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Kopsia singapurensis


Kopsia singapurensis Ridl.

Family Name: Apocynaceae
Common Name: Singapore Kopsia, White Kopsia, Selada

Kopsia singapurensis is native to Singapore. Its fragrant red and white flower bear the same colours as Singapore’s national flag. While the Singapore flag depicts five stars, the five petals of Kopsia singapurensis are fused (or whimsically ‘united’) at the base. The species is hardy and tolerates waterlogged soils, but is critically endangered in Singapore due to habitat loss.


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 Shrub, Tree (Small (6m-15m), Shrubby (1m-5m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded, Conical
Maximum Height 5 m to 8 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 6 m to 8 m


Native Distribution Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Riverine, Freshwater Swamp Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a small evergreen tree up to 12 m tall with a conical crown. Its slightly flaky bark is greyish to light silvery brownish. White latex is produced on cut surfaces.
Foliage Its opposite, stalked leaves have rather leathery to leathery leaf blades that are about 6.1–26 by 2.7–11.4 cm. The oval leaf blades are gradually narrowed to a blunt tip of 1.3 cm long.
Flowers Its flowering clusters are 3.5–12.5 cm long. Its flowers are white, each with 5 petals that are fused to form a tube and 5 free lobes. The throat of the tube is red. The flowers are usually 2.5–3.8 cm wide, but they can reach up to 7.6 cm.
Fruit Its dull red fruits are flattened, somewhat triangular in shape, and up to 1.9 cm wide.
Others - Plant Morphology Species endemic to lowland and freshwater swamp forests of Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia. Threatened with habitat loss and categorized as "Critically Endangered" in Singapore. Historical significance: Used as a substitute for ceremonial ribbon during opening of rebuilt herbarium in Singapore Botanic Gardens in 1964.Hardy plant tolerant of waterlogged soils. Suitable as big shrub or small tree for screening and hedge. Cut surfaces produce white latex.
Habitat It grows in lowland evergreen forest, swamp forest and on river banks, up to 600 m in altitude. It occurs locally in Nee Soon Swamp Forest.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed and stem cutting.
Etymology Latin Kopsia, commemorating J. Kops, a Dutch botanist; Latin singapurensis, from Singapore, referring to one locality in the natural distribution of this species

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for parks and waterlogged areas.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Flowers)
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, General, Riverine, Shade Providing Tree / Palm, Hedge / Screening, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Marsh / Bog
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment
Usage Hazard - Cons Irritant - Sap
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Latext from cut plant surfaces may be toxic.
Plant & Rootzone Preference or Tolerance Remarks Tolerant of most types of soils, especially waterlogged soils.

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

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

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water, Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Easy to Grow, Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Pruning Periodic pruning needed to prevent crown from becoming untidy.
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oblong, Oval)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Cuspidate
Foliar Base Acute
Typical Foliar Area Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root, Tap Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Red, White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Trumpet-shaped
Inflorescence Type Cyme
Flowering Period Free-Flowering
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Day
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Red
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Drupe

Image Repository



Master ID 1694
Species ID 2987
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: 15 February 2022.