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Saraca indica


Saraca indica L.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Common Name: Asoka Tree, Ashoka Tree, Sorrowless Tree, Gapis, 无忧树, 印度无忧树

Saraca indica or Asoka Tree, is a tree prized for its large clusters of vibrant flowers. The colours of the flowers vary widely, ranging from orange-yellow to red. Found naturally in rainforests along streams and rivers, it thrives in cultivation when grown under full sunlight and fertile, well-drained soil.


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 Tree
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 24 m


Native Distribution Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree, up to 24 m tall. The trunk can reach up to 34 cm in diameter.
Foliage Leaves are compound and paripinnate. Each leaf has (1–) 2 – 4 (– 7) pairs of leaflets. Leaflet is elliptic-ovate to lanceolate, measuring (5–) 15 – 20 (– 30) long and (1.5–) 3.5 – 6 (– 11) cm wide. The leaflet tip is sharply pointed (acute) to obtuse while the base is rounded, cordate or wedged shaped. The pair of leaflets closed to the leaf stalk is usually smaller than the rest of the leaflets. Young leaves flush white, pink or purple and hang pendulously like a tassel. They gradually turn green as they mature.
Flowers Inflorescence is branched (corymb), measuring 3 – 15 (– 20) cm wide, and usually comprises of a blend of various colours simultaneously. The flower’s colour is variable, ranging from orange-yellow, deep orange, purple and red, and may have a darker eye in the center. Each flower is accompanied by a slightly upright and spreading bracteole (0.3 – 0.8 cm long) which can persist or fall off during flower maturity. The flower stalk spans about (0.4 –) 1.2 – 2 (– 3.5) cm long. Each flower has (5 –) 6 – 8 (– 10) stamens. The filament, especially the basal parts, are often covered with fine hairs. The flowers may have a subtle fragrance. The tree is observed to bloom several times a year in Singapore.
Fruit The woody fruit pod is oval or oblong-lanceolate (about 6 – 25 cm long and 2 – 6 cm wide) with a beaked tip (about 1 cm long). Fruit pods coil and split into two when ripe.
Habitat It is found in tropical forests and swamp forests, often along streams and occasionally on limestone, up to 900 m altitude.
Associated Fauna It is pollinated by insects.
Etymology The genus epithet is derived from the Indian Sanskrit name Asoka. The specific epithet, in Latin, refers to India, one of the locations previously thought to be its place of origin.
Ethnobotanical Uses Timber & Products: The wood is sometimes used to make small utensils, pallets, veneer and plywood.
Others: It is commonly cultivated in Singapore for its ornamental flowers. In Thailand, the flowers are sometimes eaten by indigenous villagers and said to taste sourish. <2>

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is commonly cultivated in Singapore for its ornamental flowers.
Desirable Plant Features Fragrant, Ornamental Flowers
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, General, Parks & Gardens
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bee-Attracting
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery, Papery
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, Pink, Purple
Foliar Type Compound
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute, Obtuse
Foliar Base Cordate, Cuneate, Rounded / Obtuse
Typical Foliar Area Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.0 (Tree - Dense Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

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

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Orange, Red, Yellow / Golden, Purple
Flowering Period A Few Times Yearly
Flowering Habit Polycarpic
Inflorescence Size Remarks Yellow (when young) to orange to red

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Dehiscent Dry Fruit , Legume / Pod



<1> Ding, Hou., Leiden, K., Larsen, K. & Larsen, S.S. (1996). Caesalpinioideae (LeguminosaeCaesalpinioideae). Flora Malesiana Series 1 Vol 12 (2) pg 409 – 730.

<2> Larsen, K., Larsen, S.S., and Vidal, J.E. (1984). Leguminosae–Caesalpinioideae. In: Smitinand, T. & Larsen, K. (eds) Flora of Thailand. Vol. 4 (1), pp. 1 – 129. Bangkok: The Forest Herbarium, Royal Forest Department.

<3> Whitmore, T.C. (1972). Leguminosae. In: Whitmore, T.C. (ed) Tree Flora of Malaya: A Manual for Foresters, vol. 1. Kuala Lumpur: Longman Sdn. Bhd.

<4> Zuijderhoudt, G.F.P (1967). A revision of the genus Saraca L. (Leguminnosae – Caesalpiniaceae). Blumea 15 (2): 413-425. 


Image Repository



Master ID 1820
Species ID 3113
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: 17 April 2024.