Amazing Plant Life To Discover In Sri Lanka’s Southern Forests & Local Villages
1. Mee (Madhuca longifolia)
A native tree in Sri Lanka grows in wet zone, intermediate zone and dry zone mainly in moist areas such as near to water ways. Can grow up to 30 meters in height. This has water retention ability and provide a good shade. Since the ancient times seed oil of Mee used for cooking, cosmetics, medicines and used for lamps. Several parts of the tree used for Ayurveda medicine.
2. Batadomba (Syzygium paniculatum)
A native species grows in wet zone forest areas. Batadomba can grow up to 15 meters which is a part of the lower canopy. During the flowering season numerous bees and butterflies hanging around the clusters of white colored flowers. Purple color fruits eat by many birds and mammals. Fruits also consumed by humans.
3. Kenda (Macaranga peltata)
A medium sized woody pioneer native to Sri Lanka. Can grow up to 10 meters. Mostly grow in lowland rainforests below 1000m. Large leaves of Kenda used for flavoring Halapa, a sweet food and also for wrap jaggery and other sweetmeats by villagers. Industrially used for wooden pencils and plywood industry. In forest planting Kanda used for establish the shade for secondary species.
4. Kosdel (Artocarpus altilis)
A member of in breadfruit (del), Jackfruit (kos) family. Hence, the fruit of this plant shows features of both fruits this tree locally known as Kosdel. A native species grows well with the wet and warm conditions in the wet zone, also in intermediate zone. At the maturity a tree can grow up to 20 meters. Kosdel fruit eaten by birds, bats and mammals, therefore in the wild seeds disperse by animals. Trees also grown in home gardens mostly the fruit and seeds use as a food by villagers. Sometimes timber used for constructions and furniture. Some parts of the tree used for Ayurveda medicinal treatments.
5. Pelang (Bhesa ceylanica)
Endemic tree to Sri Lanka grows in wet zone. At the maturity can grow up to 25 – 35 meters which helps to form the upper and middle canopy layers. Also identified as a larval food plant of Chestnut Streaked Sailor butterfly.
6. Weralu (Elaeocarpus serratus)
Native tree grow up to 15 meters in forest edges up to 900 m MSL. Fruits eaten by birds and mammals. Also mostly people in Sri Lanka pickled Veralu (known as Ceylon Olives) and eaten as a popular street food. Planting as an ornamental tree also.
7. Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum)
Medium sized native tree grow up to 12 – 20 meters. Produced a popular red colored fruit than eaten raw as well as jams, jellies etc. Food source for birds, bats and mammals.
8. Bomi (Litsea glutinosa)
Medium sized tree grow up to 10 meters. Contribute to the formation of lower canopy. Grow in lowland and montane rain forests. Many parts of the plant use for medicinal purposes. Timber uses for constructions.
9. Naa (Mesua ferrea)
Considered as the national tree of Sri Lanka. A native tree naturally grow in lowland rainforests below 1000m. Slow growing light loving tree species can reach the height of 30 meters. Therefore, this species produce hard heartwood timber that uses for heavy construction activities. Apart from the naturally grown trees in the wet zone, Naa tree can see throughout the island near to Buddhists monasteries as the Naa considered as a religious tree by Buddhists.
10. Hora (Dipteracarpus zeylanicus)
An endangered species in the IUCN red list grows in lowland rainforests below 1000m in the wet zone. Also an endemic tree species. At the maturity Hora tree can reach the height of 40 – 45 meters as part of the emergent tree layer in rainforest canopy. As a dominant tree in the canopy layer this tree plats a huge ecological role in rainforests. Tree is identical with a cylindrical light brown colored trunk. Produce a fruit with two wings can spread through wind. This tree also a good source of timber that used for construction purposes.
11. Dawata (Caralia brachiata)
A native tree grow in rainforests and reach up to 30 meters in height. Part of the upper canopy in rainforests that provide a corridor for the movement of monkeys and squirrels and as well as a nesting area for some birds. Also use as an ornamental tree in home gardens, urban landscaping etc. Tree is identical with elliptic in shape with a tapering base. Some parts of the tree use for medicinal purposes.
12. Badulla (Semecarpus coriacea)
An endemic tree species (IUCN – EN) grow in rainforests and grow up to 10meters. Slow growing shady loving species helps to form the sub canopy. Produce a white latex that poisonous to expose directly to skin and including latex most parts of the tree using in Ayurveda medicine. Categorized as an endangered species in the IUCN red list.
13. Dombakeena (Calophyllum moonii)
An endemic tree to Sri Lanka grows in wet zone forests grow up to 20 meters high. Helps to form middle canopy of the forest. Produce edible fruits mostly eaten by birds and parts of the fruit used in Ayurveda medicine. Falls into Vulnerable category in IUCN Red list.
14. Ketakeela (Bridelia retusa)
A native tree Grow up to 15 meters in height. Loved to grow in sunlight and usually grow in forest edges and helps to form sub canopy. Use as an ornamental tree in home gardens and urban landscaping as the tree provide a good shade.
15. Kithul (Caryota urens)
A solitary-trunked tree that grows up to 20 meters. In wet and intermediate zones home gardens this tree widely distributed. The inflorescences emerge at each leaf node produce a sweet nectar from phloem (known as ‘Thelijja’ in Sinhala) the source of Kithul treacle and Jaggery. Through the fermentation a while colored alcohol called Toddy also produced. Also through the fermentation of Thelijja industrially produced Vinegar. Pulp of the fully grown up plant is cut, sun dried, powdered and is edible. In Sri Lanka, the powder is mixed with coconut milk and cooked to make Kithul Thalapa. Elephants are fed both the leaf and the pulp of this plant. In Sri Lanka Kithul cultivated for produce those products, also as an ornamental tree when smaller and planted in gardens and parks.
16. Atamba (Mangifera zeylanica)
Endemic tree to Sri Lanka belongs to Mango family. Can grows up to 35 meters and identical with cylindrical stem. Usually distributed in wet zone rainforests and helps to form the upper canopy. Also found in intermediate zone forests and moist valleys in dry zone. Produce a relatively small mango fruit but with a high sweet taste. Therefore many mammals such as birds, mammals and bats eaten this fruit and distribute seeds. Most villagers also loved to this fruit and the wood also uses for light construction purposes. In traditional medicine all the parts of the plants are used. Falls into VU category in IUCN red list.
17. Goraka (Garcinia gummi-gutta)
An evergreen medium sized native tree grows in forests in wet and intermediate zones. It preferred to grow slow in shady conditions. Also grow in home gardens as a cash crop. The outer layer of the dried fruit use as culinary and medicinal purposes since ancient times. Nowadays famous for its weight losing and immune system boosting properties. In the wild many animals eat fruit of this plant (Orange – Red colored pumpkin shape medium sized fruit) as a delicious fruit.
18. Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana)
Slow growing native tree species can see in home gardens in wet zone areas. It can grow up to 25 meters tall, but is usually much smaller, especially in cultivation. This species mostly known from cultivations but sometimes can see in forest edges. Produce a tasty fruit (purple when ripen) can eat raw. And seeds occasionally eat. Rind, leaves, bark and roots also used for medicinal purposes. A food source for birds, squirrels and bats.