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Nyctanthes arbor-tristis


Nyctanthes arbor-tristis

Family Name: Oleaceae
Common Name: Tree of Sadness, Seri Gading, Night Blooming Jasmine, Tree of Sorrow, Coral Jasmine


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Shrub, Tree (Small (6m-15m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution Southern Asia, Pakistan, Nepal, India and Thailand
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Local Conservation Status Non-native

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Large shrub or small tree up to 9 m tall.
Trunk Grey-coloured, rough and flaky bark.
Foliage Hairy and rough green leaves, decussately and simple, margin entire, measuring about 6 - 12 cm long and 2 - 6.5 cm wide.
Flowers Fragrant white flowers, 5 - 8 lobed corolla with an orange-red centre, usually in clusters of 2 - 7 and arranged at the tips of branches terminally or in the axils of leaves. Flowers bloom profusely at night and lose their fragrance and colour as day approaches, and dropping off in the morning. 
Fruits Flat, brown, heart-shaped fruit with 2 sections each containing a single seed.
Habitat Usually found on rocky ground in dry hillsides and as undergrowth in dry deciduous forests.
Cultivation This plant can tolerate light shade, but the best growth and most abundant blooming occurs under full sun. It grows best when the soil is watered thoroughly and then allowed to become quite dry before re-watering. Use well-drained soil and a clay pot to help the soil dry faster in order to prevent root rot. Frequent pruning will stimulate this plant to form a dense crown and produce more flowers. Application of a phosphorous rich fertilizer like bone meal will also help to stimulate flowering.
Etymology Genus name Nyctanthes comes from the Greek word "nukto-anqoj", which means night-flower. Species name arbor-tristis means melancholy or sorrowful tree.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal ( In the traditional Indian medicine system known as Ayurveda, this plant is used to treat sciatica (leg pain caused by lower back problems) and arthritis. Support for this use was provided by Saxena et al. (1984) who found that the leaf extract has anti-inflammatory activity. Puri et al. (1994) demonstrated that flowers, leaves and especially seeds have compounds that stimulate the immune system. Other studies showed that it has antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-protozoan activity, as well as a protective effect on liver cells.)
Cultural / Religious ( In India, Pakistan, Thailand and Nepal, Coral Jasmine is considered a scared plant and is often planted near monasteries.)
[Others]: Flower and leaf extracts contain compounds with mosquito larvicidal activity (Mathew et al. 2009).

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Pruning Nyctanthes arbor-tristis can handle hard pruning. It is best to typically remove up to half its growth, but it can also regrow from a small stump.
Potential Problems Avoid overwatering which easily results in root rot. 
Propagation Method Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) White, Orange
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary, Terminal
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Tubular

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Few (1-5)

Image Repository



Master ID 976
Species ID 2270
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: 07 September 2021.