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Alstonia angustifolia


Alstonia angustifolia Miq.

Family Name: Apocynaceae
Synonyms: Alstonia latifolia, Alstonia beccarii
Common Name: Pulai Penipu Paya, Red-leaved Pulai, Hard Alstonia

Alstonia angustifolia or Pulai Penipu Paya is a native tree of Singapore, measuring between 5 - 35 m tall. It has steep and tall buttresses, narrowly lance-shaped leaves, white, hairy fragrant flowers. Pulai Penipu Paya are planted in parks and gardens for its scented flowers.


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Small (6m-15m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Conical
Maximum Height 15 m


Native Distribution Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Bangka Island, and Borneo
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Freshwater Swamp Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Least Concern (LC))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Small to medium sized tree 5-35m tall, with steep and tall buttresses
Trunk Bark smooth, grey or somewhat brown, flaky or fissured
Foliage Its 3-whorled, stalked leaves have somewhat leathery leaf blades that are narrowly lance-shaped, and 10–15 by 2.5–4.5 cm.
Flowers It has a terminal inflorescence. Its fragrant flower have petals that are white and hairy.
Fruit Its follicles are 50–70 cm long. Its seeds are oblong, pointed at one end, and 1 cm long.
Habitat It grows in primary and secondary forests, peat swamps and hilly areas from sea level to 1,700 m altitude
Similar It can be differentiated from Alstonia angustiloba by the venation. In Alstonia angustifolia, there are 10-15 (-20) pairs of lateral veins that are well spaced out, and form an acute angle of 80' or less with the mid rib. In A. angustiloba, the leaves have 30-60 (-70) pairs of  closely spaced lateral veins that are almost perpendicular with the mid rib. In A. angustifolia, the venation between lateral veins (intercostal venation) is reticulate (net like) and can be seen sometimes on both surfaces, whereas it is inconspicuous in A. angustiloba.
Associated Fauna It is pollinated by insects.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Latin Alstonia, commemorates Dr. Charles Alston (1685–1760), a professor of botany at Edinburgh University; Latin angustifolia means having narrow leaves
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal: Traditional Medicinal Uses
In Asia countries like Malaysia, the plant is used externally to overcome remittent fever by rubbing the leaves on the spleen area. <2>

It is important to note that some therapeutic effects from traditional medicinal uses of plants are not currently supported or verified by scientific research. Similar to all Apocynaceae species, Alstonia angustifolia also contain white, milky sap which can cause allergic reactions especially for those with sensitive skins. Medical advice should be sought before use.  
Timber & Products: Its wood is pale brown, light, and soft. It is not durable, but used in building.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for parks and streetscapes for its fragrant flowers.
Desirable Plant Features Fragrant

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water, Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Whorled
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Lanceolate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers , Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White, Cream / Off-White, Pink
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Trumpet-shaped
Inflorescence Type Cyme
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Dehiscent Dry Fruit , Follicle



<1> Middleton, D.J (2007). Apocynaceae (Subfamilies Rauvolfioideae and Apocynoideae), Flora Malesiana, ser. 1, Seed Plants, vol. 18, Leiden: Rijksherbarium.

<2> Zhao, M.X., Cai, J., Yang, Y., Xu, J., Liu, WY., Akihisa, T. Li, W., Kikuchi, T., Feng, F. & Zhang. J. (2023). Traditional uses, chemical composition and pharmacological activities of Alstonia R. Br. (Apocynaceae): A Review. Arabian Journal of Chemistry 16: 1-24.

Image Repository



Master ID 1410
Species ID 2703
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: 17 October 2023.