Simpoh Malesia

All about learning Dillenia

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Is it Dillenia excelsa?

My first ever fieldwork during my master was carried out in Ayer Keroh Forest Reserve, Malacca. I went there with my best friend who was on her way back to her hometown. Upon reaching the place, we went to the ranger office to ask for the permission to gather the leaves and inflorescence of Dillenia as boucher. He said that there aren’t any of the species that have been labeled so far and we might have to rumble through the inner forest to find the Dillenia species. He was not that sure where to find it too. My instinct also told me that he is not that familiar with this genus either, although he tried hard to help us by showing us some references on that genus. He told us that the trees of ‘simpoh’ are always stilt-rooted which of course I don’t agree but I just abide him.

With that, we venture into the forest in search of Dillenia. True to what the ranger said, we didn’t manage to find any species nearby, so we wandered inner the jungle. We stopped quite often to take a look at the leaves on the top canopy trying to scrutinized whether the leaves description tally with any of the Dillenia species that are expected to occur in Malacca. Most of the leaves that we thought are of some resemblance turned out to be far from it when we got nearer to the tree. After much trial and error and being stung with dozens of mosquitoes, we were really exhausted and almost gave up. Without our realization, almost 3 hours had slipped away. On our way out, a tree caught my eye and my instinct tell me that this might be a tree I’m looking for.

We approached the tree and I started to look at the fallen leaves. The shape, colour, apex, base, petiol, veins and size are very close with the description of Dillenia excelsa. The only thing that doesn’t fit is that the abaxial of the leaves are not really sparsely to densely hairy as described. You can only manage to see few hairs standing apart from each other if scrutinizing the abaxial of the leaves with magnifying glass. To further clarify this species, I tried by comparing the description of the bark. After much consideration, I think it does fit the description. With this comfirmation, I decided to capture the photographs of it. It is really a hard work to capture a nice photo of tall trees with the presence of sunlight glimpses. I can’t even focused on the nearest fresh leaves to capture its’ morphological structure.

Later on, we tried to pluck the nearest leaves to be my boucher specimen. Unfortunately, it’s too high for us to reach (picture above) and we’re unable to find much longer stem to be our pole. After trying for about half an hour, we quit. We only brought back a few dried leaves and manage to find 2 to 3 yellowish green leaves for my anatomical sample. Somehow, I’m still doubtful of this species that I gather as it differs with the herbarium leaves that I observed in UKMB especially the leaf surface. I’m not sure whether it’s due to natural drying leaves with oven dried leaves. I guess I’ll consult En. Shamsul for his opinion as he has better experienced and might be able to settle my doubt.


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