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Morella esculenta


Morella esculenta (Buch.-Ham. ex D.Don) I.M.Turner

Family Name: Myricaceae
Synonyms: Myrica esculenta Buch.-Ham. ex D.Don
Common Name: Malay Gale, Telur Cicak, Geliche, Telur Chichak, 毛杨梅


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 (Small (6m-15m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 15 m


Native Distribution Northern India, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Borneo, and Java
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Freshwater Swamp Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Least Concern (LC))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree up to 15 m tall.
Foliage Its spirally-arranged, stalked leaves have leathery leaf blades that are lance-shaped-drop-shaped or oblong-drop-shaped, dark green above, pale green below, and 5–18 by 1–4.5 cm. Its young leaves are pale green with pink undersides. Its midrib is prominent below.
Flowers Its male flowering shoots are 4–9 cm long and many branched, while its female flowering shoots are 1–3.5 cm long and bear many flowers. Both male and female flowering shoots grow in the leaf axils. Its flower-associated modified leaves are egg-shaped-triangular and about 1.25 mm long.
Fruit Its fruits are ellipsoid, red, and about 1–2 cm long. Each fruit contains 1 seed.
Habitat It grows on dry, well-drained soils and soil rich in iron and aluminum, in forests and sand dunes, up to 1700 m altitude.
Associated Fauna It is the preferred local food plant for caterpillars of the moth Phyllonorycter myricae. It fruits are eaten by birds and other mammals.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Latin Morella, most likely from Morus, the mulberry genus; Latin esculenta, edible or good to eat
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Fruits
Food (Fruit & Vegetable)
Timber & Products: It is used as fuelwood.
Others: Its bark has good tanning properties.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for parks and streetscapes.
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting, Caterpillar Moth Food Plant
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Poor Infertile Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Spiral
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate, Oblong, Oblanceolate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual Flowers , Dioecious
Flower Colour(s) Red, Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Radial

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Red
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Non-Accessory Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 1739
Species ID 3032
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 February 2022.