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Kleinhovia hospita


Kleinhovia hospita L.

Family Name: Malvaceae
Common Name: Guest Tree, Bataria Teak, Temahai, Laban, Matakara, Tan-ag, 鹧鸪麻, 克蘭树, 面頭果


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Medium (16m-30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded
Maximum Height 8 m to 20 m


Native Distribution India, Southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia (Queensland), Southwestern Pacific (Fiji, French Polynesia)
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Secondary Rainforest, Monsoon Forest, Coastal Forest, Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Presumed Nationally Extinct (NEx))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a small to medium tree, up to 20 m tall.
Crown It has a dense, rounded crown with low-branching.
Trunk Bole typically short and low-forking, developing many suckers with age. Bark grey and fissured.
Foliage Its spiral, stalked leaves have leaf blades that are egg- or heart-shaped, and are 5-15 by 3.7-12.5 cm.
Stems Young twigs pubescent.
Flowers Its pink flowers are about 10 mm long and grow in upright flowering shoots.
Fruit Its fruits are roundish, 5-lobed, thin-walled, membraneous inflated capsules, 2-2.5 cm across, with each locule ontaining 1-2 small warty seeds. The fruits are produced in large drooping clusters, ripening from translucent light green to brown, dispersed by water.
Habitat It grows in the open country, along riverbanks, and in secondary forests up to 500 m altitude.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are pollinated by insects. It is the preferred local food plant for the moths Euproctis fulvonigra, Imma thyriditis, and Somena scintillans.
Cultivation Likes well-drained soils, grows well at acidic sites. Leaves provide nutrient-rich mulch. Remove basal shoots if plant is being grown as shade tree with clear trunk. Tree produces fruits within third year of planting. Propagate by seeds, as cuttings are reportedly difficult to root due to presence of continuous sclerenchyma band in the pericycle.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Kleinhovia' named after Christiaan Kleynhoff (died 1777), German doctor and botanist with the Dutch East Indies Company. He established at Batavia Indonesia the trading company's first botanic gardens in Asia, and sent plant collections to Linnaeus, who subsequently named the genus after Kleynhoff. Species epithet 'hospita' derived from the Latin term 'hospes' (guest), meaning 'hospitable' or 'friendly', possibly alluding to the tree's frequent association with human riverside settlements.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Leaves
Food (Fruit or Vegetable): Young leaves and shoots eaten as vegetable. 
Medicinal: Leaves and bark contain cyanogenic compounds, used as hairwash to kill ectoparasites like lice. Leaf juice used as eyewash. Leaf decoction used to treat skin diseases like scabies, itch, and dermatis. Preparation obtained from cambium used to treat pneumonia in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Leaf extracts exhibit antioxidant and anti-tumour properties, and are being investigated as potential treatment against liver cancer. 
Timber & Products: Straight branches used for house rafters and agricultural stakes, twisted branches used for ornamental carving and making knife handles. Timber used as fuelwood. Bark fibres used to make rough cordage and water-resistant ropes used to tether livestock.
Others: Bark used to stun eels.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for planting in roadsides and parks.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Fruits, Ornamental Foliage
Landscape Uses Coastal, General, Riverine, Suitable for Roadsides, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment
Usage Hazard - Cons Low Crown / Clearance

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Caterpillar Moth Food Plant, Bee-Attracting
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Water)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Moist Soils
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Foliar Modification Stipule
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate, Spiral
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Cordate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Cordate
Typical Foliar Area Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Bark Colour(s) Grey
Mature Bark Texture Fissured
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Size - Remarks 8-10mm across
Inflorescence Type Panicle
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Dehiscent Dry Fruit , Capsule

Image Repository



Master ID 1688
Species ID 2981
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 18 August 2022.