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Bhesa robusta (Roxb.) Ding Hou

Family Name: Celastraceae
Synonyms: Kurrimia pulcherrima Wall. ex Laws, Kurrimia robusta Kurz
Common Name: Red-Flowered Malayan Spindle Tree, biku-biku, buku-buku, medang buaya, membatu merah, pauh-pauh, sepauh, 膝柄木
Full Sun: 6-8h Semi-Shade Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Native to Singapore Tree


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded, Broad / Mushroom / Hemispherical
Maximum Height 40 m


Native Distribution Northeast India, Myanmar, Thailand, Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and Borneo
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Freshwater Swamp Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Vulnerable (VU))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree up to 40 m tall, with brown bark, and buttresses up to 4 m tall.
Roots It has huge buttresses up to 4 m tall.
Foliage Its spirally arranged, stalked leaves have leaf blades that are oval or oblong, 6–16 by 2.5–8.5 cm, and slightly swollen at the apex.
Flowers Its almost sessile flowers are arranged in a cluster of about 15 cm long, with red petals.
Fruits Its olive-yellow fruits are unlobed, egg-shaped, and with 2 vertical grooves and a pointed tip. They are also 3–3.5 by 1–1.3 cm and usually contain one seed. Its oblong brown seeds are covered completely, or sometimes only the lower part, with pulp. Its seeds are about 1–2 cm long.
Habitat It grows in primary lowland forests, up to 1,075 m altitude, on clay-rich soil. It is also sometimes found in periodically inundated forests. It occurs locally along Hendon Road.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are insect-pollinated. The fruits are eaten by frugivorous birds and mammals.
Etymology Pali Bhesa, referring to the resin of false myrrh; Latin robusta, stout, or strong in growth, the reference to which is unknown
Ethnobotanical Uses Timber & Products ( The timber is used for the construction of houses, beams and cabinets.)
Cultural / Religious ( Heritage Tree :                          There is currently one individual of Bhesa robusta listed as a Heritage Tree in Singapore. It can be found on Sentosa. To find out more about this tree, please visit the Heritage Tree Register.)

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It may be suitable for parks.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses General, Parks & Gardens
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting (Fruits)
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee), Insects (Ant, Beetle, Fly, Thrip, Wasp))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna) (Vertebrates (Other Mammal))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oval, Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Red
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Inflorescence Size - Length 15
Inflorescence Size - Unit cm

Fruit, Seed & Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Green, Yellow / Golden
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Smooth
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Mature Seed Colour(s) Brown
Seed Description Its seeds are about 1–2 cm long.
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Few (1-5)

Image Repository



Master ID 1990
Species ID 3282
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: 20 April 2020.

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