Forest & Flora

Being a former estate, the bulk of Bukit Kiara’s biomass comprises the Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), the progeny of seeds smuggled out of the Amazon and introduced to Malaya in the late 1800s, in the nick of time to drive the economy of British Malaya on the wave of the Second Industrial Revolution.

Not all of the hill was entirely cleared for rubber though. Patches of the original vegetation were spared, at the unplantable areas along the steepest slopes, rocky ground and streams. With the discontinuation of weeding following the transformation of the rubber estate to a Federal Park, some of the original species have begun to reclaim the hill, capitalizing on the gaps created when old rubber trees fall — the start of a long, slow process of natural forest regeneration.

The original forest species vie for space with the rubber tree saplings, plus a handful of fast-growing pioneer species (both native and non-native). The pioneers usually prevail at the open spaces and forest edges, as they are fast-growing and able to tolerate harsh microclimate conditions. The Mahang (Macaranga spp.), a small tree with distinctively large leaves, is the main pioneer tree at Bukit Kiara, and several species are present.

The Burflower tree or Kelempayan (Neolamarckia cadamba) that is common along the forest edges produces beautiful scented flowers. This tall, fast-growing member of the coffee (Rubiaceae) family is one of nine species selected by the Malaysian government for its forest plantation programme.
The Tapak Harimau (Trevesia burckii), an understorey tree with unusual leaves, can be found along the trails. Pictured is a leaf with 8 leaflets (the leaves usually have an odd number of leaflets).
The famous Catʼs Eye Bamboo of Bukit Kiara has been identified as the Schizostachyum jaculans; one of two Malayan bamboo species that the indigenous Orang Asli communities of Peninsular Malaysia utilize to make blowpipes. As this bamboo is only found near settlements and not in true old-growth forest, its presence indicates that there may have been an indigenous settlement at Bukit Kiara in the past
The towering Batai, or Moluccan Albizzia (Falcataria moluccana) with its distinctive flat-topped crown and feathery leaves is one of, if not the fastest-growing tree in the tropics. Originating from the Moluccas, this species is considered to be naturalized in Malaysia, but also invasive, as it can colonize entire open areas if given the chance. Its high branches make an excellent vantage point for raptors.
Sunlight dappling through the low canopy of the Elephantʼs Ear Mahang (Macaranga gigantea). These trees are a hive of activity when fruiting, as their fruits are much loved by frugivorous birds and squirrels. Other species of Mahang are often crawling with ants, which live within their hollow twigs.