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Diospyros maingayi


Diospyros maingayi (Hiern) Bakh.

Family Name: Ebenaceae
Synonyms: Diospyros bilocularis Oliv., Maba maingayi Hiern
Common Name: Nyatoh Itam, Kayu Balum, Kayu Arang, Kayu Malan, Siangus

Diospyros maingayi or Nyatoh Itam is a large-sized tree, native to Singapore that can grow to 40 m tall. The leaves are leathery, elliptic to spoon-shaped. Flowers are dioecious, bell-shaped, 4-5 lobed, cream-white coloured. Both the female and male inflorescences are similar in appearance but the female tend to be bulgy at the base. The fruit is a single-seeded, oblong berry that ripens to orange.


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Genus Epithet
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Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Maximum Height 40 m


Native Distribution Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo and Singapore..
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a large-sized tree that can grow to 40 m tall. Buttresses may be present of up to 2 - 4m tall.
Foliage Leaves are elliptic, sometimes spoon-shaped, leathery, measuring 5 - 21 cm long by 3 - 11 cm wide. The midrib is sunken above with 5-9 pairs of veinlets and tertiary veinlets almost invisible.
Flowers Flowers are dioecious, the male and female inflorescence are produced on different individuals. Both female and male are similar in appearance however the former tend to be bulgy at the base. Flowers are cream-white, bell-shaped, 4- 5 lobed, numerous stamens fused together into the hollow tube.
Fruit Fruit is a single-seeded, oblong, orange coloured drupe measuring to 6 cm long by 3.5 cm wide.
Habitat Occurs in peat swamps, lowland hills and montane forests up to 600 m in altitude. <1,2>
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Ethnobotanical Uses Timber & Products: The wood is used as ebony.

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Slow
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical, Oblong, Obovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate, Caudate, Emarginate
Foliar Base Auriculate, Cuneate, Rounded / Obtuse

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual Flowers , Dioecious
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary, Cauliflorous
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Campaulate / Bell-shaped
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Orange
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Berry
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Few (1-5)


References <1> Lemmens, R.H.M.J, Soerianegara, I. & Wong, W.C. (1995). Plant Resources of South-East Asia, Timber trees: Minor commercial timber, pp. 194-195. Leiden: Backhuys Publishers.

<2> Ng. F.S.P. (1978). In: Ng. F.S.P. & D.Phil., F.L.S. (eds). Tree Flora of Malaya: A manual for foresters, vol. 3, pp. 77. Kepong: Forest Research Institute.

Image Repository



Master ID 29378
Species ID 3687
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: 17 November 2023.