Salam, Serah, Kelat Samak, Indonesian Bay-leaf
Between the Maths and Science blocks (2 trees) and along the fence opposite Senior House main entrance.
REF. NO. ON COLLEGE MAP:
FORM, TRUNK, LEAVES:
This is a medium to tall tree (20-30m) with an oval or cylindrical crown. On older trees the trunk has a grey, flaky bark. The simple, light green, oval leaves are quite small, becoming narrower at both ends. New leaves are reddish. When crushed, the leaves give off a guava-like scent.
The small flowers (about 1cm diameter) start off creamy white but then turn pale pink. They grow in small clusters from the twigs behind the leaves. All Salam trees in Singapore tend to flower at the same time, possibly triggered by a fall in temperature. The small, round, red fruits have a single seed. These fruits turn purple-black as they ripen. They attract countless birds, which help to disperse the seeds. In the past, children used to love eating the sweetish fruits.
POINTS OF INTEREST (e.g. uses, cultural links etc):
The aromatic leaves are used in local cooking as a spice. They are used, for example, to flavour lontong (a local dish made of compressed rice wrapped inside banana leaf that is then cut into small cakesThe bark was once used for tanning fishing nets and colouring mats. Malay people have used a bark extract or infusion of the leaves to treat itches. A scientific study in 2011 found that the ripened fruits of the Salam tree contain significant antioxidant properties (useful in preserving food and in preventing cancer).
Common in Burma, Indo-China, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
IMAGES: (Click on the image for larger view)