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Afgekia sericea Craib

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Common Name: Silky Afgekia, Kan Phai, Thua Paep Chaang
Full Sun: 6-8h Semi-Shade Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Butterfly Food Plant Caterpillar Food Plant Herb & Spice Ornamental Flowers Ornamental Foliage Climber, Vine and Liana


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 Climber, Vine & Liana
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 5 m to 10 m


Native Distribution Thailand, Vietnam
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Monsoon Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Evergreen leguminous vine with bushy growth and slender woody stems at base, able to reach 10m with support.
Foliage Leaves odd-pinnately compound, with opposite oblong leaflets. Leaflets elliptical (6.5cm by 2.5 cm), soft, densely pubescent on both surfaces and along margins, appearing silvery-green on top and pale green below. Young leaflets densely furry, appearing silver-white before unfolding, produced on tomentose twining stems.
Flowers Papilionoid (pea-like), with 5 furry-pubescent pink-white petals -- 1 light pink and white upper-petal ("standard") with pink-yellow nectar guide, 2 dark to purplish-pink lateral-petals ("wings") that form a cap over 2 white lower-petals ("keel"), which in turn enclose the reproductive parts within a boat-like structure. Inflorescences raceme, long and many floreted, upper portion pink, typically produced near top of plant. Florets open gradually from base to tip of inforescence over some 2 months. Each floret opens and becomes receptive from 4am, but lasts only for 24 hours. Flowering occurs from mid-May to end October during rainy season in native range, but plant blooms almost year-round outside of natural habitat, as observed in urban Bangkok and Singapore. Florets pollinated by bees, chiefly Megachile velutina (Leafcutter Bee), which visit the plant for nectar, pollen and leaves (used as nesting material). Species is thought to be cross-pollinating and self-incompatible.
Fruits Pubescent seedpods, produced in clustered infructescences, ripening to brown with beige hairs. Species rarely sets fruits (< 0.2% at native sites). Fruiting not observed in Singapore.
Habitat Climbing on trees near edges of lowland and hill dry dipterocarp forests. Discovered in northeast Thailand in 1928 and thought to be endemic to Thailand, until it was also collected from Vietnam in 2000. Species considered relatively rare, currently threatened by habitat fragmentation, low population densities and very limited fruit production.
Similar Resembles the closely-allied species Afgekia mahidoliae (Kan Phai Mahidol), whose natural range of limestone deciduous forests in western Thailand lies 320km away and across the breath of the Chao Phraya River. Differentiated by its inflorescences of purple-white florets, as well as its larger broad-oval leaflets (7..5cm by 4.3 cm) that are pale green and less hirsute below.
Cultivation Fuss-free plant. Provide regular moisture. Can be trained as a potted plant by twining the stems around stakes. Propagate by seeds (if available). Cuttings reported to be difficult to strike.
Etymology Genus epithet "Afgekia" derived from the name initials of Irish medical doctor and plant-collector Arthur Francis George Kerr (1877-1942), who worked from 1925-1931 as a distinguished taxonomist for the Flora of Thailand Project. Species epithet “sericea” means "silky", a reference to the pubescent nature of the plant. Vernacular name "Kan Phai" means "protecting from threat" in Thai, and is represented as a captivating benovelent vine in Thai religious sacraments.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb and Spice)
[Others]: Roots used to treat chicken pox and throat problems like follicular pharyngitis.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses Vertical Greenery / Green Wall, Container Planting
Thematic Landscaping Silver Garden, Naturalistic Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting, Butterfly Food Plant, Caterpillar Food Plant, Moth Food Plant, Caterpillar Moth Food Plant, Bat Food
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Silver / Grey
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose, Hairy / Hirsute, Raised / Sunken Veins
Foliar Type Compound (Odd-Pinnate)
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Cuspidate
Foliar Base Rounded / Obtuse
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 )
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Remarks Silver-white

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Woody, Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Pink, White, Yellow / Golden
Flower Symmetry Bilateral
Inflorescence Type Raceme
Flowering Period Free-Flowering
Flowering Opening Time Daytime
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Day
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Legume / Pod

Image Repository



Master ID 5
Species ID 1301
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: 19 August 2021.