Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Natural Phenomenon: Crown Shyness in FRIM

 View upwards to the crown of the trees... the foliage.

When I first saw this picture, I was in awe. It looked so beautiful. Then my colleague told me that the tree would not grow and overlap each other. It will stop-short and you can see the openings like cracks on the ground. This only happens with the same kind of species i.e. lodgepole pine trees. It is called "Crown shyness".

What is crown shyness?
Crown shyness is the empty space between crowns in fully stocked stands that is not related to tree-fall gaps. The tree crowns have a tendency to "shy away" from each other, leaving gaps of a few inches to a few feet. These gaps are an important feature of some canopy's structure - particularly in monospecific and even-height stands. They act as a source of sunflecks for understory species, as a barrier to animal movement, and as a vent for heat and gas exchange between canopy and atmosphere. (description googled from here)

In fact, we can see the same phenomenon right here in Malaysia in our very own FRIM (Forest Research Institute of Malaysia) in Kepong, Selangor.

Image from FRIM website

Exerpt from their website:
Of particular interest is the "puzzle-like" pattern of the individual tree crowns separated by gaps and outlined against the sky. This phenomenon is called "Crown Shyness". The reason for its name is because the leaf tips of the Dryobalanops aromatica appear to be shy towards their own kind, hence forming the gap. This tree is also known as kapur tree and has a nice-smelling exudate known as camphor, one of the main component of making ointment. The ointment is used for stomach massages after child delivery.

Why was my colleague interested in this? Well, she was researching patterns for the facade of the building she is designing. If the client can afford/ willing to spend the money on this pattern, I can't wait to see it!

In the meantime, perhaps I shall take the time to go to FRIM again to catch a glimpse of this with my very own eyes! (And hope I can finally experience the canopy walk which I missed the last time) Why must you try it? It's 30m above sea level and imagine the greenery you will see. It's the natural version of walking along the skybridge in KLCC Petronas Twin Towers!

Forest Research Institute Malaysia
52109 Selangor Darul Ehsan,
Tel : +603 6279 7000

Operating Hours and Fees
The operating hours of the park is from 8:00am to 6:00pm daily.
However, take note that the canopy walkway operating hours is from 9:30am to 2:30pm.
(If not you will be like me who went after 2.30pm hoping to experience the canopy walk!! Sob.. after that long ride, what a pity)

If you are driving, the entrance fee to the park is RM5/car else the fee charged is RM1/person.


SL said...

I had seen the real thing before, in FRIM, many years ago. They said the edges of the leaves release some chemicals that make them repel the leaves of another tree. You should take the canopy walk some day.

PiggiYing said...

my colleague told me it only works with the same kind of tree species... if other kind, it'll overlap? haven't google more about it yet.. lol