Making a Scented-Shelter Rest with Hopea odorata at Koh Chang
The Hopea odorata or known in English as the White Thingan is a native tree species in Thailand including Koh Chang but not endemic because this kind of tree is also found in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam. In Koh Chang, the white thingan trees are found mostly along the damp areas where water from falls usually passes through or along streams’ banks. They occur sporadically in pure groups but are not gregarious over large areas. They are known for their shade or shelter and their propagation is for reforestation purposes in reclamation sites.
White Thingans are riparian species which are usually occurred on deep rich soils. Adult Hopea odorata reaches the average height of 45 meters tall and are classified as medium-sized to large evergreen tree with large crown fitting to be considered as shade provider tree species. It flowers and bears fruits almost regularly every two years. The small white and fragrant flowers it bears give Hopea odorata its distinct epithet and they appear between February and April and the fruits ripened at the beginning of the rainy season in May and June. Natural germination happens when the seeds are dispersed by wind on the ground. Seeds take in 1-4 weeks to germinate. The germination rate of seeds has been found to be 73% in un-shaded beds, 83% in shaded beds and 40% in direct field sowing. Yound seedlings of Hopea odorata are normally protected by shade crop from hot weather or harsh condition and to keep weeds down. Young Hopea odorata plants need full overhead light and the shade crop must be monitored so not to overtop the young plant. Regular weeding and occasional watering are recommended to give the young tree the potential of great survival and robust growth rate.
The wood of Hopea odorata tree though heavy at 755 kg/ cubic meter and difficult to cut by saw, it is nonetheless used for boat building and dug-out canoes. Due to its durability and strength, it is also utilized in construction, carts, presses flooring, fence-posts, furniture, piles, ploughs and others. It is considered as first class sleeper wood.