Light red meranti (Shorea leprosula)

Light red meranti
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Light red meranti fact file

Light red meranti description

GenusShorea (1)

This tall tree, which has a copper-coloured crown and shallowly ridged, greyish-brown bark, is one of the many dipterocarp species that dominant the forests of Asia (2) (3) (4). The trunk, which is buttressed to a height of about 1.5 metres, rises up to a cauliflower-shaped crown of leaves that appears pale coppery, yellow-brown from below. The individual leaves are leathery and measure up to 14.5 centimetres long. The upper surface may be smooth or with a sparse covering of grey brown hairs on the surface, and is reddish-brown, purplish-brown or brown when dry. The lower surface of the leaf is a dull greyish-brown or yellowish-brown, rough to the touch, and densely covered with short yellow-brown hairs. The flowers of the light red meranti are small with yellow petals (2). The fruit is a single-seeded nut enveloped in a covering bearing three long and two shorter wings (2) (3).

Height: up to 60 m (2)

Light red meranti biology

The light red meranti flowers only once every two to five years, with nearly all the light red merantis in a region flowering at the same time (3) (5). The small flowers, which each bear both male and female reproductive parts, open in the evening and are visited by common flower thrips (Thrips and Megalurothrips species), which are attracted to the flower’s strong scent (5). Following flowering and pollination by the thrips, the fruit is produced. The winged fruit is dispersed by the wind, but due to the structure of the wings, they spin fairly quickly to the ground, and are rarely carried more than 50 metres away from the parent tree (3) (5). The light red meranti is said to grow fast for the first twenty years (2), but is does not reach reproductive maturity until an age of 25 (5).

Like all dipterocarp trees, the light red meranti produces an oily aromatic resin, known locally as dammar, which is thought to help protect the tree against attacks by bacteria, fungi and animals. The leaves also contain tannins, a bitter-tasting substance which makes this tree unappealing to any leaf-eating animal such as the orang-utan and proboscis monkey (3).


Light red meranti range

Distributed from southern Thailand, through Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra, to Borneo (2) (5).


Light red meranti habitat

The light red meranti inhabits dipterocarp forest on lower hill slopes and valleys, primarily below 700 metres (2). It grows on a range of soils, but does not tolerate waterlogged areas (4).


Light red meranti status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Light red meranti threats

Light red meranti has been heavily exploited for its valuable timber, leaving populations of this threatened tree drastically reduced (1).


Light red meranti conservation

The light red meranti is known to occur in some forest reserves (1).


Find out more

For further information on the conservation of forests see:



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Trees of the family Dipterocarpaceae: resinous trees that are found in the old world tropics.
The transfer of pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.


  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2007)
  2. Newman, M.F., Burgess, P.F. and Whitmore, T.C. (1996) Borneo Island Light Hardwoods: Ansioptera, Parashorea, Shorea (Red, White and Yellow Meranti). Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
  3. Corlett, R. and Primack, R. (2005) Dipterocarps: trees that dominate the Asian rain forest. Arnoldia, 63: 2 - 7.
  4. Jøker, D. (2002) Seed Leaflet 64: Shorea leprosula Miq. Danida Forest Seed Centre, Denmark.
  5. Lee, S.L., Wickneswari, R., Mahani, M.C. and Zakri, A.H. (2000) Mating system parameters in a tropical tree species, Shorea leprosula Miq. (Dipterocarpaceae) from Malaysian lowland dipterocarp forest. Biotropica, 32(4): 693 - 702.

Image credit

Light red meranti  
Light red meranti

© Fletcher & Baylis

Wildside Photography


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