The Gymnosperm Database


The type specimen, Tab. 57 in Rumphius (1741).


Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Conservation status 2010: protocol 2.3, needs updating

Agathis dammara

(Lamb.) Rich. et A. Rich. 1826

Common names

Almaciga, baltic, saleng (Philippines); Damar Malolo, Damar Nunu (Celebes); Kalline, Kessi, Oeneela (Moluccas); mountain agathis, Amboina pitch tree; damar minyak, sanum, tesanum (Pah.); Celebes kauri, Indonesian kauri (Whitmore 1980, Silba 1986, Corner 1988).

Taxonomic notes

Synonymy (Farjon 1998):

The type of this species is its illustration in Rumphius (1741), shown at right.

The profusion of names reflects this species' importance in the copal trade (see Ethnobotany section of Agathis); indeed "damar" or "dammar" is a synonym of copal. Early botanists were apt to collect this economically important tree, and a plethora of names were assigned on the basis of what are now seen as minor variations in foliage characters.


Trees to 60 m tall and 1.8 m dbh. Mature trees follow the usual Agathis model of a long clear bole with a broad emergent crown of large rigid first-order branches. The authorities differ in opinion about the bark, calling it gray, red-gray, light brown, or black, finely dimpled to thinly scaly or with many resin blisters, or rough, exfoliating thus with few epiphytes. Leaves sub-opposite, thick, coriaceous, light to dark green, highly variable even on a single tree. On young trees lanceolate, acuminate, 3x7 cm to 3.5x13 cm. On adult trees long-oval with a rounded apex, 4-8x1.5-3 cm, with a 1-8 mm petiole. Pollen cones axillary, solitary on a stout 3-4 peduncle, at anthesis small cylinders with straight sides, surface firm, smooth; 6-8 mm diameter × 12-20 mm; ultimately becoming dark brown, slightly flexuous cylinders, 10×30-40 mm, with the surface loose; basal bracts form a loose, often squarish cupule, less than, equal to, or exceeding cone width, rarely with 2 bracts enlarged, leafy, 10×30 mm. Microsporophylls at anthesis are imbricate, to 2 mm across, without a distinctly demarcated thin margin; edge erose; head in adaxial view round, 1.5-2 mm across, becoming 2.5×1.5 mm in the largest cones; thick in the center, tapering gradually to thin edges. Female cone globular or ovoid, 5.5-12 cm long by 5-7.8 cm wide; cone scales nearly triangular, upper corners of scales are broadly rounded and thin. Seed subovoid, to 1.5 cm long, one wing to 1.3 cm long, another much shorter (Whitmore 1980, Silba 1986).

The most similar species is A. borneensis; indeed the two were synonymized by de Laubenfels (1988), with which no one else has agreed. In portions of their range where the two species coincide, accurate identification requires the pollen cones, which of course are not present on (or beneath) all trees. When they are immature, the pollen cones of A. borneensis are rather globose and become cylindrical by elongation, while those of A. dammara are cylindrical but still small and retain their proportions as they grow. At maturity, the microsporophylls of A. borneensis are much larger than those of A. dammara and have a thin, lighter-colored upper margin (Farjon 2010).

Distribution and Ecology

Philippines; Indonesia: Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Celebes, Moluccas; (Silba 1986). Corner (1988) also places it in Vietnam and New Guinea, but no one else mentions this; he may be lumping it with other species of Agathis. The elevation range appears to be from 200 to 2500 m, occurring on podsolized sands and limestones, from which I infer that it can accept a wide range of silicate and carbonate substrates, though perhaps not ultramafics (Smythies 1965, Seeber et al. 1979, Whitmore 1980, Silba 1986).

The IUCN reports that this species is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild due to exploitation, coupled with ongoing decline in extent of habitat and size of population.

Big tree




"Agathis species are distinctive, highly sought and exploited for their valuable timber. Large stands of this species have been completely extracted throughout much of its range, most notably in Kalimantan. Exploitation continues to be heavy and regeneration in residual stands is insufficient to replace lost populations. In the past the tree has also been destructively exploited for copal. Plantations are now established " (WCMC [no date]).

Attempts at plantation silviculture are reported by Smythies (1965) [as A. borneensis]. At that time, "logs are in great demand in Australia as peelers for plywood factories, and command high prices; supplies are limited and most of the available stands have been worked out in the past ten years."




Richard, L. C. and A. Richard. 1826. in A. Richard (ed.), Comm. Bot. Conif. Cycad., p. 83.

Rumphius, G. E. 1741. Herbarium Amboinense, V. 2. Amsterdam: Joannes Burmannus. Available:, accessed 2009.11.14.

Seeber, Gotthard, Hans-Joachim Weidelt and Valeriano S. Banaag. 1979. Dendrological characters of important forest trees from eastern Mindanao. Eschborn. Pages 75-77.

See also

The PROTA database account for this species (accessed 2015.02.01). PROTA accounts are focused on commercial forest uses in Africa, and typically include photographs, drawings, names, distribution, and a variety of information relevant to management of the species.

The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World.

Bakhuizen, Taxon 4 (1955) 196.

de Laubenfels (1988).

Kitamura, K. and M.Y.B.A. Rahman. 1992. Genetic diversity among natural populations of Agathis borneensis (Araucariaceae), a tropical rain forest conifer from Brunei Darussalam, Borneo, Southeast Asia. Canadian Jounal of Botany 70:1945-1949.

Meijer-Drees (1940).

Whitmore (1977).

Last Modified 2017-12-29