Climate influences mass flowering phenomenon in M'sia, says FRIM study

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Prolonged drought and minimum daily temperatures are factors that trigger intermittent mass flowering in the country, says a Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) study.

FRIM director-general Dr Ismail Parlan said the institute's field research station in the Pasoh Forest Reserve in Negri Sembilan has been studying flowering cycles since 2001 under a seed and seedling distribution monitoring project.

He said the study was carried out in collaboration with the Smithsonian Forest Global Earth Observatory in the United States and National Dong Hwa University in Taiwan.

"The study showed the phenomenon occurred irregularly, between one to 10 years, and was recorded in 2002, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2019.

"There is a hypothesis that the phenomenon is a strategy by the plants to maximise the survival rate of seedlings,” Ismail said.

He added that trees bloom abundantly at irregular intervals of two to 10 years, but the flowering cycle of dipterocarps is five to seven years.

Ismail said profuse blooming in South-East Asia led to over 80% of the canopy being covered in fruit and over 50% for a mature tree that may flower over three or four months.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Fauzi Mohd Shariff, the manager of the FRIM field research station in Mata Ayer, Perlis, said that in February 2017 mass flowering occurred among the Shorea roxburghii (a dipterocarp species) in northern Kedah and Dipterocarpus rigidus seeds were collected.

Aside from this, the Parashorea sp (dipterocarp species) at the Chalok Forestry Training Centre, Terengganu, bore a lot of fruit and seeds were collected in April for germination at Mata Ayer.

This year, mass flowering was followed by mass fruiting for 50% to 60% of the dipterocarps at the FRIM campus in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, and the seeds were collected by FRIM’s Seed Technology Laboratory for cultivation.

FRIM’s research into the phenomenon was presented at the second Greening Malaysia Campaign webinar series themed "Mass Flowering of the Malaysian Rainforest: Capitalising on the Event for Mass Production of Planting Materials" on July 30.

Co-organised with the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry and The Habitat Foundation, the webinar series saw the participation of almost 1,200 people from countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan and Australia, and was followed by 3,058 people on Facebook Live. - Bernama

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