Tempinis Tree (Streblus Elongatus)
There is a hardwood tree species native to Singapore that is so strong and durable, it was prized for making boats and furniture. Its scientific name is Streblus Elongatus and it is a member of the fig tree family.
The Tempinis Tree is evergreen and can grow up to 35 metres tall — that’s over eight floors high! It has a rounded crown, and its bark is greyish-brown and rough. It can be identified by the oblong-elliptical leaves that are thinly leathery, drooping, and yellowish green in colour. The tip of the leaf is sharply pointed with an unequal base.
The flowers occur in hanging green spikes or catkins, while its fruits are round and enclosed at the base of the flower. Both male and female flowers are produced on the same tree because the Tempenis species is monoecious. Insects pollinate the flowers and the ripe fruits are eaten by squirrels, monkeys and birds.
Many may be familiar with the fact that the town of Tampines is named after the Tempinis tree, possibly because it thrived there in the past. Sadly, the Tempinis tree is no longer abundant in Singapore. Roots.gov.sg notes that “the Tempinis trees that lent their name to this district went virtually extinct due to rampant and unsustainable exploitation. In 1995, a project to transplant the Tempinis tree all over Tampines was started. And two of the finest specimens are listed as “Heritage Trees” by the National Parks Board (@nparksbuzz) – one in Changi and another at St. John’s Island.
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