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Dillenia excelsa var. excelsa


Dillenia excelsa (Jack) Gilg var. excelsa

Family Name: Dilleniaceae
Common Name: Purple Simpoh, Simpoh Inggu, Simpoh Lak


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Medium (16m-30m), Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Columnar, Irregular
Maximum Height 25 m


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

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Medium-sized riverine tree, up to 25m height, with bushy columnar crown.
Foliage Leaves medium-large (15-30cm long), glossy green, prominently-veined, with slightly serrate margins, lacking stipules at blade-petiole junction. Young leaves reddish. Species is deciduous in regions with seasonally-dry climates.
Flowers Large (8-10cm across) and showy, petals bright yellow, typically 5 nos., with pinkish recurved apical stigma in centre, contrasted by numerous dark to purplish-red taller inner stamens, surrounded by shorter and more reflexed yellow outer stamens. Produced singly or in few-numbered clusters, upward-facing. Unopened buds enveloped by fleshy dark red to reddish-green sepals. Flowers open early in morning and last for 1 day, with petals being shed by late afternoon or evening. Rich in honey and pollinated mainly by Apis dorsata (Honey Bee).
Fruit Dehiscent follicles (around 3cm across), ripening to translucent white and splitting to reveal star-shaped whitish interior, pulp-free, lined with brown seeds covered by red aril. Seeds and aril eaten by birds.
Others - Plant Morphology Local Conservation Status: Native, critically endangered.
Habitat Mid-canopy tree of primary and secondary rainforests, occurring mainly on wet alluvial sites (freshwater swamps and periodically flooded riverbanks), sometimes on ridges and hillsides.
Cultivation Hardy tree. Withstands sandy to clayey, and even alkaline limestone soils. Avoid planting too deep or having soil piled on top of rootzone, as species does not tolerate root burial or compaction. Propagate by seeds or stem cuttings (which strike easily -- fencing made from cut trunks or branches have been known to sprout luxuriantly.)
Etymology Genus epithet 'Dillenia' named by Linnaeus in honor of Johann Jakob Dillen (Dillenius, 1684-1747), esteemed German physician, botanist and professor at University of Oxford. Species epithet 'excelsa' means 'tall', alluding to the tree's height.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb and Spice)
Others: Medicinal: Plant sap used to treat chest infections. Young leaves used as poultice for swelling. Timber: Wood used for pilings, railway sleepers, fencing, plywood, interior joinery and panelling. Not durable and should be treated.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for planting along roadsides, in parks and gardens for its bright yellow flowers, rand eddish young foliage.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Fruits
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, General, Riverine
Thematic Landscaping Water Garden, Bioswales / Sunken Garden, Naturalistic Garden
Plant & Rootzone Preference or Tolerance Remarks Sandy, clayey soils

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna) (Aaptos suberitoides. Seeds eaten by birds)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Alkaline high pH Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site)
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Leathery, Raised / Sunken Veins
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Red
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Serrate / Toothed
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Typical Foliar Area Macrophyll ( 182.25cm2 - 1640.25 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 (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Red, Yellow / Golden
Flower Symmetry Radial
Inflorescence Type Raceme
Flowering Period Free-Flowering
Flowering Opening Time Daytime
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Day
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

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

Image Repository



Master ID 29066
Species ID 3383
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: 31 October 2022.