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Cynometra browneoides


Cynometra browneoides (Harms) Rados.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Maniltoa browneoides Harms, Pseudocynometra browneoides (Harms) Kuntze, Maniltoa gemmipara Scheff. ex Backer
Common Name: Handkerchief Tree, Pokok sapu tangan


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Small (6m-15m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 12 m


Native Distribution New Guinea
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Foliage Very prominent young flushes which lead this tree to be planted for aesthetic purposes. Young leaves resemble soft white handkerchiefs, hanging vertically downwards from the branches. They take a few days to turn green, harden and become erect. The leaves are pinnately compound, and the mature leaflets have smooth, entire margins.
Flowers The flowers are white with long stamens, borne in large, rounded terminal clusters surrounded by brown, papery bracts. The flowers appear together with the new flushes, and turn rapidly from white to brown once pollinated or damaged. The flowers appear to attract birds such as starlings and sunbirds.
Fruit The fruit is a broad, somewhat flat and slightly beaked, brown pod that contains a single round seed.
Others - Plant Morphology A small to medium sized tree, frequently grown for the prominent young flushes which are white and drooping, giving the appearance of "handkerchiefs", hence the common name. The crown is large, round and fairly dense. Ethnobotanical Use (Other):The timber is quite strong and durable, and is used for making furniture.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Easy to Grow


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) White
Young Flush Texture(s) Thin
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.0 (Tree - Dense Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Texture(s) Thin
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown

Image Repository



Master ID 1722
Species ID 3015
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.