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Fruit trees in a Malaysian rain forest

Saw, L.G., LaFrankie, J.V., Kochummen, K.M., Yap, S.K.
Economic botany 1991 v.45 no.1 pp. 120-136
Mangifera, Garcinia, Artocarpus, Nephelium, Parkia, fruit trees, botanical composition, flora, genetic resources, tropical rain forests, forest inventory, Malaysia
An inventory was made of 50 ha of primary lowland rain forest in Peninsular Malaysia, in which ca. 340,000 trees 1 cm dbh or larger were measured and identified to species. Out of a total plot tree flora of 820 species, 76 species are known to bear edible fruit. Especially diverse were the wild species of mango (Mangifera, Anacardiaceae, 12 spp.), mangosteen (Garcinia, Clusiaceae, 13 spp.), breadfruit (Artocarpus, Moraceae, 10 spp.) and rambutan (Nephelium, Sapindaceae, 5 spp.). Median population size for all species of fruit trees was 3.0 trees per ha and 0.2 adult trees per ha. Direct economic value of wild fruit trees was small; only one species has been very much collected and sold, Parkia speciosa (Fabaceae), amounting to less than US$20 per ha per year. The potential value of the species as genetic resources is very large: 24 species are cultivated, 38 edible species are congeneric with cultivated crops and at least 10 other species bear inedible fruit but are related to cultivated crops. We conclude that the Peninsular Malaysian rain forest is exceedingly rich in wild fruit trees, that these normally live at low densities, and that their principal economic value is as genetic resources.