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Afgekia mahidoliae B.L. Burtt & Chermsir.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Common Name: Kan Phai Mahidol, Purple Afgekia
Full Sun Moderate Water Ornamental Flowers Ornamental Leaves Climber, Vine and Liana


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 Climber, Vine & Liana
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 5 m to 10 m


Native Distribution Western Thailand
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Monsoon Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Bushy evergreen leguminous vine with slender woody stems at base, climbing up to 10m height with support.
Foliage Leaves odd-pinnately compound, with 11 opposite leaflets per leaf. Leaflets broadly-oval (7.5cm by 4.3 cm), soft, densely pubescent on both surfaces and along margins, appearing silvery-green on top and pale green below. Young leaflets densely furry, appearing silver-white before unfolding, produced on tomentose twining stems.
Flowers Papilionoid (pea-like), with 5 furry-pubescent purple-white petals -- 1 purple upper-petal ("standard") with pink-yellow nectar guide, 2 purple lateral-petals ("wings") that form a cap over 2 white lower-petals ("keel"), which in turn enclose the reproductive parts within a boat-like structure. Inflorescences raceme, long and many floreted, upper portion purplish-yellow, generally produced near top of plant. Florets open gradually from base to tip of inforescence over a long period, although each floret lasts only for 1 day. Flowering occurs from August to November in native range, but plant is probably quite free-flowering year-round outside of natural habitat, as observed in other cultivated sites in Thailand and Singapore.
Fruits Clustered seedpods, generally produced in low quantities, not commonly seen outside of native range in western Thailand. Fruiting not observed in Singapore.
Habitat Narrowly endemic to western Thailand, found in mixed deciduous forests on limestone hills, first discovered at Sai Yok, Kanchanaburi in 1967 by Thai botanist Kasem Chandraprasong. Species relatively rare, currently threatened by habitat loss, low population densities and difficulty in sexually propagating itself.
Similar Closely resembles Afgekia sericea (Silky Afgekia) -- which can be differentiated by its pink-white inflorescences, as well as smaller and elliptical leaflets (6.5cm by 2.5 cm, 15-17 per leaf) that are even more tomentose and more silvery-white below.
Cultivation Fuss-free and relatively free from pests. Provide regular moisture. Tolerant of alkaline soils. Can be grown as a potted plant by twining the stems around stakes. Propagate by seed (if available), as cuttings appear to be difficult to strike.
Etymology Genus epithet "Afgekia" derived from the name initials of Irish medical doctor and plant-collector Arthur Francis George Kerr (1877-1942), who worked on the taxonomy of Thai flora from 1925 to 1931. Species epithet originally published by Burtt and Chermsirivathana in 1971 as “mahidolae”, whose spelling was recently revised to the current "mahidoliae", as based on the latest version of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN Vienna code, Recommendation 60C.1.b.) Species epithet "mahidoliae" named in honour of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's mother, the Princess Mother Somdej Phra Sri Nakarindra Boromarajajonnani (then Princess Srisangwan Mahidol, wife of Prince Mahidol of Songkla). (Note:- "Mahidol" is pronounced "Mahidon", as the Thai language lacks a pronunciation for the -ol ending.) Prefix of vernacular name "Kan Phai Mahidol" is derived from "Kan Phai" -- a Thai term meaning "protecting from threat", and which is represented as a captivating benovelent vine in Thai religious sacraments. Species adopted by Thailand's Mahidol University as its symbolic plant.
Ethnobotanical Uses [Others]: Plant is being investigated for its potential medicinal properties and applications. Antioxidants previously isolated from leaf extracts.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Alkaline high pH Soils
Landscape Uses Vertical Greenery / Green Wall, Container Planting
Thematic Landscaping Silver Garden, Naturalistic Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Silver / Grey
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose, Hairy / Hirsute, Raised / Sunken Veins
Foliar Type Compound (Odd-Pinnate)
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oval)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Mucronate
Foliar Base Rounded / Obtuse
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 )
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Remarks Silver, White

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Woody, Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Purple, White, Yellow / Golden
Flower Symmetry Bilateral
Individual Flower Shape Papilionaceous / Pea-shaped
Inflorescence Type Raceme
Flowering Period Free-Flowering
Flowering Opening Time Daytime
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Day
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Legume / Pod

Image Repository



Master ID 29169
Species ID 3478
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.

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