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Leea rubra


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 Shrub
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 3 m


Native Distribution India, Bangladesh, Indochina, throughout most of S.E.A. (including Singapore), Sabah and New Guinea to northern Australia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Secondary Rainforest, Monsoon Forest, Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland, Primary Rainforest)
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 semi-woody shrub up to 3 m tall.
Foliage Its alternate, stalked, 2-4 pinnate leaves are 30-60 cm long, with many leaflets.
Flowers Its flowering shoots are compact and 4-16 cm long. Flowers are bright red in colour with a yellow central disc.
Fruit It fruits are subglobose berries, turning dark red or purple when ripe, 6-seeded, 7-10 mm wide.
Habitat It grows in dry monsoon forest, savanna, primary and secondary forests up to 500 m altitude.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are pollinated by insects and butterflies. The fruits are eaten by birds and other small mammals.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed or stem cutting.
Etymology Latin Leea, a name for tropical small trees or shrubs named for James Lee (1715–1795), who was a nurseryman; Latin rubra, red, referring to the colour of the flowers.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal: Leaves are used as a poultice to treat wounds. The roots are used for reducing fevers and inducing perspiration and for treating arthritis, rheumatism and stomachaches. It is also mixed with arsenic to treat yaws. Fruits are also consumed to treat dysentery and yaws.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for planting along streetscapes, parks and gardens for its attractive bright red flowers.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Stems, Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Fruits
Landscape Uses General, Flowerbed / Border, Hedge / Screening, Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting (Fruits), Butterfly Food Plant (Flower Nectar), Bee-Attracting
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee), Insects (Butterfly, Moth), Insects (Ant, Beetle, Fly, Thrip, Wasp))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Red
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Red
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Red, White, Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Radial

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Red, Purple
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Smooth
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Moderate (6-10)


References PlantUse English contributors, "Leea rubra (PROSEA)," PlantUse English. Accessed 12 Oct. 2022.

Image Repository



Master ID 898
Species ID 2192
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: 12 October 2022.