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Buchanania arborescens


Buchanania arborescens (Blume) Blume

Family Name: Anacardiaceae
Synonyms: Buchanania florida, Buchanania lucida
Common Name: Sparrows' Mango, Otak Udang, Katak Udang, Ketak Udang, Puah Pipit, Puan, Terentang Tikus

Buchanania arborescens or Sparrow's Mango is a large tree of up to 35 m tall. It has leathery oval to narrowly egg or drop-shaped leaves, small cream white flowers and red lens-shaped fruit. Sparrow's Mango is often found in parks and large gardens due to its tolerance to roadside conditions, adaptable to a wide range of soils from coastal, sandy to muddy.


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 (Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded, Irregular
Maximum Height 35 m


Native Distribution China, Taiwan, Myanmar, Andaman Islands, Indochina, Thailand, throughout Malesia (including Singapore) to New Britain (Papua New Guinea), Solomons Islands, and Australia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Coastal Forest, Freshwater Swamp Forest, Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Least Concern (LC))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree up to 35 m tall. Buttresses up to 1 m high may also be present sometimes. When the tree is flowering, the plant is easily noticed by its distinct, creamy white coloured crown.
Foliage Its spirally arranged, stalked leaves have leathery leaf blades that are green, oval to narrowly egg-shaped or drop-shaped, and 4–35 by 1.8–9.5 cm, with a blunt tip, and network-like venation.
Flowers Its flowering shoots are 5.5–22 cm long, and bear cream-white flowers.
Fruits Its fruits are lens-shaped, red tinged green, and up to 10 mm wide.
Habitat It grows in lowland secondary forests, along riverbanks, near beaches, peat swamps, and on hills, up to 500 m altitude. It occurs locally in Western Catchment, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Mandai, Nee Soon swamp forest, Pasir Panjang, Sentosa, Pulau Pawai, and Pulau Tekong.
Associated Fauna It is the preferred local food plant for caterpillars of the moth, Phyllocnistis exiguella. Its flowers are insect-pollinated.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Latin Buchanania, after F. Buchanan-Hamilton (d. 1829), a Scottish naturalist who first described but not named any one of these Buchanania trees from Myanmar in 1798; Latin arborescens, referring to the tree-like habit of the plant
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb and Spice)
Medicinal ( Headaches can be treated using a poultice of pounded leaves.)
Timber & Products ( The wood, though of inferior quality, is used for a variety of uses such as boxes, cases, furniture, interior finishing, light construction, joints, roof supports, and veneers.)
Cultural / Religious ( Heritage Tree : There is currently one individual of Buchanania arborescens listed as a Heritage Tree in Singapore. It can be found at Changi. To find out more about this tree, please visit the Heritage Tree Register.)
[Others]: The bark contains a small amount of tannin, and is used to strengthen fishing nets.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping This tree may be suitable for parks and large gardens, and may be able to tolerate roadside conditions. Its cream-white flowers and dense mango-like foliage make it attractive. It can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, so making it suitable for most sites from coastal to inland, sandy to muddy situations.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Form
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses General, Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Coastal, Riverine

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting (Fruits), Caterpillar Moth Food Plant (Leaves)
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

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 Alternate, Spiral
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White, Cream / Off-White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Red
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Non-Accessory Fruit


References Chayamarit, K (2010). Anacardiaceae. Flora of Thailand, 10(3), pp. 270 - 272. Bangkok: Forest Herbarium, Royal Forest Department.

Image Repository



Master ID 1467
Species ID 2760
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: 25 August 2022.

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