Mengkundur tree in Bukit Mertajam probably country’s tallest


Trekkers walking along the dam wall at Cherok To’kun Forest Reserve in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

ONE of the biggest and tallest trees in the country — definitely the champ in Penang — is located 15-minutes away at Cherok To’kun Forest Reserve in Bukit Mertajam, on mainland Penang.

The short walk up the hill from the poolside trail entrance will lead to this giant Mengkundur (Tetrameles) tree.

The tree, estimated to be over 80 years old, is so big at its buttress roots it needs about 20 people joining hands to encircle it around it.

But this is not the only rarely seen tree worth hugging in this 37ha forest reserve of over 180 plant species.

Monica Ann standing below the tall Tualang tree.Monica Ann standing below the tall Tualang tree.

A further hike east leads to a Tualang (Koompassia Excelsa) tree within an orchard just outside the forest reserve boundary.

It soars about five storeys high and is estimated to be almost 200 years old.

Apart from its height, the tree is easily distinguishable because of its smooth, white trunk.

(From left) Trekkers Monica Ann @ Siw Eng, 47, her son Michael Woon Jason, 21, and their friend Hairi, 49, exploring the wonders at Bukit Seraya in Bukit Mertajam.(From left) Trekkers Monica Ann @ Siw Eng, 47, her son Michael Woon Jason, 21, and their friend Hairi, 49, exploring the wonders at Bukit Seraya in Bukit Mertajam.

Although it is not within the forest reserve, the story goes that the orchard owner decided to preserve the tree for good luck.

Venturing into the nearby Bukit Seraya, a hill of 430m, adventurous trekkers will find more natural wonders.

One of them is a large Kelat tree (Syzygium) which locals refer to simply as ‘Bonsai’ due to its erratic spread of branches.

Along branches of hiking trails, there are several waterfalls to take a dip in and replenish your vigour.

Woon enjoying the cool waterfalls at Bukit Seraya in Cherok To’kun Forest Reserve, Bukit Mertajam.Woon enjoying the cool waterfalls at Bukit Seraya in Cherok To’kun Forest Reserve, Bukit Mertajam.

The most popular waterfall is Tok Janggut, which flows down along hanging tree roots that resemble a long beard.

Other attractions in Bukit Seraya include a disused British reservoir built in the 1920s.

Although overgrown by vegetation, much of the dam such as its giant arching wall is still intact and holds water, creating a pool of freshwater on the upper side.

Due to the density of the forest, first-time visitors are advised to explore it with aid of experienced guides.

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