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Peronema canescens


Peronema canescens Jack

Family Name: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Synonyms: Peronema heterophyllum Miq.
Common Name: Sungkai, False Elder, Kurus, Jati Sabrang, Sukai, Cherek

Peronema canescens, also known as Sungkai, is a tree which is native to Singapore. Growing up to 35 m tall, it has compound leaves with distinct winged rachis. Young leaves may appear purplish and turn green when mature. The timber is both strong and attractive. It is often used to make roof trusses, bridges, furniture, cabinets and even veneer.


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 Irregular
Maximum Height 10 m to 35 m


Native Distribution Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Presumed Nationally Extinct (NEx))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree, about 10 – 35 m tall and up to 1.2 m wide, with buttresses. The small branches have distinct interpetiolar ridge. The bark is grey-brown, shallowly fissured and scaly.
Foliage The leaves can reach (15 -) 25 to 30 (-90) cm long and are pinnately compound with 4 – 19 leaflets. Each leaflet is elliptic to lanceolate (2.5 – 35 cm long and 1 – 7.5 cm wide) with 10 – 30 pairs of lateral veins which are prominently visible on the underside. The leaflet base is wedged-shaped (cuneate), sometimes asymmetrical, while the leaflet tip is tapering (acuminate). The rachis is often winged and the leaf stalk is 3 – 5 (-18) cm long. Young leaves may appear purplish and the hairs on the underside of the leaflets are dull red-brown. Mature leaflets are glabrous on the upper surface while the underside is covered with greyish hairs. The leaflet margin is toothed (serrate) when young and becomes entire as it matures.
Flowers Flowers occur in a cluster as a panicle inflorescence at the terminal or axillary position. Inflorescence is branched, reaching to 25 – 60 cm long. The flower is small, white to greenish white with a tinge of purple at the margin.
Fruit The fruit is dry, capsular and mostly round, about 3 – 3.5 mm diameter. It is covered with long soft hairs (villose) and splits open when mature.
Habitat It is found in rainforest and disturbed areas, often near streams, from 30 – 900 m altitude.
Associated Fauna Flowers are pollinated by insects.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology In Greek, peros means disabled and nema means thread. They refer to the two reduced thread-like stamens. The specific epithet canescens means greyish in Latin.

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Well-Drained Soils


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Purple
Foliar Type Compound
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Cuneate, Oblique / Asymmetrical
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 Scaly, Fissured
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal, Axillary

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Dehiscent Dry Fruit , Capsule
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Few (1-5)


References Bramley, G.L.C. (2019). Lamiaceae. In: van Welzen, P.C. (ed.) Flora Malesiana, ser. 1, vol. 23, pp. 1–424. Leiden: Naturalis Biodiversity Center. 

Lemmens, R.H.M.J. and Soerianegara, I. (eds). (1993). Plant Resources of South-East Asia Volume 5 (1). Timber trees: Major commercial timbers. Indonesia: Prosea Foundation. 610 pages.

Image Repository



Master ID 1767
Species ID 3060
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: 28 February 2023.