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Calophyllum inophyllum L.

Family Name: Calophyllaceae
Synonyms: Balsamaria inophyllum Lour., Calophyllum ovatifolium Noronha,, Calophyllum bingator Roxb., Calophyllum blumei Wight, Calophyllum spurium Choisy, Calophyllum wakamatsui Kaneh.
 
Common Name: Penaga Laut, Bintangor Laut, Borneo Mahogany, Alexandrine Laurel, Alexandrian Laurel, Alexandra Laurel, Indian Laurel, Laurel Wood, Beauty Leaf, Nyamplung, Penaga, Bodek Laut, Paku Achu, Bintangur Bunga, 红厚壳, 琼崖海棠树

Calophyllum inophyllum, also known as Penaga Laut, is a tree with glossy oval shaped leaves, sweet-scented white flowers and round green fruits. It provides shade and has many local uses as a source of dye, oil, timber and medicine.

Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Native to Singapore Herb & Spice Coastal Roadside Tree / Palm Ornamental Flowers Tree

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Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Tree
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 30 m

Biogeography

Native Distribution From East Africa to Australia
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree, up to 30 m tall. It forms low branches and does not have buttress roots. The bark is fissured, grey to brown coloured on the outside and pink on the inside. It produces clear yellow sticky latex when cut.
Foliage The leaves are oval shaped (8 - 15 cm long and 8 cm wide), glossy and are in opposite arrangement. The leaf has rounded or notched tips while the base is cuneate or rounded. Distinct on both surfaces, the lateral veins are dense and uniformly parallel. The petiole is about 1 – 2 cm long.
Flowers The inflorescence is 5 – 10 cm long and occurs at the axis (axillary). Each inflorescence consists of 5 – 15 white flowers with 40 – 250 yellow stamens and globose ovary. The flowers are reportedly sweet-scented but the fragrance only last for a day.
Fruits The fruit is round (2 – 4 cm in diameter) and contains one seed within. The seed is surrounded by a spongy layer which is buoyant in water. The fruit is green and may become brownish when ripe.
Habitat The tree is found in rocky and sandy shores, as well as coastal forest, up to 200 m altitude. It occurs locally in Pulau Seletar and Pulau Ubin.
Associated Fauna The flowers are insect pollinated. The fruits are usually dispersed by sea currents. There are records of bats feeding on the fruits and dispersing the seeds.
Cultivation It is a slow-growing tree that provides shade.
Etymology The genus Calophyllum, in Greek, means beautiful leaf. The specific epithet inophyllum, in Greek, refers to the closely nerved leaves.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb and Spice)
Cultural / Religious ( Heritage Tree : There are 3 individuals of Calophyllum inophyllum listed as Heritage Trees in Singapore. They are found all over various parts of Singapore. To find out more about these trees, please visit the Heritage Tree Register.)
[Others]: It has many local uses as a source of dye, oil, timber and medicine. The timber is strong and durable, so it is used in bridge construction, boat building and furniture making. In Java, the oil extracted from the seeds is used along with the latex to dye batik cloth. Almost all parts of the plant are used for many medicinal uses due the presence of saponins and hydrocyanic acid.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Well-Drained Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray
Landscape Uses Coastal, Roadside Tree / Palm

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

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

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Slow

Foliar

Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny, Leathery
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Spiral
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oval)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Rounded
Foliar Base Rounded / Obtuse
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Tubular
Inflorescence Type Panicle
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Green
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Smooth

References

References Tomlinson, P.B. (2016) The Botany of Mangroves. 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom. 
Byrne, C., Parnell, J.A.N., & Chayamarit, K. (2018). Systematics of the Thai Calophyllaceae and Hypericaceae with comments on the Kielmeyeroidae (Clusiaceae). Thailand Forest Bulletin (Botany), Vol 46 (2), Pg 162 - 216. 
Keng, H. (1990). The Concise Flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons, Singapore: Singapore University Press. 
George, A.S., Orchard, A.E. & Hewson, H.J. (eds.) (1993)., Flora of Australia, Oceanic islands 2, Vol 50:1-606. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
Gardner, S., Sidisunthorn, P. & Chayamarit, K. (2015). Forest Trees of Southern Thailand. Volume 1 (A–Es). The Forest Herbarium, Bangkok, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. xix + 1–749. 
Henderson, M.R. & Wyatt-Smith, J. (1956). Calophyllum Linn. Gard. Bull. Singapore 15: 285–375. 
 

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Master ID 1481
Species ID 2774
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: 20 August 2021.
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