.2cm~1.3cm long. The apex (tip of the leaf) is sharply pointed, the base is unequal, and there are about 10-20 secondary nerves which are sunken above and visible on both sides of the leaf. If you touch a leaf, the undersurface is usually rough.


Timber of Tempines is very hard, very heavy, and is one of the most durable. Scarce supplies, however, means that use of Tempinis timber is limited to small articles such as tool handles in which both toughness and flexibility is needed.

The tree is all throughout Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and there are many along the main road. Tampines residents should definitely go check this tree out!

9 comments:

Blog said...

Thanks! you helped me out in my project about nature trees!

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