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Pterospermum acerifolium


Pterospermum acerifolium (L.) Willd.

Family Name: Malvaceae
Synonyms: Cavanilla acerifolia (L.) J.F.Gmel., Dombeya acerifolia (L.) Gaertn., Pentapetes acerifolia L., Pterospermadendron acerifolium (L.) Kuntze
Common Name: Dinnerplate Tree, Maple-Leafed Bayur Tree, 翅子树

Pterospermum acerifolium is a tree, up to 30 m tall. The leaves are variable and they can be orbicular, oblong, obovate or even palmately lobed. The upper surface of the leaf is usually green while the underside is yellowish brown and hairy. Prized for its large fragrant flowers, it is cultivated for ornamental purpose.


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 30 m


Native Distribution From India to Malesia.
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree which can reach up to 30 m tall and the trunk can reach up to 0.6 m diameter. Bark is grey.
Foliage The leaves are variable. They can be orbicular to oblong to obovate (or even palmately lobed) and can reach 18 – 30 cm long and 14 – 20 cm wide. They are leathery and alternate or spirally arranged. The leaf margin is entire or slightly wavy (repand) or occasionally broadly toothed. The upper surface of the leaf is usually chestnut green (occasionally olive-coloured) and nearly hairless (glabrescent) while the underside is yellowish brown (occasionally white when newly emerged) and densely covered with brown simple woolly hairs interspersed with yellow stellate hairs. Stipules are persistent, about 1.2 – 2 cm long and divided into 2 – 5 parts. The leaf stalk (petiole) is 2 – 5 cm long and covered with chestnut-coloured hairs. The leaf stalk position on the leaf varies from marginal to peltate. When the leaf stalk is marginal, the leaf base is cordate. When the leaf stalk is peltate, the leaf base is rounded.
Flowers Inflorescence occur as a flat-topped cluster (cyme) at the axillary position. The inflorescence comprises of 1 - 3 large white flowers which are fragrant. The flowers are bisexual. Each flower has 5 white petals (10 – 11 cm long), stamens, and an ellipsoid ovary. Sepals are thick, fleshy and densely hairy. They split into 5-parts and curl backwards as the flower opens.
Fruit The fruit is large, woody, angular and spindle-shaped (fusiform), reaching up to 15 cm long and 6.5 cm diameter. They turn dark brown to black and split into five parts when ripe. The seeds are winged and thin, reaching up to 3 – 6 cm long and 1.5 -1.7 cm wide.
Habitat It is found in limestone, mixed dipterocarp and secondary forests, up to 1000 m altitude.
Associated Fauna The flowers could be pollinated by bats.
Etymology Genus epithet ‘Pterospermum’, in Greek, means winged seed, which refers to shape of the seed. Specific epithet ‘acerifolium’, in Latin, means maple-like leaf, which refers to the shape of the leaf.
Ethnobotanical Uses Timber & Products: The wood is used for construction.
Others: The tree is prized for its large ornamental and fragrant flowers.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Fragrant, Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Flowers
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)

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
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery, Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate, Spiral
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.0 (Tree - Dense Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Root Type Underground

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Inflorescence Type Cyme

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown, Black
Fruit Type Dehiscent Dry Fruit


References Ganesan, S.K., Middleton, D.J., and Wilkie, P. (2020). A revision of Pterospermum (Malvaceae: Dombeyoideae) in Malesia. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 77 (2): 161 – 241 

Image Repository



Master ID 1803
Species ID 3096
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: 10 November 2023.