Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website


Cleistanthus sumatranus (Miq.) Müll. Arg.

Family Name: Phyllanthaceae
Synonyms: Cleistanthus heterophyllus Hook.f., Cleistanthus laevis Hook.f.
Common Name: 闭花木

Cleistanthus sumatranus is a tree native to Singapore, growing up to 20 m tall. It has egg-shaped leaves and 5-petalled flowers surrounded by whitish-green bracts covered in dense hairs. The fruit is a purplish red capsule with 3 locules up to 1 cm wide. Long straight hairs are dense along the ridges and grooves.

Full Sun Lots of Water Moderate Water Native to Singapore Tree


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 (Medium (16m-30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 20 m


Native Distribution Malay Peninsula, Singapore, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Philippines, Maluku, Lesser Sunda Islands, Vietnam and China
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Monsoon Forest, Freshwater Swamp Forest, Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Vulnerable (VU))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a shrub or tree that can grow to 20 m high with brown or greyish brown bark.
Foliage Leaves are leathery, egg-shaped, 1.5 - 10 cm long by 0.5 - 4 cm wide. The leaves are glossy, green above, pale green to bluish green below.
Flowers Flowers are 5-petalled, growing on the axils or on branches in clusters supported by many whitish-green bracts covered in dense hairs. The female flowers are 4 - 5mm wide while the male flowers are 5 - 6 mm wide.
Fruits The fruit consist of 3 locules up to 1 cm wide. It is covered in long straight hairs along the ridges and grooves, ripening from green to purplish-red colour. Each contain up to 2 brown and triangular seeds.
Habitat Occurs in mixed deciduous forest, dry dipterocarp forest, dry and moist evergreen forest, always by streams, altitude up to 775m.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are insect-pollinated.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Greek Cleistanthus, hidden flower, referring to the flowers which are hidden by modified leaves; sumatranus, from Sumatra, referring to one locality in the natural distribution of the plant species

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for parks and gardens.
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses General, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Riverine

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 Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Cuneate, Rounded / Obtuse, Truncate / Square
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.0 (Tree - Dense Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

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

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Unisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Monoecious
Flower Colour(s) White, Green - Light Green
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, Purple
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Capsule
Mature Seed Colour(s) Brown


References van Welzen, P.C. & Esser, H. (2005) Cleistanthus. In: Chayamarit, K. & van Welzen, P.C.. Euphorbiaceae (Genera A-F). Flora of Thailand, 8(1): 169−182.

Image Repository



Master ID 1519
Species ID 2812
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: 09 December 2022.