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Melastoma malabathricum L.

Family Name: Melastomataceae
Common Name: Common Sendudok, Singapore Rhododendron, Indian Rhododendron, Sesenduk, Malabar Gooseberry, Straits Rhododendron, Sendudok, Senduduk, 野牡丹
Full Sun: 6-8h Semi-Shade Lots of Water Moderate Water Bee Attracting Plants Bird-Attracting Butterfly Food Plant Caterpillar Food Plant Native to Singapore Fruit & Vegetable Roadside Tree / Palm Ornamental Flowers Woody Tree


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 (Woody), 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 (Common)

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.
Fruits 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 Fruits eaten by birds, squirrels and monkeys in the wild. Flowers attracts Pearly-banded bees, Dwarf Carpenter Bees, Large Carpenter Bees. Blue-banded Digger Bee, for pollens.
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 & Vegetable : Young leaves eaten raw or cooked, taste sour. Pulp around seeds also eaten in Indonesia.)
Medicinal ( The bark is utilised for treating dysentery and toothache. A decoction of the leaves is used to treat diarrhoea, dysentery, indigestion, leucorrhoea, stomach-ache, 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 mouth wash for toothache.)
[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
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Easy to Grow
Landscape Uses General, Roadside Tree / Palm, 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.
Species record last updated on: 19 April 2021.