On Sapotaceae

Nyatuh tree(1)

Some of the Nyatuh trees features. 

I am not a Botanist. I have to specifically say that in case you found my posting sounds absurd or I provide wrong information, so please correct me if I got it wrong. 

Last year, when I first participate in botanical survey (my first time) with Botanical Research Centre (BRC) and Singapore Botanic Garden (SBG) I was attracted with Begonias. Why? Because it is not difficult to spot them but for the first few days, I always get the wrong plants. After a few days, I can differentiate Begonias with other herbaceous plants.

This year, one of the senior botanist from Scotland working on his Sapotaceae research programme so I am kindda interested with his work because it is related with the local communities. So, I am eager to know more how and what is this Sapotaceae trees looks like.

The tropical tree family Sapotaceae is a major research focus of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The family contains over 50 genera and about 1200 species and is both ecologically and economically important. It is the second most valuable timber tree family in Southeast Asia. The copious latex found in their wood has been used as gutta-percha and chewing-gum. Many other species produce edible fruits such as sapote and sapodilla. Micropholis guyanensis bark slash (photo Vanessa Plana)

The principal aim of the Sapotaceae research programme is to produce and facilitate the production of monographs and phylogenies of understudied taxa, in particular species rich and pan-tropical genera. Southeast Asian and Neotropical taxa are poorly studied and are of particular interest. International collaboration and field expeditions are providing additional material necessary for taxonomic, molecular phylogenetic and biogeographic research. (Quote from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh website)

In the field, we asked locals to help us identify any Nyatuh (Sapotaceae) trees along the ridges and rivers we were working on. During our trip to Ng Bloh, we only found a few trees but it is good enough for me to start learning about it. What I can recognize easily is this tree have a white latex when you make a small cut on its bark. Okay! It is not the only tree that produce white latex because there is other plant family do the same. Then, Dr Peter explain more on the keys to identify Nyatuh trees including the leaf type. However, when it comes to the plants I must admit I am a slow learner.


Trying to get the latex from the Nyatuh tree. Photo credit to Dr Peter.

Recently, during my trip to Mt Lanjak, I try my best to identify Nyatuh trees but again, I failed to do so. One of the locals help me to identify Nyatuh and to my surprise, there is a lot of Nyatuh trees on this side of Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary. We even found Nyatuh trees on the ridge above 1,000m a.s.l towards the Mt Lanjak. This old man shared a story of his ancestors which once tapping the latex of Nyatuh trees and sell it to the Chinese merchants. This happen before the introduction of rubber trees as a monoculture crop. Interesting to know that once, this tree is an alternative income for the local communities in this area.

As a conclusion, I am still not a botanist. Ok, bye!


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