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Tetracera indica (Houtt. ex Christm. & Panz.) Merr.

Family Name: Dilleniaceae
Synonyms: Tetracera laevis, Assa , Tetracera dichotoma, Acrotrema exotica, Tetracera wahlbomia, Tetracera assa, Wahlbomia indica, Acrotrema laevis, Tetracera malabarica, Tetracera trigyna
Common Name: Mempelas, Akar Mempelas, Tetracera, Hedge Row Tetracera, Puson Dumarun, Akar Pulas Duyio, Empelas, 锡叶藤属
Full Sun Moderate Water Native to Singapore Suitable for Hanging Baskets Fragrant Plant Ornamental Flowers 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
Maximum Height 5 m


Native Distribution S. Myanmar, S. Thailand, S. Indo-China, Malaysia, Southern Asia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Least Concern (LC))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form A woody climber up to 5 m long. 
Trunk Woody stem has greyish brown bark. It is highly branched with smooth branches. Young stem is deep red. 
Foliage Leaves are elliptic or obovate with a serrate leaf margin (5 - 12 cm long, 3 - 5 cm wide). The apex of the leaf is acute or obtuse, while the base is acute. The veins on the underside of the leaf bear a sparse or dense set of stiff, thick bristles. 
Flowers Flowers have 3 - 5 petals, 3 - 4 carpels and numerous pink-tipped stamens (2.5 - 3 cm wide). Groups of usually 4 - 7 flowers are arranged in terminal inflorescences (5 - 8 cm long). Flowering followed by fruiting occurs from April to September. 
Fruits The fruit is leathery, round or oblong (0.8 - 1 cm wide), and has a thin beak at the apex which is the remainder of the style (0.2 - 0.6 cm long). They typically each have 2 dark brown or black, egg-shaped seeds wrapped in red arils (fleshy tissue). These fruits are classified as follicles. A follicle is a dehiscent fruit formed from 1 ovary of a flower and occurs singly or fused together with other follicles. 
Habitat Occurs in open forests, forest margins or scrub. This species is usually found at low altitudes of up to 100 m, but sometimes up to 600 m. 
Etymology The species epithet "indica" means that it comes from India. However, the origin of this species is actually in Southeast Asia.
Ethnobotanical Uses [Others]: Medicine: The leaves and roots are pounded and applied to itchy skin for relief. In Malaysian traditional medicine, the leaves are thought to reduce high blood pressure and cure high fevers. Malays also treat headaches with a poultice of ground shoots wrapped in banana leaves. The poultice is heated and then applied to the head. Other: The rough leaves are used like sandpaper in villages, such as for polishing and scouring. The stems hold water that can be drunk. They can also be used to make ropes.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping This species can be used to add colour to the landscape, because its young stems and fruits have an attractive bright red colour. The fruits have an interesting form, because they are often fused together in clusters of 3 and have thin beaks. It may be pruned into a dense bush that can hide unsightly fixtures. It can also be trained as a climber to cover trellises. Although this species has good potential as a landscaping plant, it is not commonly used and can provide a unique look for your landscaping project or home garden. Cultivation: This species is not often used in landscaping. Thus, there is little information on its specific cultivation requirements. 
Desirable Plant Features Fragrant (Flowers) (Day), Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Stems, Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses Hanging Basket, Container Planting, General
SGMP Treatment

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Sucker
Propagation Method Remarks Propagate by seed or by replanting the suckers. 


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate, Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Serrate / Toothed
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute, Obtuse
Foliar Base Acute
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 )

Non - Foliar and Storage

Bark Colour(s) Greyish brown
Mature Bark Texture Smooth
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink, Red, White
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flower Lifespan on Plant Several Days
Flowering Habit Polycarpic
Flowering Period Remarks Flowers from April to September.

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Red
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Follicle

Image Repository



Master ID 220
Species ID 1516
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: 24 December 2021.