Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website

Magnolia champaca


Magnolia champaca (L.) Figlar

Family Name: Magnoliaceae
Synonyms: Michelia champaca
Common Name: Champaca, Champak, Cempaka Merah, Yellow Champaka, Orange Chempaca, Chempaca Merah, Sapu, Cempaka Kuning, Orange Champak, Cempaka Putih, Orange Champaka, 黄兰

A charismatic tall tree that produces fragrant yellow flowers throughout the year. These flowers are rich in essential oil, often used for perfumery and religious offerings.


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Tree
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Conical
Maximum Height 50 m


Native Distribution From India, southwestern China, Indochina to Malesia (Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, Java, Lesser Sunda Islands).
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It can a free flowering tree, up to 30 – 50 m tall, and 183 – 190 cm diameter. Trunk is straight and columnar with smooth grey bark. Crown is cylindrical or conical.
Foliage Leaf is elliptic or narrowly ovate (10 – 35 cm long by 4 – 11 cm wide), spirally arranged and slightly hairy on the underside. Leaf tip is short while leaf base is cuneate to rounded. There are 14 – 23 pairs of secondary veins which can be seen more visibly on the underside of the leaf. Petiole 1.5-3.5 (4) cm long. Stipules (up to 6.5 cm long) is hairy and attached to petiole for at least 0.7 – 3.9 cm long, leaving a ring-like stipular scar on the branches when it fallen.
Flowers Occurring singly on leaf axils or pseudo-axillary on brachyblasts, flower is fragrant, light yellow when young and becoming orange-yellow as it matures. Each flower is about 2 - 4.5 cm long, comprising of 5 tepals in several inconspicuous whorls where the outermost tepals are obovate and innermost tepals are narrower. Brachyblast is densely pubescent, with 2 (-3) nodes (0.5-) 1-1.8(-2.5) cm long. Stamen is 0.6 - 0.8 cm long, with connective appendages up to 0.1 cm long.
Fruit Fruit are borne on a spiral cluster (6 – 30 cm long) which hangs down. Each cluster consist of 6 – 40 individual fruit. Each fruit is 1.5 – 2 cm long, woody and pale brown with large cream coloured lenticels. Ripe fruit splits open to reveal 2 – 6 seeds inside. Seed is covered with red or pink flesh and hang freely on a thin white thread.
Habitat It is found in evergreen forest, up to 800 m altitude.
Associated Fauna Flowers are pollinated by beetles, and seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals.
Taxonomy There are two varieties, namely Magnolia champaca var. champaca and Magnolia champaca var. pubinervia. The former usually grow up to 2 – 5 (-30) m tall and 50 cm wide, while the latter usually grow up to 50 m tall and 180 cm wide.
Etymology Latin Magnolia, commemorates Pierre Magnol (1638 – 1715), a French professor of Botany. Latin champaca, refers to its Sankrit name Campaka.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal: In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, an infusion of bitter bark is consumed to reduce fever while leaves made into tea to relieve cough and tonsillitis Flowers and buds are believed to have antiseptic properties and are applied externally to wounds or inflammation.  
Timber & Products: Wood is light and durable, and can be used as timber for furniture, door panels, cabinets, sacred cravings such as bead chains, as well as coffins too.
Cut - Dried Flower: Flowers are rich in essential oil and used for perfumes and hair oil.
Cultural / Religious: The flowers are also used for Hindu and Buddhist religious offerings.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Flowers) (Time Independent, Day)
Landscape Uses Suitable for Roadsides
Thematic Landscaping Fragrant / Aromatherapy Garden
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird-Attracting
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting, Air-Layering


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Hairy / Hirsute
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Spiral
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire - Wavy / Undulate
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Acute, Rounded / Obtuse
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
Mature Bark Texture Smooth

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual Flowers , Monoecious
Flower Colour(s) Orange, Yellow / Golden
Flowering Period Free-Flowering

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Red
Fruit Type Dehiscent Dry Fruit , Capsule


References Gardner, S., Sidisunthorn, P., & Chayamarit, K. (2016). Forest Trees of Southern Thailand. Volume 1. Bangkok. Kobfai Publishing Project. 792pp. 

Nooteboom, H.P. (1985). Notes on Magnoliaceae with a revision of Pachylarnax and Elmerrillia and the Malesian species of Manglietia and Michelia. Blumea 31(1): 65-121.

 Nooteboom, H.P. & Chalermglin, P. (2009). The Magnoliaceae of Thailand. Thailand Forestry Bulletin (Botany) (37): 111-138. 

Nooteboom, H.P. (1988). Magnoliaceae. Flora Malesiana series 1 vol 10 (3): 561-605 

Image Repository



Master ID 1732
Species ID 3025
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: 18 February 2022.