Thursday, January 14, 2010

Our street names

When I became a member of the MNS (Malaysian Nature Society) some 17 years ago, on our way to an MNS outing, my MNS friend, affectionately called Uncle Foo, pointed to a road sign Jalan Beringin. ' Do you know beringin is the name of a tree? And there's more .' He proceeded to point out more names of trees as we drove along.

Uncle Foo is never short of stories or knowledge about nature , be it about birds ( an avid bird-watcher himself) or passing on general information. He taught me how to view through a pair of binoculars and I bought my first with his help. He shares whenever he can.

He brought my attention to the roads in Bukit Bandaraya , Bangsar Baru and Damansara Heights since he used to live there. The streets in these neighbourhoods abound with examples of tree themes.

How often do we just address an envelope and not give any thought to names. In some towns, street names follow the type of activity of the area like Jalan Masjid (mosque), Jalan Makhamah (court house), Jalan Panggung (cinema) , Jalan Hospital.

Thematic street names are also quite commonly named after prominent people . For example in the suburb of Taman Tun Dr Ismail names like like Athinappan, Leong Yew Kow, Tun Mohd Fuad, Burhanuddin Helmi, Abang Hj. Openg. These personalities are honoured for the services they rendered to the country. In some neighbourhoods the streets have flowers, colours etc as their themes.

Here's my jaunt around Bukit Bandaraya and Damansara Heights to highlight some tree street names. I had some fun and game, so to speak, clicking my camera on the street names. Just when I thought all was clear on the road and safe to stand back a little for the picture, around the corner zoomed vehicles. Then I thought , if only my friends could see me now - a 'zombie' zooming from road to road and clicking on oblong road signs! At several spots I had to park and walk to the junctions where the street signs are positioned.

Beringin ( ficus benjamina) is a specie of the fig tree which is native to South and South East Asia. One can never fail to see aerial roots descend from the branches to the ground and these form secondary trunks. The beringin has an invasive root system and the bark is is pale grey with large dark green leaves. It bears round, red berries.

Keruing ( dipterocarpus sp. ) is a medium hardwood and a dominant specie of the lowland primary forest. It is widely grown in the Indo- Malaysian region. It reaches up to a height of 45 metre. The tree is grown for its timber to make furniture, flooring and decking beams. The Orang Asli make jungle torch using the resin of the keruing tree.

Tualang ( Koompassia excelsa) or colloquially known as the honey bee tree, is a majestic emergent tree of South East Asia rainforest . It is one of the tallest tropical tree species and is a member of the legume family and related to peas . Huge buttress roots support its weight. Very often, large combs of wild bees are found on the branches.

Penaga ( Calopyyhllum inophyllum) is a slow - growing, beautiful tree with fragrant flowers. It is found in non -swampy , sandy beaches and rocky shores.

The picture was taken at the MNS Headquarters, Jalan Kelantan. The jelutong tree is part of the Nature Trail.

Jelutong (Dyera costulata), a hardwood tree with an unbuttressed trunk grows to 60 -80 metre tall in the tropical rainforest. Its straight grain, low density and fine texture properties are popular with model makers. Its roots are used as a cork substitute . Previously it was an important source of chewing gum.

Here are a few more street names as you drive along Bangsar Baru/ Bukit Bandaraya .Do look out for the names. Mind the traffic though!

bangkung ( Artocarous integer)

jejawi ( Ficus microcarpa)

tempinis (Streblus elongatus)

turi ( Sesbania grandiflora)

Many a tree is found in the wood
And every tree for its use is good
Some for the strength of the gnarled root
Some for the sweetness of flowers or fruit
-Henry Van Dyke ( 'Salute The Trees')


  1. Hi

    What a fascinating & informative post interspersed with nice shots of various signboards & trees. Made very interesting reading and I really enjoyed this.


  2. WOW!! I learned so much from your post today but then again, every visit to your blog is educational!!!

  3. I think that is a good way of naming the streets. I learn the malay names of birds and animals from the streets around my town too.

  4. This is so interesting and so informative. It makes me feel nostalgic and wishful though. Try explaining to your children what SS, PJS, PJU, BRP, stroke this stroke that mean.

  5. Hi
    R. Ramakrishnan, great to hear from you! there certainly is plenty of interesting facts on street names.

    Veronica Lee, I guess if we take our kids round the neighbourhood, there's much to find out! How we often take things for granted. So I say, be inquistive:))

    Autumn Belle, you can do a post on your street names too. That will be most welcome:)

    BLOGitse, thanks for popping in.

    Ocean Girl, I agree with you. SS, PJS, PJU, BRP confounds our imagination!!! Not only that - the names of schools are so sterile too:(

  6. Great post on the 'kayu'[wood] street names. Thanks.

  7. Hi Bananaz, thanks! so much to know from street names:)

  8. Got any "Jalan Kayu" in KL? haha. All the while thought Jelutong belongs to the 'soft wood' category. Thanks for correcting my thoughts. Used to stay in Penang with road name 'Lorong Jelutong'.

  9. I am such a sucker for signs. I love this post. Such a cool neighborhood.

  10. Hi
    CheaHS@n, If there is one 'Jalan Kayu', it will certainly stick in my head!! So easy to remember. LOL . Hurray for Lorong Jelutong in Penang!

    Rosey Pollen, thanks! I wonder what's the preference for street names where you live?

  11. perfect photos and sharing,best wishes.

  12. beautiful photos,
    elegant names,
    thank you for sharing WORDS of WISDOM! :)

  13. Hi
    ilhami Uyar, thanks for your comment. Do come again!

    Ji, welcome to my blog:) glad you found bits to enjoy. have a good day.

  14. Streetnames
    great idea and interesting :-)

    Have a relaxing sunday (@^.^@)

  15. Hello from Seattle Washington, and thanks for showing us the street names!

  16. Hi
    Anya, yeah, now I know my streets. LOL!

    Gran, the odd occasions, I ask the friendly postman where a certain street is. Now that we have a GPS, it is very useful.

  17. Awesome post as usual, Keats! Darn, this should have gone into the Blog4FT contest! My favourite indigenous tree is the Tualang because it is so tall and majestic and uncomplicated. What's your favourite local tree?

  18. It's good to learn something at the start of a work-week. ^_^

  19. Hi
    ~Covert_Operations'78~, I love majestic trees too. So count me in for the tualang. I saw a programme featuring aspects of malaysia on Astro for the merdeka celebrations and the tualang was talked about with the bees. Forgotten the title of the programme but it was good! Would you know which I'm talking about??

    Shingo T, we share the learning journey:)

  20. Sigh, no Jalan Durian lah! I love durians, imagine a road with lots of durian trees! LOL!

  21. This is so nice to know the tree names in different language Keats. You have such patience to share it with us. Thanks for the visit and Happy new year!

  22. So interesting! I learned a lot in this post - and felt like going back to KL!

  23. I must admit I never give these street names a second thought! But now thanks to your informative post, I realise how much we can learn from those names! : )

  24. Hi
    Pete, good to hear from you! Who knows! Jalan Durian MUST be somewhere in the country!! let's follow our noses and smell it out !

    Pacey, Nice to have you dropping by:) Hope you're doing well. Yeah, it's easier to have it in malay and not the botanical names!!!

    Laura in Paris, Good to know the feelings of a friend of KL!! Do visit us again.

    foongpc, thanks! nice to share too.

  25. What an informative post! It's very interesting to read and learn about different places.

  26. Thanks for sharing this with us. It's enlightening to learn that those are names of trees and great to have the details that you shared with us on your blog!

  27. Hi
    Icy BC,glad you enjoyed some Malaysian flavour :)

    J.C., thank you for coming to my blog. Do visit again.

  28. Wishing you a Happy CNY and Happy Holiday !

  29. Hi
    Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover), thanks and GONG XI to you too! It'll be a good 15 days of New year and hopefully I'll be able to do some extra catching up with friends and rellies. Toss the yee sang high, ok?


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