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Shorea robusta Roth.

Family Name: Dipterocarpaceae
Common Name: Sal
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Fruit & Vegetable Dry Soils / Drought Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial


Native Distribution Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Monsoon Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Shorea robusta  is a large tree 45-50m tall; trunk to 5m dbh (diameter at breast height). However, most trees would normally attain a height of 18-32 m, with a dbh of 1.5-2m. 
Crown The Sal tree has a spreading and spherical crown
Trunk The bark is deeply fissured in younger specimens of  Shorea robusta, but the fissures gradually becomes more shallow as the tree matures. 
Roots This species has a tendency to develop a long and deep tap root even at a very young age. 
Foliage The leaves of the Sal tree are oblong to oval, 10-20cm long by 6-12 cm wide, with 12-14 pairs of lateral veins. 
Flowers The flowers of Shorea robusta are cream- yellow, about 2cm across, and are carried in large and showy clusters. The flowers are pollinated by Thrips (Insects from the order Thysanoptera). 
Fruits The small fruit is oval in shape and measure about 0.8-1 cm in diameter. Each fruit comes with 5 wings that measure 5 - 7.5 cm in length, and  of which 3 are longer than the other 2. 
Habitat Shorea robusta occurs in deciduous (moist or dry) forests and can be found from sea level to about 1,500m. However, it is not common above 1,000m above sea level. It is estimated that the Sal tree makes up some 14% of India's total forested area.  It is likewise dominat in some parts of Nepal.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Seeds)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : In India, the seeds are also cooked into a porridge with other ingredients. The seeds are also ground into a coarse flour to make bread, and oil from the seeds of the Sal tree is also extracted commercially and used as a substitute for cocoa butter.  The 'Seed butter' is also used in cooking, and the plant itself is also consumed, but only as faine food. )
Timber & Products ( In India and parts of Nepal, Shorea robusta is the predominant hardwood species that is used in construction, where it is used in the building of houses, ships, railway cars, as well as in hydraulic engineering. The wood is highly resistant to termites, and very durable.)
Agriculture - Forestry ( Shorea robusta has been grown alongside with Tectona grandis (Teak) in mixed plantations, with good results.)
[Others]: The leaves of Shorea robusta  are also harvested to make hats, as well as lacquered plates and bowls. The  leaves are also used as cattle fodder. 

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Form
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Dry Soils / Drought, Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Ant, Beetle, Fly, Thrip, Wasp), )
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Water)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Planting Remarks This species does best in a moist but  well drained, sandy-loam based mix. It does not tolerate waterlogged soils and heavy clay soils. 
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Deciduous, Drought / Semi-Deciduous
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliage Retention Remarks This species is fully deciduous when cultivated in climates with a long and distinct dry season, 

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown

Image Repository



Master ID 32312
Species ID 6720
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: 11 November 2021.