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Dipterocarpus alatus - Roxb. ex G.Don

Common Name Apitong, baume de gurjun, gurjun balsam
Family Dipterocarpaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The dust of the wood causes boils[ 303 ].
Habitats A canopy tree that occurs gregariously along river banks, and in mixed dipterocarp forest[ 338 ]. Native to both evergreen and dry deciduous forests[ 303 ].
Range E. Asia - Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Dipterocarpus alatus Apitong, baume de gurjun, gurjun balsam

Dipterocarpus alatus Apitong, baume de gurjun, gurjun balsam


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Dipterocarpus alatus or commonly known as Apitong is a tropical forest tree that can be found in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It is medium-sized of about 40 m in height with an umbrella-shaped canopy and a tall, straight, cylindrical trunk that can be up to 150 cm in diameter. Considered as an endangered species, the tree produces a highly valued wood in construction and oily resin. The trunk yields resin that can be used in analgesic liniments or as an antiseptic in bandages on ulcerated wood (when mixed with bee wax). It can also be used for illumination and waterproofing baskets and bots, for paint, as varnish, and in printing ink industries. The bark can be used against rheumatism and liver diseases. The plant also yields essential oil used in perfumery. The wood is hard, fine-grained, but not very durable.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Dipterocarpus alatus is an evergreen Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Dipterocarpus gonopterus Turcz. Dipterocarpus incanus Roxb. Dipterocarpus lemeslei Vesque Dipterocar

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Analgesic  Antirheumatic  Antiseptic  Disinfectant  Diuretic  Hepatic  Laxative  Stimulant

The resin obtained from the trunk is disinfectant, laxative, diuretic, mildly stimulant. It is used in analgesic liniments and can be mixed with bee wax then used as an antiseptic in bandages on ulcerated wounds[ 404 ]. The bark of the young tree, provided with 2 - 4 leaves, is believed to have medicinal virtues against rheumatism and diseases of the liver[ 404 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Containers  Cosmetic  Disinfectant  Essential  Fuel  Furniture  Ink  Lighting  Paint  Pioneer  Resin  Soil conditioner  Varnish  Waterproofing  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: The tree is a rapid colonizer of alluvial soils along the sides of rivers - it is used as a pioneer in forestry planting schemes to restore wasteland and establish woodlands[ 303 , 320 ]. The tree is used as a soil improver[ 303 ]. The organic matter and NPK content of soils under the tree canopy have been shown to be higher than in soils further away from the tree[ 303 ]. The tree is commonly intercropped with fruit trees[ 404 ]. Other Uses: An oleoresin is obtained by tapping the tree[ 303 ]. Yields are good, but the resin is rather thin[ 146 , 439 ]. It is used by indigenous people for illumination and waterproofing baskets and boats[ 303 , 325 ]. Industrially, it is used for (zinc-based) paint; printing ink industries; varnish for walls and furniture; and lacquer; it can even be used as a fuel in diesel engines[ 303 , 404 ]. The resin is obtained by cutting a hole in the trunk near the base (about 90 - 150cm from the ground) and then dipping out the resin with a spoon as it collects there. To prolong the flow, a fire made from dead leaves or brushwood is made in the hole at intervals - this burns off the dried resinous film and allows the resin to flow again[ 64 , 146 ]. An essential oil, called yaang oil, is obtained from the plant. It is used as a fixative in perfumes[ 303 ]. The heartwood is reddish-gray; the sapwood white[ 146 ]. The wood is rather hard, fine-grained, easy to saw and polish[ 598 ]. It is not very durable in contact with the ground[ 418 ]. One of the most important commercial timber species, next to teak, in Thailand[ 303 ]. The wood is used for construction, railway sleepers, boats, pulp and a number of other purposes[ 325 , 598 ]. Because of its resinous nature, it is less suitable for flooring or being exposed to the sun[ 418 ]. The wood is used for fuel and to make charcoal[ 404 , 418 ]. The tree is an important source of keruing timber. In addition to the information above, a general description of keruing timber is as follows:- The heartwood is light red to red brown or purplish red brown; it is clearly demarcated from the 5 - 7cm wide band of sapwood. The texture is coarse; the grain straight or interlocked. The wood is moderately heavy to heavy; moderately hard; somewhat durable, being resistant to dry wood borers, fairly resistant to fungi but susceptible to termites. It seasons slowly, with a high risk of checking and distortion; once dry it is poorly stable to moderately stable in service. It has a high blunting effect on tools due to the presence of silica, stellite-tipped and tungsten carbide tools are recommended; some species are very resinous and can clog tools; there is occasional tearing on quartersawn wood; nailing and screwing are good, but require pre-boring; gluing is correct, but care is required because of the resin. A general construction timber, it is used in carpentry, panelling, joinery, floors, timber frame houses, boxes and crates, veneer etc[ 848 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Management: Standard  Wild Crop

A plant of the lowland tropics where it is found at elevations up to 500 metres[ 303 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 32°c, though it can tolerate 10 - 36°c[ 418 ]. It can be killed at temperatures of 5°c[ 418 ]. According to one report, it prefers a mean annual rainfall of 1,100 - 2,200mm, uniformly spread through the year[ 325 ]. Another report says it has a preferred rainfall of 3,500 - 4,500mm, but can tolerate 3,000 - 5,200mm[ 418 ]. The plant, especially when young, is very tolerant to shade and seedlings can survive under heavy shade for years[ 325 ]. As trees grow older, they become more light-demanding[ 598 ]. Found mainly on alluvial soils in the wild[ 303 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.5 - 7[ 418 ]. Members of this genus generally only regenerate naturally in the shade of the forest. Seedlings and saplings can persist in dense forest shade for many years. In their first 2 years the young plants cannot tolerate major openings in the canopy, but after they are well established (about 120cm tall) the canopy can be opened up around them to speed up their growth[ 404 ]. Annual production of oleoresin per tapped tree is between 23 and 31 litres[ 303 ]. Trees have a thin bark and are very sensitive to damage by fire[ 325 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Materials, chemicals and energy include bioplastics, rubber, biomass products gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, butane, propane, biogas. Plants are usually resprouting plants and saps.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Wild Crop  Some wild plants have strong historical or contemporary use. Although they are not cultivated crops, they may be wild-managed.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it has a short viability and so should be sown as soon as it is ripe[ 325 ]. No pre-treatment is required. Sow the seeds in a nursery seedbed, germination usually commences within 4 - 7 days at 25°c[ 303 , 325 ]. Seedlings are ready to plant out when they are 30cm tall, which takes about 8 - 12 months[ 325 ]. Seed storage behaviour is intermediate, the lowest safe moisture content is 17 %, no seeds survive further desiccation to 8 % moisture content[ 303 ]. At 12 % moisture content, only 36 % germination occurred after 939 days hermetic storage at -18°c compared to 80 % viability before storage[ 303 ]. Cuttings taken from coppice shoots produced after hedging rooted successfully with 44.5% rooting, indicating the potential for mass production of rooted cuttings from hedge orchards[ 303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

baume de gurjun, gurjun balsam, hairy-leaf apitong

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Bangladesh; Cambodia; India; Myanmar; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Viet Nam; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Endangered A1cd+2cd, B1+2c

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Dipterocarpus gracilisTagalog: PanaoTree50.0 10-12 MMHSNM013
Dipterocarpus grandiflorusApitongTree40.0 10-12 SMHSNM003
Dipterocarpus kerriiKerr's KeruingTree40.0 10-12 MMHSNM023

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Roxb. ex G.Don

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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