Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dipterocarpus alatus--iconic giant street tree of Ho Chi Minh City

 
 
 

I visited Ho Chi Minh City recently and was amazed to see giant trees of Dipterocarpus alalus growing as street trees in the older parts of the city. I estimate their age to be 80 to 100 years, which means they would have been planted during French colonial rule. Dipterocarpus alatus belongs to Dipterocarpaceae, which is the dominant timber-tree family of SE Asia. Dipterocarpus alatus itself is native to Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Philippines.

In Malaysia and Singapore two other members of the family have been planted as street trees in the past 10 - 20 years. These are Hopea odorata (also commonly planted in Vietnam) and Shorea roxburghii. Both are doing well as street trees and will eventually become giants.
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15 comments:

Autumn Belle said...

Dr. Ng,

Happy Morning!

Ho Chi Minh is such a beautiful city now. The aged old trees add a rustic charm and a certain calm to the place. I hope the trees are protected from being cut off by some irresponsible people.

In Malaysia, where can we see the living Hopea odorata and Shorea trees ?

AaronVFT said...

Hi Dr. Ng, I'm really happy in finding your blog since there are so many unique and wonderful plants. That is an enormous tree! There's a tree like that too just opposite my house!

Dr Francis Ng said...

Hi Autumn Belle and Aaron. Hopea odorata may be seen in Kuala Lumpur in Desa Park City and Sri Damansara. Shorea roxburghii is planted in Sri Damansara. I think about 300 species of native forest trees have been introduced into urban areas in the past 20 years. We have 2830 species of forest trees, so many more are waiting to be tried.

Andrea said...

Hi Dr Ng, happy posting again, we miss your posts. That Dipterocarpus alatus is also one of our timber trees, apitong. Our national tree in the Philippines, the narra, Pterocarpus indicus, is also planted on the sidewalks of Bangkok. But they are regularly prunned to maintain them small. They are very good furniture materials.

AaronVFT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Francis Ng said...

Hi Andrea, I was busy for several months writing the 100 year history of forest research in Malaysia. The book will be published by the Forest Research Institute Malaysia next month. I was quite exhausted at the end of each day.

AaronVFT said...

Hi Dr. Ng,

Can I use the photo of your passion flower for a magazine competition ( i'm writing about unique plants and the need to save the jungles.)

Thanks.

AaronVFT said...

Also, I will be visiting the Secret Garden this June 9th. Hope I can meet you. Finally I get to see your marvelous work myself!

Dr Francis Ng said...

Hi Aaron, sure you can use my pictures anytime. June 9 is a Wednesday, Aaron. The Secret Garden is open only on Saturdays and Sundays. Also I will be overseas in the second week of June. We'll meet another time.

AaronVFT said...

Oh too bad. Never mind then.

Anonymous said...

It is nice to hear of these majestic tall tropical trees being used in the streetscape. But I am not sure these trees are able to withstand the heat from the pathment, or limited root spaces...

earth9.wordpress.com

Dr Francis Ng said...

There are many examples of big trees grown on pavements in cities. Apart from Dipterocarpus alatus in Ho Chi Minh City, the plane trees of Rome, London and Nanjing come to mind. Also Pterocarpus indicus (sena or narra) of Singapore, Penang and Manila. What is worrying is what damage the trees will cause if they fall.

The technology for monitoring the health of standing trees is not in place yet and the roads are usually not designed for efficient removal of big trees. Ideally big machines should drive up to the trees and grab them in upright position while they are being cut and lowered down piece by piece.

nadiah said...

hello dr. ng, i am a student doing a survey on young hopea odorata trees on the roadside in singapore, for my final year project. i have fully gathered info on the matured hopea trees, however, it was almost impossible to find out about the growing condition for the young hopea odorata trees. and i need this info to explain the very bad condition of these very young hopea odorata trees(about 5 to 6m). they are not doing well, esp, the ones planted near a pterocarpus indicus trees! if u dont mind sharing, me and my groupmates would certainly be interested in the additional facts that u might be able to provide. and being able to get such info from an influential person in the field like u, it will surely allow my project to earn its credibility. i hope u can help me! thank you dr. ng. :)

Dr Francis Ng said...

Nadiah, you need to play detective on your own, and contact botanists in Singapore at NUS or at NParks who can help you. I am too far away to help.

Jean said...

Many Dipterocarpaceae species are endangered and ex-situ conservation in urbanized areas is needed since there are not enough lowland forest reserves left for their long term protection.
I would be very grateful if you could map dipterocarpaceae planted in Singapore on http://pericopsis.org/ a free and collaborative wiki for tree naming and mapping.