Characteristics of Tembesu Tree (Fagraea fragrans) in the Wild

Fagraea fragrans
Tembusu is a large tree species in the Gentianaceae family, native to Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, and Burma. In Indonesia, this tree is found growing on the island of Sumatra.

There are several species of tree called Tembesu, but one that is considered to be the native Tembesu tree is Fagraea cochinchinensis. Meanwhile, Fagraea fragrans is just a tree that is similar and also has hardwood.

In various Southeast Asian countries, this tree is known by many different names such as Buabua (Fiji Islands), Urung (Philippines), Temasuk (Sabah), Tatrao, Trai (Vietnam), Kan Krao (Thailand), Tembesu (Indonesia), Anan, Anama (Burma), Munpla (Laos), and Ta Trao (Cambodia).

Tembesu is a slow-growing tree after the tree is 30 years old and quite old, the wood is harvested. Tembesu wood is pale yellow with lavender spots, smells sour when freshly cut, and has characteristics of being hard, heavy, and durable.


Characteristics of Tembesu Leaf

Fagraea fragrans Leaf
Source : Cambodia

The leaves are light green and oval.


Characteristics of Tembesu Flower

Fagraea fragrans Flower
Source :阿橋 HQ

The flowers are yellowish and the aroma varies from region to region.


Characteristics of Tembesu Fruit

Fagraea fragrans Fruit
Source : Large

Tembesu fruit resembles berries and tastes bitter.


Characteristics of Tembesu Tree

Fagraea fragrans Tree
Source : Sheila

The Tembesu tree grows with an irregular shape, in its wild habitat, it can reach a height of 35 meters and a trunk diameter of up to 2 meters. The wood is dark brown, with cracked and rough bark.


The Tembesu tree is often used for its very hard, strong, and termite-resistant wood (class 1 hardwood). Because of its strength, tembesu wood is mostly used to make tools that require strong and durable wood such as restaurant cutting boards, expensive furniture, and steps for heavy objects. The durability of Tembesu wood is known for more than 100 years.

The leaves are used as a traditional medicine in Malaysia.

The roots of the Tembesu tree are strong enough to withstand flood currents. Thus, this tree is also planted and cultivated in several places in Southeast Asia as a tree for preventing erosion on roadsides and areas prone to flooding or landslides.


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