Till date, there are 17 trees at the Fort Canning Park granted the heritage tree status. Four of them are the terap tree (artocarpus elasticus), with three located along the park’s 14th Century Walk of History (along the Fort Canning Service Reservoir) and the fourth one along Canning Rise, opposite the National Museum of Singapore.
Terap is a tall forest tree that can grow to a height between 45m and 65m. It is commonly found in Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines as well as the forested areas at Borneo and Java islands.
Mature terap trees have leathery and oval-shaped leaves, which look quite different from the deep lobed leaves of the younger ones. Both their fruits and seeds are edible. The terap fruits are large in size, reaching almost 18cm long, and give off a pungent rancid smell when they become ripe. The white pulps wrapping around the seeds, however, are white and creamy and considered a delicacy to some. The seeds taste like tangy marshmallows and are eaten by squirrels and monkeys.
The wood of teraps can be used for timber. They also produce white latex called gutta terap, often used as glue traps for birds. Their barks are tough and fibrous, and are used by the indigenous people for making of clothes, while the Malays also use them for basket lining and rope weaving.
The terap tree is a close relative to the breadfruit tree (artocarpus altilis) and jackfruit tree (artocarpus heterophyllus). The book Wayside Trees of Malaya, authored by John Henry Corner (1906-1996), an English botanist and assistant director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens between 1926 and 1946, mentioned the terap trees at Fort Canning.
Published: 6 May 2022