Tonle Sap Authority discovers 196 new plants around Tonle Sap Lake, one special species

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The scenery at Kampong Phluk commune in Siem Reap province on June 20. Officials recently discovered 196 new plants including a special tree species known by its scientific name Barringtonia acutangula. Tonle Sap Authority

A large variety of plants from the Tonle Sap Lake area have been discovered by officials from the Tonle Sap Authority (TSA), but one tree in particular has revealed that it provides many benefits, according to TSA secretary-general Tony Hell on June 21.

Hell said officials have discovered and documented a total of 196 plants in the area for research.

“The Tonle Sap Authority is the national research and coordination institution, so we have to do this research to see how many flooded forest plants there are. We have to thoroughly research and document them,” he said.

Hell added that on June 20, TSA released preliminary information about one tree known by its scientific name Barringtonia acutangula, highlighting some special features.

“We researched the plant and compiled a document. But we did not post all the plants on Facebook. We only posted this kind. Besides, we have made a book for researchers,” he said.

According to TSA’s Facebook page on June 20, the tree is a kind of flooded forest species from the order Ericales and belongs to the Lecythidaceae family.

“In biology, Barringtonia acutangula is 5-25m high. It grows around the Tonle Sap Lake and tends to grow in thick growth in the Kampong Phluk and Kampong Khleang areas of Siem Reap province. The tree grows in water during the wet season,” it said.

The tree has many benefits and TSA said it provided shelter for animals, especially to water birds and spawning fish.

“The green leaves of the tree can be eaten and its bark is used for medicinal purposes such as the treatment of malaria, diarrhoea and syphilis. Its fruit can be fried and crushed then applied to teeth and gums to prevent tooth decay. The trunk can be used as a millstone, firewood and coal,” TSA said.

Kampong Phluk commune chief Sok Plonk said on June 21 that there were many trees in the area. The authority, fishing communities and residents are preserving them because they are important for people’s livelihoods such as income from tourists.

“Barringtonia acutangula is favourable to natural tourism for Kampong Phluk villagers who take tourists on boat rides to view under the trees. The trees are also a source of income from fishing. But recently, due to Covid-19, the Kampong Phluk area is a bit quiet because there are not many tourists,” he said.