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The Story of the Humble Simpur

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1 The Story of the Humble Simpur
Prepared by: Amalina F. Abu Bakar

2 Simpur (Dillenia) Kingdom: Plantae (all plants)
Division: Angiospermae (flowering plants) Class: Dicotyledonae (dicotyledons) Order: Guttiferales (dipterocarps & others) Family: Dilleniaceae (mempelas & simpur) Genus: Dillenia (simpur)

3 What is Simpur? Flowering plants of around 100 species.
Also known as Simpoh or Simpor. Consists of trees and shrubs which are evergreen or semi-evergreen. Can grow in various habitats. Simple and spirally arranged leaves. Insect-pollinated: Bees and beetles collect the pollen. Leaves and flowers often eaten by deer. Flowers: Petals are usually transparent yellow and conspicuous. Stamens in the middle of the flower. The appearance is similar to Magnolia flowers.

4 Among the species of Simpur
D. alata D. grandifolia D. pulchella D. beccariana D. indica D. reticulata D. borneensis D. ingens D. serrata D. cauliflora D. magnoliifolia D. suffruticosa D. crenatifolia D. ovata D. sumatrana D. excelsa D. philippinensis D. fischeri D. ptempoda

5 The habitat of Simpur Native to tropical and subtropical regions of southern Asia, Australasia and the islands of the Indian Ocean. Can be found on swampy areas, lowland inland forests, wastelands, eroded soil, white sand areas and in secondary growth. Around 9 species can be found in Brunei.

6 Maps of southern Asia, Australasia and Indian Ocean
Islands of Indian Ocean

7 The Species of Simpur in Brunei
Common name D. beccariana River Simpur D. borneensis Ubah rusa D. excelsa Simpur Ungu, Simpur Laki D. grandifolia Simpur Daun Merah D. indica - D. reticulata Simpur Gajah D. pulchella Simpur Paya D. suffruticosa Simpur Air, Simpur Bini D. sumatrana Simpur Laki

8 Distribution of Simpur in Brunei
Species Location D. beccariana Borneo endemic. Common on clay slopes in lower Temburong and Batu Apoi valleys. In Ulu Tutong and Tasek Merimbun. D. borneensis Rare in Brunei. On clay soils in mixed dipterocarp forests at Temburong. D. excelsa Throughout Brunei. In moist valleys and lower slopes. D. grandifolia Uncommon in Brunei. In Ulu Ingei and Andulau Forest Reserve. Belait, Kuala Belalong and Amo. D. indica Not native to Brunei. Only cultivated. D. reticulata On sandy soils in floodplains in Andulau Forest Rerserve and Ulu Belait D. pulchella Mixed peat swamp forests, swampy kerangas, near the coast. D. suffruticosa On degraded land, river banks, open place, downriver and poor soils. D. sumatrana Common in Brunei. In lowland mixed dipterocarp forest, on leached sandy, sandy soils in Belait and Tutong.

9 Map of Brunei Tutong Temburong Belait

10 The Flowers of Simpur Solitary, or in terminal racemes.
Flowers have five sepals and five petals. Numerous stamens and a cluster of 5-20 carpels. Flowers of different species are not similar. No scent and no nectar. racemes

11 The Flowers of Simpur Blooms from 3-4 years of age.
Lifespan of years. Flower buds face down. Bud become swelling and turns yellow. Flowers open one at a time.

12 The Flowers of Simpur Flowers open at 3 am the next day.
By 4 pm, the petals start to drop off. The sepals fold back on the young fruit. Flowers stalks rotates from pointing down to pointing up slowly.

13 The Life-cycle of Simpur
Flower Fruit bud Ripe fruit Plant Flower bud

14 The Flowers of Simpur D. alata D. albifos

15 The Flowers of Simpur D. excelsa

16 The Flowers of Simpur D. beccariana D. indica

17 The Flowers of Simpur D. philippinesis D. reticulata

18 The Flowers of Simpur D. suffruticosa D. sumatrana

19 The Fruits of Simpur Fruit buds face upwards.
Unopened fruits: Surrounded by red sepals which are thick. Fruits: Take five weeks to set. Ripe fruits open at 3 am. Fruit: Star-shaped when splits open, exposing the seeds. Empty husk of the fruits falls off at 8 am the next day.

20 The Fruits of Simpur Almost all of the dehiscent fruits are covered by the red aril (soft red membrane). D. indica have soft white membrane covering its seeds. D. ovata and D. reticulata has ex-arillate seeds. 

21 The Fruits of Simpur D. alata D. indica

22 The Fruits of Simpur D. beccariana (fruit bud)
D. beccariana (ripe fruit)

23 The Fruits of Simpur D. excelsa

24 The Fruits of Simpur D. ingens D. ovata

25 The Fruits of Simpur D. philippinensis D. serrata

26 The Fruits of Simpur Evergreen shrubs. Can grow up to 10 meters.
Leaves: Broad and oval with slight toothed edge. D. suffruticosa

27 The Uses of Simpur Leaves are used to wrap food such as tempeh (fermented soya bean cakes), nasi lemak and tapai (fermented rice). Rolled into shallow cones to contain traditional food rojak. Mature and old leaves contain deposit of silica – used as sandpaper. Tapai

28 The Uses of Simpur As an indicator of water source (D. suffruticosa) – the tap roots can reach underground water source. As traditional medicine to staunch bleeding wounds (young shoots). Fruit pulp use to wash hair. Leaves are used by birds as nest. D. suffuticosa provides shades for young plants.

29 Additional Information about Simpur
National flower of Brunei. Drawn in Brunei art as ‘Ayer Muleh’. Used as the logo of APEC 2000 held in Brunei. Depicted on the front side of Brunei one-dollar note. Brunei one-dollar note APEC 2000 logo “Ayer Muleh’ design

30 References Dr. S Idris M. Said. (2000). Bunga Simpor. Available at: (Retrieved on 5th September 2011) Earl of Cranbrook, Edwards, D.S. (1994). Belalong: A Tropical Rainforest. The Royal Geographical Society, United Kingdom and Sun Tree Publishing, Singapore. Tan, R., (2001). Simpoh Air. Available at: The Total Vascular Flora of Singapore Online (2010). Dillenia suffruticosa. Available at:

31 References Wikipedia, (2011). Dillenia. Available at: (Retrieved on 5th September 2011) Wikipedia, (2011). Dilleni suffruticosa. Available at: Wild Singapore, (2008). Simpoh Air. Available at: Yunos, R. (2009). Brunei’s National Flower? Available at:

32 Acknowledgement This project is done under the guidance of Dr. Leong YP of UBD. Photos are taken at Kampong Rimba in Brunei-Muara, Kampong Danau and Kampong Kiudang in Tutong. Special thanks to Lee KH for some of the photos. And for those who involved directly or indirectly.

33 Prepared by: Amalina Fadilah Hj. Abu Bakar B. Ed. General Science Universiti Brunei Darussalam 2011

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