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Koompassia excelsa


Koompassia excelsa (Becc.) Taub.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Koompassia parvifolia
Common Name: Honey Bee Tree, Tualang, Sialang, Menggaris, Kayu Raja, Tapang, Tualang Bee Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 45 m to 80 m
Tree or Palm – Trunk Diameter 2 m


Native Distribution Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Leguminous emergent forest tree, one of the tallest tropical tree species, measuring up to 80-90m height.
Crown Dome-like or mushroom-like, with delicate bright to pale green foliage and gnarled branching.
Trunk Huge (up to 2m across), columnar, with smooth greyish bark, branching at only around 30m from ground, supported by large root buttresses at base.
Foliage Leaves light green, pinnately-compound with small alternate leaflets and terminal leaflet. Species is drought-deciduous once yearly, between Feburary and June, during which crown becomes bare for a few weeks.
Flowers Very small, 5 petals, clustered in terminal panicles. Produced at 5-6 year intervals, after formation of new leaves subsequent to shedding of old ones. Blooming observed to coincide with Dipterocarp species in forest.
Fruit Thin flat papery pods, twisted near base, with broad wing around margin, ripening to brown, non-dehiscent, containing 1 flat seed.
Habitat Lowland primary rainforest, mainly at moist locations along rivers, in valleys and lower slopes of hills, restricted to north of Selangor and Pahang (Kuala Lumpur-Kuantan latitude) on Peninsular Malaysia.
Associated Fauna Tree's trunk said to be too slippery for Helarctos malayanus (Malayan Sun Bear) to climb, hence species is preferred host for Apis dorsata (Asian Giant Honey Bee) to build their massive honeycombs. Leaves eaten by Trachypithecus obscurus (Dusky Leaf Monkey) during dry season.
Cultivation Prefrers moist but well-drained soils. Sap may cause skin irritation and rash in certain individuals. Protect from lightning strikes and open fires, as species is highly-flammable (especially when alive). Propagate by seeds or stem cuttings.
Etymology Genus epithet Koompassia derived from Kempas, local vernacular name for members of this genus. Species epithet excelsa means 'tall', a reference to the tree's mature height. Malay name Tualang means 'tree of swarming bees'.
Ethnobotanical Uses Others: Aviculture: Host tree for Apis dorsata (Giant Asian Honey Bee), which hangs its large parabolic combs from the tree's horizontal branches, and whose honey are harvested by the local people. Timber: Not a traditional commercial hardwood, as high-silica timber is not only very hard and difficult to cut, but also brittle and splinters easily when sawn. Also indirectly protected from logging by its association with honey, which is worth more than the timber itself. But due to decline of other hardwood timber species, the trees have been harvested more frequently in recent times for its timber, which is sold as Mangaris wood, and can be used for tool handles, railway sleepers and flooring. Buttress wood said to be good for dining tables. Culture: Harvests of wild honey associated with various local myths and religious rituals. Malays and Orang Asli also believe that the trees are haunted.

Landscaping Features

Landscape Uses General
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden
Plant & Rootzone Preference or Tolerance Remarks Clay soils

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Poor Infertile Soils, Acidic (low pH) Soils
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting, Air-Layering


Foliage Retention Drought / Semi-Deciduous
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Type Compound (Even-Pinnate)
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Cuspidate
Foliar Base Rounded / Obtuse
Typical Foliar Area Microphyll ( 2.25cm2 - 20.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Bark Colour(s) Grey
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Inflorescence Type Panicle
Flowering Habit Polycarpic
Flowering Period Remarks At intervals of 5-6 years

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Indehiscent Dry Fruit , Samara

Image Repository



Master ID 1690
Species ID 2983
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 26 August 2021.