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Karamunting : An Ornamental Shrub

Botanical Name: Rhodomyrtus tomentosa

Native to South-east Asia and Southern China. ‘Karamunting' is an evergreen shrub which usually grows to 2 m tall, but occasionally to 4 m tall. Its leaves are opposite, simple, entire, elliptic- oval, to 3 in. long. The leaves are glossy green above and densely soft-hairy below, with 3 main veins from the leaf base. Karamunting flowers in June. The flowers are rose-pink, to 25 mm across, in one-to few-flowered clusters at the leaf axils. The fruit is a bluish-purple round berry about 13 mm across, and looks like blueberry but more oblong.
The bushy karamunting growing among the bushes at the edge of regenerating forest in Kebun Cina; upper left picture shows the bright rose-pink flower.
The seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals, which consume the fruits. Apparently this species is well adapted to forest fire. ‘Karamunting' resprouts prolifically after fires. The fruit of ‘ Karamunting' is edible and has been reported to be used to make jam. Its bright rose-pink flower and bushy habit make it a suitable ornamental shrub. The place “Karamunting” in Sandakan is named after this shrub.

Karamunting flower

Jiak: A Fire-Resistant Tree

Botanical Name: Symplocos polyandra




Jiak is also known as Bundo bundo, Mundu mundu and Salambuno. Native to Borneo and adjacent islands, the Philippines and south-west Sulawesi. Small tree to 32 m tall. Bark deeply or finely fissured, dark grey to black, hard. Leaves spirally arranged, crowded towards the end of the twigs. Young leaves purplish red. Typical habitat of the species is secondary lowland or kerangas forests. Found on poor, well-drained sandy or rocky soils. Resistant to forest fire. Timber is locally used for light construction.

The purplish red young leaves more clearly
Habit of Symplocos polyandra

Rengas : A Poisonous Tree

Botanical Name: Gluta wallichii


Found in Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo. Common and widely distributed in Sabah.

Medium-sized to large tree with watery whitish sap turning black on exposure. The sap is poisonous and causes very itchy rashes for people who are allergic to it.

Rengas fruit
Rengas seedling

Kopi-kopi: A Common Shrub
Botanical Name: Gaertnera vaginans

Distributed in Tropical Africa, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Indo-China, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo.

Shrub up to 6 m tall with small white flowers. Inflorescences in panicles. Leaves opposite and simple. Easily distinguished from other members of the Rubiaceae family in having fused stipules, forming a tube around the stem, often with pointed tips.

The fused stipules

Typical habitat of this species is undisturbed to slightly disturbed forest. Mostly on hillsides and ridges. Usually on poor soils, but also on clay, limestone and ultramafic soil.

This shrub is called Kopi-kopi because it resembles the coffee shrub.

The terminal inflorescence of the Gaertnera vaginans

Other Common Trees & Shrubs
Adinandra dumosa (Bawing)
Alphitonia excelsa (Pakudita)
Dillenia suffruticosa (Simpoh)
Melastoma malabathricum (Sendudok)
Trema cannabina (Randagong)
Alstonia angustiloba (Pulai)
Cratoxylum cochinchinense (Geronggang)
Pternandra coerulescens (Sirih-sirih)


The information provided above is based on the poster(s) displayed at Kebun Cina Gallery.

Click the following link(s) to view the poster(s).



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