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Colubrina asiatica (L.) Brongn

Family Name: Rhamnaceae
Synonyms: Ceanothus asiaticus
Common Name: Latherleaf, Peria Laut, Peria Pantai, 蛇藤
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Native to Singapore Coastal Roadside Tree / Palm Ornamental Flowers Dry Soils / Drought Woody


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 Shrub (Woody)
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 5 m


Native Distribution India through Southeast Asia (including Singapore), and to China
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Coastal Forest), Shoreline (Sandy Beach, Rocky Beach)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Common)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a sprawling shrub or tree up to 5 m tall, with hanging branches. Some individuals may climb up trees.
Foliage Its alternate, stalked leaves have saw-toothed edged leaf blades that are rather membranous or thinly papery, shiny dark green, egg-shaped, 3.8–8 by 2–5.7 cm, and tri-nerved at the bases.
Flowers Its yellow flowers are 3.8 mm wide, and found in 5 mm-long clusters in the angles of leaves.
Fruits Its round fruits are 7–9 mm wide, and split when ripe to release up to three greyish-brown seeds. Its dried fruit, and seeds are salt-tolerant and buoyant, being sea-dispersed.
Habitat It grows in coastal habitats on rocky headlands or sandy beaches. In Singapore, it is found on inland sandy beaches, and offshore islands. It occurs locally in Pulau Pergam, the Western Catchment Area, Pulau Ubin, and Pulau Tekong, and other coastal vegetation sites.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are insect-pollinated. The large seeds have been suggested as crop stones used by seed-eating birds, which may be responsible for their long distance dispersal.
Cultivation It has attractive foliage and yellow flowers, tolerance for poor soil, rocky, and salt-spray conditions, and occasional sea-water inundation. It is suitable as a barrier plant, hedge, or screen, especially in coastal areas. It is can be propagated by seed. Under natural conditions, branches that come into contact with soil will root, so propagation by stem cuttings is also possible.
Etymology Latin colubrinus, snake-like, referring to the appearance of the twisted stamens; Latin asiatica, Asian, a reference to the natural distribution of this species.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves)
Medicinal ( The plant is said to be used in a decoction to induce abortion. )
[Others]: Its trunk has heartwood that is too narrow for commercial uses. Mats can be bleached and cleaned using the saponins in the bark.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It has attractive foliage and yellow flowers, tolerance for poor soil, rocky, and salt-spray conditions, and occasional sea-water inundation. It is suitable as a barrier plant, hedge, or screen, especially in coastal areas.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Dry Soils / Drought, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Poor Infertile Soils
Landscape Uses Coastal, General, Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Beachfront / Shoreline, Hedge / Screening

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Glossy / Shiny, Papery
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Serrate / Toothed

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 29370
Species ID 3679
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.