Southeast Asian Jungles and Riverbanks: The Kratom Forest Haven

Southeast Asian Jungles and Riverbanks: The Kratom Forest Haven

Have you ever inquired where the wonder cure, kratom, hails from? Are you familiar with the existence of kratom forests?

For the curious kratom consumers, you may think about the jungles and riverbanks in Southeast Asia as the locations where kratom trees grow. You may also have the imagination of kratom plantations which are cultivated by hardworking Indonesian farmers and harvesters who use organic fertilizers to grow the best type of this herbal medicine.

But where exactly are these kratom forests found? Let us discuss in-depth. But first, let us have a look at the tree where the alternative medicine is sourced from.

Mitragyna Speciosa: Southeast Asian Kratom Tree with Healing Leaves

Mitragyna speciosa is an evergreen tree that grows to as tall as 82 feet in regions with tropical climates. This tree is well-known from where kratom leaves are derived from. It possesses glossy, dark green leaves that are about 6 to 8 inches in length and are larger than those of typical plants.

The trunk of Mitragyna speciosa is usually straight, and the barks from its outer portions are normally gray and smooth. The kratom tree also has yellowish flowers that grow in clusters of three at the end portions of the branches. As a part of the Rubiaceae family of plants, Mitragyna speciosa is a relative of trees which yield coffee beans.

Colonial botanist, Pieter Willem Korthals from the Netherlands, was the first person to formally describe Mitragyna speciosa in 1839. He thought that this lush evergreen tree’s leaves looked like a miter, the distinct pointy white hats that the bishops in his native land wore.

With such name of the bishops’ cap, Korthals was the person who gave Mitragyna speciosa its name. Additionally, he documented the purpose of the tree in the southern sections of Thailand where it was treated as a traditional plant.

In 1859, George Darby Haviland, a British naturalist and surgeon, provided the tree its final name.

Kratom leaves are known to be herbal medicaments. They can be chewed and concocted into tea. These leaves of Mitragyna speciosa contain psychoactive effects. Kratom users are able to experience pain relief, enhanced moods, reduced stress, and increased energy.

Rural workers in Southeast Asia have used kratom to make them feel better, and at the same time, increase their productivity as they perform hard labor under the intense heat of the sun.

The leaves of Mitragyna speciosa are comprised of 40 unique active compounds with 25 alkaloids. Mitraphylline, mitragynine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine are the most prominent of these alkaloids that have positive impacts on depression, pain, fatigue, and anxiety.

Kratom with higher alkaloid content is said to be found in older Mitragyna speciosa trees, particularly in places with slightly acidic soil.

At the dawn of the new millennium in 2000, the leaves of the tree began to be imported in North America. Westerners view kratom as similar to coffee due to its energizing and mind-stimulating effects.  Since then, it has transformed into one of the best-selling ethnobotanical cures available.

Kratom Jungles in Southeast Asia: Ethnobotanical Cure’s Birthplace

Southeast Asian Jungles and Riverbanks: The Kratom Forest Haven

Mitragyna speciosa tree is indigenous to Southeast Asian countries like Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Papua New Guinea.

According to “Kratom and Other Mitragynines: The Chemistry and Pharmacology of Opioids from a Non-Opium Source” published by Robert B. Raffa in 2014, the specific places where kratom forests are situated are in the following locales in Southeast Asia.

Additional details are also provided based on relevant sources like the news and other journals:

1. Peninsular and Southwestern Portions of Thailand

  • Mitragyna speciosa grows through Lower Siam or the southern localities of Thailand and in the northern section of Bangkok.
  • Based on a news article by the New York Times dated 2012, people who consumed the red-veined kratom were seized.  The report said that the trees were plentiful in Narathiwat, one of the provinces in southern Thailand.
  • Other areas like Pattani and Yala which are predominantly Muslim are where kratom trees and consumers are aplenty. In these areas, the people are not allowed to drink alcohol based on the dictates of their belief.  Hence, kratom is an alternative substitute and is not specifically prohibited.
  • The New York Times report also mentioned about a protected kratom forest close to the Satun Province which has the largest collection of kratom trees.

2. South Vietnam

  • Raffa cited that the majority of the distribution of Mitragyna speciosa tree is within a location called the Malesian floristic region, the northwestern section of the distribution lying within the Indo-Chinese localities.
  • The distribution of the kratom species within these nations is harder to determine. Raffa noted that they must be “cobbled together” from plenty of different sources.
  • The author also mentioned that much of the early writings describing the flora of Malesian floristic region provided little details and would only cite one or two places where Mitragyna Speciosa can be found.

3. Malay Peninsula

  • Mitragyna speciosa is prevalent in Perak and near Salak in the Kuala Kangsar district.
  • The tree is in the jungle and is planted in the kampongs (Malaysian villages or enclosures). They have been preserved when other trees fell off or have been cleared away.
  • The trees are also said to be found in the Malay isles and open-country habitats. It is viewed as rare, according to some writers.
  • More recent works describe the distribution and habitat of Mitragyna speciosa in Peninsular Malaysia’s river systems, stream habitats, and freshwater swamps in the states of Kelantan, Pahang, Selangor, and Perak.
  • In the Kinabatangan River in Sabah, all the kratom trees are found in the lowland forests. It is a common riverside tree, especially along the low and muddy tributaries or riverbanks.
  • Mitragyna speciosa is reported to be the most flood-tolerant species. Extensive Mitragyna speciosa groves are said to be found on the seasonal swamp forests of Danau Luagan, a kratom forest with almost pure stands of the tree along the edge of the river. This location is reported to have the most extensive population of the kratom tree.
  • At the Tenegang Lake in Danau Pitas, still in Sabah, a more mature and heterogeneous kratom forest can be found. It is a freshwater swamp kratom forest and found growing in clusters in the backwater swamps.

4. Borneo

  • Borneo is divided between three countries, namely Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia. Mitragyna speciosa is particularly found on the South Kalimantan, Indonesian side: the Doeson river, in Banjarmasin, in Mantalat, and in the swampy sections and in the dry regions of Martapura.
  • According to a Bloomberg report in June 2018, the deep, lush jungles of the remote region of Kapuas Hulu in Indonesian Borneo is thriving as vast kratom plantations.
  • The locale acts as the supplier for American companies that are helping curb the opioid epidemic.

5. Philippines

  • The kratom tree is abundant in two of the main islands of the Philippines. It can be found in Cagayan and Mindoro in Luzon, Davao, and Agusan in Mindanao.

6. New Guinea

  • According to the book by Raffa, the island of New Guinea is divided between two nations: the eastern section belongs to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, while the western half is a part of Indonesia (Papua and West Papua provinces).
  • At least 40 records for specimens of Mitragyna speciosa are distributed across much of New Guinea.

7. Burma or Myanmar

  • Mitragyna speciosa’s name in the Burmese language is beinsa.
  • The distribution of these trees is said to be in South Tenasserim or Southeastern Myanmar.

8. Indonesia

  • According to Kats Botanicals, an online retailer of kratom products, their kratoms are harvested from forests in the Sekadue region of Indonesia.
  • Sumatra Island is where the Sumatra Kratom hails from. This island has a rainy and humid climate that is common among tropical countries in Southeast Asia. Large numbers of Mitragyna speciosa trees naturally populate this area.


Apparently, the herbal cure truly comes from kratom forests in Southeast Asia. With this knowledge, you will understand the nature of kratom and where to get them if you really want the most authentic version.

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