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Gmelina elliptica Sm.

Family Name: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Synonyms: Gmelina villosa Roxb. ex Jack, Gmelina tonkinensis Moldenke, Gmelina tomentosa H.R.Fletcher, Gmelina integrifolia W.Hunter, Gmelina asiatica var. villosa (Roxb. ex Jack) Bakh., Gmelina asiatica f. inermis Moldenke
Common Name: Bulang, Common Bulang, Bulangan, Bulongan, Bulang Gajah, Bulang Hutan, Bulang Kecil, Pukang Mata Hari
Full Sun Moderate Water Native to Singapore Coastal Plant Suitable for Roadsides Ornamental Flowers Ornamental Leaves Shrub 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 (Shrubby (1m-5m), Small (6m-15m)), Shrub
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 10 m


Native Distribution Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Secondary Rainforest, Coastal Forest, Disturbed Area / Open Ground)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Endangered (EN))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a thorny, scrambling, evergreen shrub or small tree that can grow up to 10 m tall.
Foliage Its opposite, stalked leaves have leaf blades that are oval or egg-shaped, not covered with hair above, densely covered with hair and greyish-white below, 1.9–9 by 1.3–6.4 cm, and with tiny green glands at the base.
Flowers Its flowers are in flowering shoots that are up to 10 cm long. Its flowers are clear yellow, bell-shaped with 4 lobes, and 3.8 cm long.
Fruits Its fruits are drupes, partially round, yellow with a watery flesh, and 1.9–2.5 cm in diameter.
Habitat It grows in villages, open secondary vegetation, and along coastals, up to 500 m altitude.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Latin Gmelina, given in honour of Johann Gottlieb Gmelin (1709–1755), a German traveller and naturalist; Latin elliptica, elliptic, referring to the shape of its leaf blades
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal ( Its leaves are a laxative, and are rubbed on gums to treat toothache. The leaves or roots are applied to wounds. The roots are shredded with a grater or shark’s skin, and mixed with the urine of young children, and this is used to treat headaches, skin-related ailments, and rheumatism. Its roots are also mixed with lime to treat swellings, and is used for anemia, and also applied on the head for the prevention of hair loss. The fruit pulp, together with garlic and lime, is used on the body for dropsy. The skins of the fruits are made into sweetmeat. Roasted fruits are used against itching of the feet. An extraction of slightly crushed fruits is used as an eye lotion. Juice from the fruits or leaves are used as ear drops to treat earache.)
[Others]: It is cultivated as a hedge.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable as hedge plant.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses General, Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Coastal, Hedge / Screening

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

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

Plant Care and Propagation

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


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oval, Elliptical)
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) Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Individual Flower Shape Campaulate / Bell-shaped

Fruit, Seed and Spore

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

Image Repository



Master ID 1648
Species ID 2941
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: 08 December 2022.