The world’s tallest tropical tree in three dimensions

Alexander Shenkin, Christopher Chandler, Doreen Boyd, Tobias Jackson, Jamiluddin bin Jami, Mathias Disney, Noreen Majalap, Reuben Nilus, Giles Foody, Glen Reynolds, Phil Wilkes, Mark Cutler, Geertje M. Van Der Heijden, David Burslem, David Coomes, Lisa Patrick Bentley, Yadvinder Malhi (Corresponding Author)

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Here we report the recent discovery of the world’s tallest tropical tree (Shorea faguetiana), possibly the world’s tallest angiosperm (flowering plant), located in the rainforests of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. In addition, we provide a novel three-dimensional exploration of the dimensions of this remarkable tree and use these data to speculate on what drives the limits of tree height. Through consideration of both mechanical (risk of wind damage) and ecophysiological constraints we argue that this tree is close to the maximum height possible for angiosperms, around 100 m, and discuss more broadly what the nature and location of this tree imply about the limits to tree height. We propose to name this remarkable tree “Menara”, Malay for “tower".
Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalFrontiers in Forests and Global Change
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank NERC for funding the airborne remote sensing campaign (HMTF grant NE/K016377/1 to the BALI consortium, YM, DC and DB) + direct access grant to MC, DSB, GM and DB), analyses (grants NE/P004806/1 to MC, DSB, GF, DB, GH, and NE/I528477/1 to GH, DSB, GF), and ground-based work (grant NE/P012337/1 to YM, MD and LPB); an ERC Advanced Investigator Award (321131) to YM for funding the UAV work; LAStools’ LASmoons program for a free academic license; and an Anne McLaren Research fellowship by the University of Nottingham to GH for funding the tree climbing. YM is supported by the Jackson Foundation.

Data availability statement
Generated Statement: The datasets generated for this study are available on request to the corresponding author.


  • tree height
  • tropical forests
  • limits to height
  • angiosperm
  • LIDAR - remote sensing
  • terrestrial laser scanning
  • UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle)


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