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Melastoma malabathricum


Melastoma malabathricum L.

Family Name: Melastomataceae
Common Name: Common Sendudok, Singapore Rhododendron, Indian Rhododendron, Sesenduk, Malabar Gooseberry, Straits Rhododendron, Sendudok, Senduduk, 野牡丹


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, Tree (Shrubby (1m-5m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 1 m to 5 m


Native Distribution Indian Ocean, China, Taiwan, south and Southeast Asia (including Singapore), Australia, and the south Pacific
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Secondary Rainforest, Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland, Disturbed Area / Open Ground, Mountain)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Least Concern (LC))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a shrub or small tree up to 5 m tall. Its stems reddish, covered with small scales. 
Foliage Its opposite, stalked leaves have leaf blades that are lance-shaped, 2–15 by 0.6–6.5 cm, and bear three prominent veins–one central and two marginal. Leaves are bristly on the underside.
Flowers Its flowers are up to 8 cm wide, with petals that are light to dark magenta-pink, or occasionally white.
Fruit Its 6–10 mm-wide fruits are somewhat round, and open irregularly when ripe to expose dark blue pulp with many orange seeds. The fruits are edible but rather tasteless, with the pulp staining the tongue blue-black. 
Others - Plant Morphology It is a pioneer species frequently found in wastelands and secondary forests. It can tolerate poor soils and is considered as weedy or invasive in some countries. 
Habitat It grows in open sites, in the lowlands and on mountains up to 3,000 m altitude.
Associated Fauna It is pollinated mainly by bees and wasps, but occasionally by butterflies, too. Fruit is eaten by butterflies, birds, squirrels and monkeys.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed or stem cutting.
Etymology Genus name ‘Melastoma’ means ‘black mouth’ in Greek, a reference to the dark-coloured pulp.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Fruits, Edible Leaves, Edible Seeds
Food (Fruit or Vegetable): Young leaves eaten raw or cooked, taste sour. Pulp around seeds also eaten in Indonesia.

Scientific Evidence of Medicinal Properties

In pre-clinical trials, Common Sendudok showed pain-relieving (Sulaiman et al., 2004), anti-cancer (Balamurugan et al., 2013), anti-diabetic (Balamurugan et al., 2014), anti-inflammation (Zakaria et al., 2007), antioxidant (Verma et al., 2016), and cholesterol-lowering properties (Balamurugan et al., 2014) in animals.

Traditional Medicinal Uses

Research supports the traditional use of Common Sendudok to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Other traditional uses include using the bark to treating dysentery and toothache. A decoction of the leaves is used to treat diarrhoea, dysentery, indigestion, leucorrhoea, stomachache, piles, thrush, and weeping sores from insect stings. The leaves can be applied to cuts, painful arthritic joints, swellings and wounds too. The leaves are also made into a wash for ulcers and to prevent scarring from smallpox. The powdered leaves and roots may be applied on haemorrhoids and wounds. The roots may be used as a mouthwash for toothache.

It is important to note that some therapeutic effects from traditional medicinal uses of plants are not currently supported or verified by scientific research. 



Others: Leaves fed to silkworms in certain areas. Seeds used to produce a black dye, while the roots a pink dye.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive pink or white flowers, in borders or hedges.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Landscape Uses General, Suitable for Roadsides, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Riverine, Flowerbed / Border
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden, Wildflower Garden, Butterfly Garden, Bird & Wildlife Garden
SGMP Treatment
Usage Hazard - Cons Invasive / Potentially Invasive
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Considered weedy. May form thick thickets.
Plant & Rootzone Preference or Tolerance Remarks Moist soil.

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

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

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water, Lots of Water
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Easy to Grow
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Hairy / Hirsute, Rough, Raised / Sunken Veins
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Lanceolate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net, Parallel
Foliar Margin Entire
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink, Purple
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flowering Period Free-Flowering
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Day
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

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



Balamurugan, K., Nishanthini, A. & Mohan, V.R. (2013). Anticancer activity of ethanol extract of Melastoma malabathricum L. leaf against Dalton's ascites lymphoma. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research 5(5): 111–114.

Balamurugan, K., Nishanthini, A. & Mohan, V.R. (2014). Antidiabetic and antihyperlipidaemic activity of ethanol extract of Melastoma malabathricum Linn. leaf in alloxan induced diabetic rats. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine 4: S442–S448.

Sulaiman, M.R., Somchit, M.N., Israf, D.A., Ahmad, Z. & Moin, S. (2004). Antiociceptive effect of Melastoma malabathricum ethanolic extract in mice. Fitoterapia 75(7–8): 667–672.

Verma, A., Bhatt, P.C., Kaithwas, G., Sethi, N., Rashid, M., Singh, Y., Rahman, M., Al-Abbasi, F., Anwar, F. & Kumar, V. (2016).  Chemomodulatory effect of Melastoma malabathricum Linn. against chemically induced renal carcinogenesis rats via attenuation of inflammation, oxidative stress, and early markers of tumor expansion. Inflammopharmacology 24: 233–251.

Zakaria, Z.A., Raden Mohd. Nor, R.N.S., Hanan Kumar, G., Abdul Ghani, Z.D.F., Sulaiman, M.R., Devi, G.R., Mat Jais, A.M., Somchit, M.N. & Fatimah, C.A. (2006). Antiociceptive, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic properties of Melastoma malabathricum leaves aqueous extract in experimental animals. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 84(12): 1291–1299.



Image Repository



Master ID 927
Species ID 2221
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: 27 July 2023.