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Erythrophleum suaveolens (Guill. & Perr.) Brenan

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Erythrophleum guineense G. Don, Fillaea
Common Name: Ordeal Tree, Red Water Tree, Sasswood, Sassy Bark
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Roadside Tree / Palm Fragrant Tree


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

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 Tropical Africa
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status 1 Exotic (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a medium to large sized tree, up to 20 (- 30) m tall.
Foliage Its stalked, alternately arranged, pinnate leaves are twice-pinnate, with 2-3 pairs of pinnae, and about 7-13 leaflets at each pinna. Leaflets are large, ovate in shape, about 5 cm long and 2.5 cm wide.
Flowers Its cream coloured to yellow flowers are borne on stalked inflorescences.
Fruits Its fruit is a hard and flat woody pod.
Habitat It grows in tropical lowland forests along streams.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are pollinated by insects.
Cultivation It can be propagated from seed.
Etymology Greek, Erythrophleum, red sap, referring to the red sap in the species Erythrophleum suaveolens. Latin suaveolens, sweetly-scented, referring to the flowers.
Ethnobotanical Uses Cultural / Religious ( Heritage Tree :                                                   There is currently one individual of Erythrophleum suaveolens listed as a Heritage Tree in Singapore. It can be found in Upper Seletar Reservoir Park. To find out more about this tree, please visit the Heritage Tree Register. )

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for planting along streetscapes and in parks for its spreading canopy which provides shade.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Form, Fragrant (Flowers)
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Riverine, Shade Providing Tree / Palm

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery
Foliar Type Compound
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate)
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 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary

Fruit, Seed & Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Legume / Pod

Image Repository



Master ID 1589
Species ID 2882
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 April 2020.