What Makes Merbau Unique ?, Malaysia’s National Tree

Woods ready to make furniture

Everybody knows that the Malaysian national animal is the Malayan tiger (scientific name: Panthera Tigris) and  Malaysia’s national flower, the Bunga Raya (Hibiscus rosa-Sinensis), which is even highlighted in the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 logo. But, did you know Malaysia’s national tree? Recently, Merbau has announced a national tree for Malaysia.  As Malaysia Day approaches, let’s get to know our national tree Merbau:

 Common Names Of Merbau In English

In Malay, Merbau is Known as Pokok Merbau the tree has a few basic names in English which incorporate Borneo teak, Malacca teak, and Moluccan ironwood. Due to its hardness, it is named as ironwood,  but this might be confusing as there are many species with the same common name in English, including Borneo ironwood (in Malay it is named as Pokok Belian) and Ceylon ironwood (Hopea odorata, or Pokok Merawan Siput Jantan in Malay).

There’s More Than One Merbau

Some of you who know your trees may know an alternate Merbau that appears to be unique to the national tree. Well, In Malay there’s more than one tree which is called Merbau.

The scientific name of the Malaysian national tree is Intsia palembanica, which is simply called Pokok Merbau in Malay. But at the same time, there’s Intsia bijuga (Pacific teak, scour mahogany, or Johnstone River teak in English), which is called Pokok Merbau Ipil in Malay. A  neighbouring country like Indonesia, Intsia palembanica is called Merbau Darat (inland merbau) while Intsia bijuga is named Merbau Pantai (coastal merbau).

Characteristics Of Merbau

In the tropical region, Merbau is one of the tallest trees, It can grow up to tall (around 164 feet)and also can reach 150 centimetres (around 59 inches) in width. One of the most special features of the tree that it’s sparsely branched.

Why Merbau Is In High Demand?

Due to its hardwood, durability, and known to be resistant to fungi, wood borers and termites, Merbau is in high demand. In the timber world, Merbau is considered as a hot thing, also it has an extraordinary feature such as it is very-friendly ocean water as well as saline soils and salt-laden winds. This wood gives a fine polish and also it uses for furniture and flooring.

Medicinal Values Of Merbau Tree

Bark and leaves of merbau trees are one of the traditional medicine used for the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery. Apart from traditional herbs,  the pharmaceutical industry also showing their interest  in merbau for its skin whitening and anti-acne agents.

Studies demonstrated that merbau has the possibility to hinder the lipase action of Propionibacterium acnes. For skin whitening, merbau is known for its flavonoid compounds with the possibility to hinder of melanin cell development.

Having a national tree shows the importance of sustainable development to the next level and forest. A Merbau tree also helps to instil a sense of pride in the flora and fauna of this country.

The scientific name which means from Palembang (the capital of South Sumatra, Indonesia), Merbau tree grows in all over Asia and Pacific from India, Indochina, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, Philippines and right to New Guinea. But apparently, it skips one island known as java

Merbau, Malaysian’s national tree that each  Malaysians can take the merbau as a symbol as national pride due to its hardy nature.

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