Scientists Find, Climb and Describe the Worlds Tallest Tropical Tree

A group of scientists from the United Kingdom and Malaysia has found what is now considered the world’s tallest tropical tree, as well as the tallest flowering plant, measuring more than one hundred meters in height. The massive tree was discovered in the lush forests of Borneo.

As noted by the University of Oxford, if laid down, the tree would cover an entire football pitch from goal to goal.

The tree is a Shorea faguetiana (common name Yellow Meranti), of the Dipterocarpacae family that dominates the lowland rain forests of Southeast Asia. Scientists say that previous record-holding trees largely come from the same genre (Shorea) and region.

Bottom view of the tree. Image Credit: Unding Jami.

The team has given the tree the name Menara, which means ‘tower’ in Malay.

According to reports, ‘Menara’ was first spotted by researchers from the University of Nottingham led by Dr. Doreen Boyd in 2018, using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology, where scientists reflect laser pulses from the deck and the ground surface.

An aerial view of the tallest tropical tree in the world called Manara. Image Credit: Alexander Shenkin.
An aerial view of the tallest tropical tree in the world called Manara. Image Credit: Alexander Shenkin.

A local climber, Unding Jami of the Southeast Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) in Sabah, Malaysia, climbed the tree in January 2019 to measure its height; he reached a height of 100.8 meters, which makes it the highest flowering plant on Earth (surpassing the previous record holder: a eucalyptus tree in Tasmania).

“It was a scary climb, so windy because the nearest trees are very distant. But honestly, the view from the top was incredible. I don’t know what to say other than it was very, very, very amazing!” revealed Jami.

“By following up the discovery of the tree by my Ph.D. student, Chris Chandler in the airborne data, with a terrestrial laser scan and drone flight by colleagues at University of Oxford, we were able to establish additional dimensional information about the tree, and to examine the mechanics of such giant trees in general,” revealed Dr. Doreen Boyd.

As noted by the Oxford University, excluding its roots, Manara weighs 81,500 kilograms or more than the maximum takeoff weight of a Boeing 737-800. Only 5% of its mass is held in its 40m-wide crown, whereas 95% is in its trunk.

University of Oxford
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