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Planchonella obovata


Planchonella obovata (R. Br.) Pierre

Family Name: Sapotaceae
Synonyms: Planchonella ferruginea, Chrysophyllum obovatum, Sersalisia obovata
Common Name: Sea Gutta, Menasi, Northern Yellow Boxwood, Yellow Teak, Black Ash, Pulau Dammar, Misi, Nyatoh Laut, 山榄, 树青


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 Oval
Maximum Height 5 m to 28 m


Native Distribution Seychelles, Pakistan, India, south China, Taiwan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Andaman Islands, the rest of Southeast Asia (including Singapore), northeast Australia, Solomon Islands
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Secondary Rainforest, Coastal Forest), Shoreline (Mangrove Forest, Sandy Beach)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Vulnerable (VU))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a small or medium-sized tree, up to 28 m tall. 
Crown Its crown is conical when young, becoming more rounded, oval or irregular with age, with coppery-golden appearance due to colour of leaf undersides.
Trunk Bark brown, shallowly-fissured, with pinkish to reddish-brown inner bark. Low spreading buttresses (up to 1m high) may be present in mature specimens. All bruised parts of the plant exude white latex.
Foliage Its alternate, stalked leaves have papery to somewhat leathery leaf blades that are elliptic or obovate, dark glossy green and hairless above, densely reddish-brown hairy below, and 5-20 by 2-10 cm.
Flowers Its greenish-white flowers are 6 mm wide, female or bisexual, in small axillary clusters. Reportedly scented like the leaves of Pandanus amaryllifolius (Fragrant Pandan).
Fruit Its 1-5 seeded fruits are obovoid to somewhat round, pale-yellow to reddish-brown upon ripening, and 8-15 mm wide. Seeds 1-3 per fruit, yellow, with distinct linear scar.
Habitat Forms thickets along sandy or rocky shores, coastal cliffs, back mangroves (just above the high-tide mark, behind the Terminalia and Barringtonia line of seashore trees), coastal secondary forests, inland sandy heaths and limestone hills.
Taxonomy Currently classified in the Planchonella genus, whose centre of diversity lies largely in the Old World. Previously classified under Pouteria -- a New World genus that is most diverse in the tropical Americas.
Cultivation Hardy tree, tolerant of salt-spray, seawater innudation and urban pollution. Avoid planting at eroding coasts, as trees located at such sites are known to topple. Withstands some shade, but looks best in full sun. Propagate by seeds or cuttings.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Planchonella' named after French botanist Jules Émile Planchon (1823-1888), who upon obtaining his doctorate was appointed Keeper of the Herbarium at the Royal Kew Gardens. Subsequently noted for his chief role in introducing disease-resistant American grapevines to France and saving the latter's vineyards from extermination by a microscopic aphid-like pest (Phylloxera vastatrix) during the 1860s and 1870s. Species epithet 'obovata' means 'inverted ovate' or 'egg-shaped' in Latin, a reference to the plant's leaves.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb and Spice)
Medicinal: Traditionally used in pain relief. Leaf paste either applied to forehead, or leaf decoction drunk to relieve headaches. Mixed decoction made from leaves of this plant and those of Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (Rose Myrtle) drunk to treat stomachache. Leaf decoction drunk as remedy for chest pains. Poultice of crushed leaves applied topically to treat lower backache.
Timber & Products: Source of good-quality, decorative pinkish-brown hardwood (known as Nyatoh Laut in Southeast Asia, and as Northern Yellow Boxwood in Australian timber trade), used for carvings, cabinets and furniture, as well as making house posts and saltwater piling.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Fragrant (Flowers) (Day)
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, Coastal, General, Shade Providing Tree / Palm, Beachfront / Shoreline
Thematic Landscaping Golden Garden, Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

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


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Brown, Green, Yellow / Golden
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny, Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate, Oval, Lanceolate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Cuneate
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 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) Brown
Mature Bark Texture Fissured
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers , Monoecious
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, Green, White
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Black
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Berry

Image Repository



Master ID 1795
Species ID 3088
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: 06 March 2023.