Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website

Sterculia macrophylla


Sterculia macrophylla Vent.

Family Name: Malvaceae
Common Name: Broad-leaved Sterculia, Kelumpang, Melian


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Tiered
Maximum Height 40 m


Native Distribution Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Freshwater Swamp Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a big, pagoda-shaped tree that can grow up to 40 m tall, with buttress root up to 3 m tall, and will shed its leaves annually.
Trunk Straight, tall trunk has light grey, smooth bark.
Foliage Its spirally arranged, stalked leaves have papery to leathery leaf blades that are densely softly hairy below, broad-egg-shaped to heart-shaped, 12–40 by 10–35 cm, with 6–10 pairs of side veins, and prominent venation underneath. Young leaves are palmately lobed, reddish and densely hairy.
Flowers The plant is monoecious, producing both unisexual and bisexual flowers. The tiny flowers are about 0.5 cm across, greenish-yellow or red, and occur on many-flowered flowering clusters that are 15–40 cm long.
Fruit Its fruit is a seed-pod (follicle) that will split open along a single side when dry. 1–5 follicles occur in a cluster. Each follicle is round or ellipsoid, 3.5–6 by 2.5–5 cm, red to dark brown, velvety, and contains 1–9 seeds. Each seed is black, ellipsoid, and about 12–20 by 8–12 mm.
Habitat It grows in both primary and secondary lowland forest, and swamp forest, up to 900 m altitude. In Singapore, it can be found in Nee Soon Swamp Forest.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are pollinated by insects. Seeds can be eaten by squirrels, and are probably dispersed by birds.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Latin stercus (derived from Greek Sterculius, god of fertilization), dung, referring to the smell of flowers; Greek macrophylla, large leaf, referring to the species’ large leaf blades
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal: The seeds are said to possess medicinal properties.
Timber & Products: It is harvested for timber to be used for planking or making canoes.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping The tree is suitable for cultivation in parks and is able to  tolerate roadside conditions. It is also able to withstand waterlogged soils. The plant has an attractive tiered shape crown, spectacular pink inflorescences and stunning red fruits.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Fruits, Ornamental Form
Landscape Uses General, Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Riverine, Pond / Lake / River, Marsh / Bog, Shade Providing Tree / Palm, Focal Plant
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden, Water Garden, Marsh Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

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

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water, Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site, Does not Drain Site), Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils


Foliage Retention Deciduous
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose, Papery, Leathery
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Red
Young Flush Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate, Cordate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual & Bisexual Flowers(Sub-dioecious)
Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden, Pink
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Orange, Red
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Dehiscent Dry Fruit , Follicle

Image Repository



Master ID 1845
Species ID 3138
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: 14 October 2021.