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Mitrephora keithii Ridley

Family Name: Annonaceae
Synonyms: Mitrephora lophophora
Full Sun Semi Shade Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Plant Fragrant Plant Ornamental Flowers Shrub Tree


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Shrubby (1m-5m)), Shrub
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 2 m to 4 m


Native Distribution Thailand
Preferred Climate Zone Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Small tree or big shrub, up to 4m height. Crown spreading, with branches held stiffly at an angle.
Foliage Mature leaves light green and glabrous, abaxial midvein very slightly rusty-tomentose, abaxial lateral veins inconspicuous; leaf buds and young leaves furry rusty-brown.
Flowers Fragrant, 2.5-3.0cm across, 3 outer petals: yellow, recurved towards flower centre, slightly tomentose outside, shiny glabrous on the inside, 3 inner petals: paler yellow with blushes of red, fused into a dome over the reproductive organs (numerous yellow stamens) below. Held on short pedicels (flower stalks), produced in small extra-axillary clusters, but open singly at any one time. Pistil simple, consisting of apocarpous (unjoined) carpels. Flowers protogynous, transitioning from from female to male phase, upon which stigma (central part of flower) changes from yellow to orange. Relatively free-flowering under local conditions.
Fruits Produced in clusters of 8-10 apocarpous fruits, individual fruits relatively small (1.0-1.5cm long), shaped like cow's udder or nippled peanut. Peel tomentose, ripening from light-cream to scarlet-orange, containing scarlet-orange juicy pulp surrounding 1-2 globose, dark brown seeds. Popularly sought after by birds.
Others - Plant Morphology Conservation Status: Considered relatively rare in native range in Thailand, categorized as "vulnerable" in 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.Twigs: Slightly rusty-tomentose and warty when young, maturing to warty glabrous grey.
Cultivation Slow-growing but otherwise fuss-free. Propagate by cuttings and air-layering of stems. Propagation by seeds is more difficult, due to morphophysiological dormancy.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Mitrephora' derived from Greek terms 'mitros' (cap) and 'phorus' (bearing), a reference to the distinctive cap-like inner flower petals bore by members of this genus. Species epithet 'keithii' named after British forester and plant collector Henry (Harry) George Keith (1899-1982), who initiated the first large-scale conservation of Sabah's forests under the policy of "sustained yield".

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Flowers) (Day, Time Independent), Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses General, Container Planting
Thematic Landscaping Golden Garden, Fragrant / Aromatherapy Garden, Naturalistic Garden
Species record last updated on: 14 October 2021.