The Dipterocarpaceae are a family of 16 genera and about 695 known species[2] of mainly tropical lowland rainforest trees. The family name, from the type genus Dipterocarpus, is derived from Greek (di = two, pteron = wing and karpos = fruit) and refers to the two-winged fruit. The largest genera are Shorea (196 species), Hopea (104 species), Dipterocarpus (70 species), and Vatica (65 species).[3] Many are large forest-emergent species, typically reaching heights of 40–70 m, some even over 80 m (in the genera Dryobalanops,[3] Hopea[4] and Shorea),[4] with the tallest known living specimen (Shorea faguetiana) 93.0 m tall.[4] The species of this family are of major importance in the timber trade. Their distribution is pantropical, from northern South America to Africa, the Seychelles, India, Indochina, Indonesia, and Malaysia.[5] The greatest diversity of Dipterocarpaceae occurs in Borneo.[6] Some species are now endangered as a result of overcutting, extensive illegal logging, and habitat conversion. They provide valuable woods, aromatic essential oils, balsam, and resins, and are a source for plywood.

Dipterocarpus retusus - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-054.jpg
Dipterocarpus retusus
Scientific classification e
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Dipterocarpaceae


The dipterocarp family is generally divided into two subfamilies:

Phylogeny of the Dipterocarpaceae[6]



















  • Dipterocarpoideae: the largest of the subfamilies, it contains 13 genera and about 475 species. Distribution includes the Seychelles, Sri Lanka, India, Southeast Asia to New Guinea, and a large distribution in Borneo, where they form the dominant species in the lowland forests. North Borneo (Brunei, Sabah, and Sarawak) is the richest area in the world for dipterocarp species.[3] The Dipterocarpoideae can be divided morphologically into two groups,[6][7] and the tribe names Shoreae and Dipterocarpeae are sometimes used, but genetic evidence so far does not support this division:[8][9]
    • Valvate - Dipterocarpeae group (Anisoptera, Cotylelobium, Dipterocarpus, Stemonoporus, Upuna, Vateria, Vateriopsis, Vatica). The genera of this group have valvate sepals in fruit, solitary vessels, scattered resin canals, and basic chromosome number x = 11.
    • Imbricate - Shoreae group (Balanocarpus, Hopea, Parashorea, Shorea). The genera of this group have imbricate sepals in fruit, grouped vessels, resin canals in tangential bands, and basic chromosome number x = 7. A recent molecular study suggests that the genus Hopea forms a clade with Shorea sections Anthoshorea and Doona, and should be merged into Shorea.[8]
  • Monotoideae: three genera, 30 species. Marquesia is native to Africa. Monotes has 26 species, distributed across Africa and Madagascar. Pseudomonotes is native to the Colombian Amazon.

A recent genetic study found that the Asian dipterocarps share a common ancestor with the Sarcolaenaceae, a tree family endemic to Madagascar.[10] This suggests that ancestor of the dipterocarps originated in the southern supercontinent of Gondwana, and that the common ancestor of the Asian dipterocarps and the Sarcolaenaceae was found in the India-Madagascar-Seychelles land mass millions of years ago, and were carried northward by India, which later collided with Asia and allowed the dipterocarps to spread across Southeast Asia and Malaysia. The first dipterocarp pollen has been found in Myanmar (which at that time was part of the Indian plate) and it dates from the upper Oligocene.[11] The sample appears to slowly increase in terms of diversity and abundance across the region into the mid-Miocene[11] Chemical traces of dipterocarp resins have been found dating back to the Eocene of India.

Subfamily Pakaraimoideae formerly placed here and native to the Guaianan highlands of South America, is now found to be more closely related the Cistaceae and is placed there in the APG IV (2016)[12]

Fossilized arthropodsEdit

Some 52-million-year-old amber found in the Gujarat province, India, containing a large amount of fossilized arthropods, was identified as sap from the family Dipterocarpaceae.[13]

Dipterocarpaceae fossil displayed at Philippine National Museum.


Dipterocarpaceae species can be either evergreen or deciduous.[14] Species occurring in Thailand grows from sea level to about 1300 m elevation. Environments in which the species of the family occur in Thailand include lowland dipterocarp forest 0–350 m, riparian fringe, limestone hills, and coastal hills.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x.
  2. ^ Christenhusz, M. J. M. & Byng, J. W. (2016). "The number of known plants species in the world and its annual increase". Phytotaxa. 261 (3): 201–217. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.261.3.1.
  3. ^ a b c Ashton, P.S. Dipterocarpaceae. In Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak, Volume 5, 2004. Soepadmo, E., Saw, L. G. and Chung, R. C. K. eds. Government of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. ISBN 983-2181-59-3
  4. ^ a b c "Borneo". Eastern Native Tree Society. Retrieved 2009-04-17.
  5. ^ Simon Gardner, Pindar Sidisunthorn and Lai Ee May, 2011. Heritage Trees of Penang. Penang: Areca Books. ISBN 978-967-57190-6-6
  6. ^ a b c Ashton, P.S. Dipterocarpaceae. Flora Malesiana, 1982 Series I, 92: 237-552
  7. ^ Maury-Lechon, G. and Curtet, L. Biogeography and Evolutionary Systematics of Dipterocarpaceae. In A Review of Dipterocarps: Taxonomy, ecology and silviculture, 1998. Appanah, S. and Turnbull, J. M. eds. Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia. ISBN 979-8764-20-X
  8. ^ a b S Dayanandan; P S Ashton; S M Williams; R B Primack (1999). "Phylogeny of the tropical tree family Dipterocarpaceae based on nucleotide sequences of the chloroplast RBCL gene". American Journal of Botany. 86 (8): 1182–90. doi:10.2307/2656982. JSTOR 2656982. PMID 10449398. Archived from the original on 2016-04-05. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  9. ^ S. Indrioko; O. Gailing; R. Finkeldey (2006). "Molecular phylogeny of Dipterocarpaceae in Indonesia based on chloroplast DNA". Plant Systematics and Evolution. 261 (1–4): 99–115. doi:10.1007/s00606-006-0435-8.
  10. ^ M. Ducousso, G. Béna, C. Bourgeois, B. Buyck, G. Eyssartier, M. Vincelette, R. Rabevohitra, L. Randrihasipara, B. Dreyfus, Y. Prin. The last common ancestor of Sarcolaenaceae and Asian dipterocarp trees was ectomycorrhizal before the India-Madagascar separation, about 88 million years ago. Molecular Ecology 13: 231 January 2004.
  11. ^ a b Morley, R.J. 2000. Origin and Evolution of Tropical Rain Forests. Wiley-Blackwell, NY.
  12. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2016), "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG IV", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161 (2): 105–20, doi:10.1111/boj.12385
  13. ^ Sample, Ian. "Prehistoric creatures discovered in huge Indian amber haul" The Guardian, 25 October 2010. Retrieved: 26 October 2010.
  14. ^ Smitinand, Tem; Santisuk, Thatwatchai (1981). "Dipterocarpaceae of Thailand with Special Reference to Silvicultural Ecology". Malaysian Forester. 44: 377–85.

External linksEdit