Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website

Magnolia elegans


Magnolia elegans (Blume) H.Keng

Family Name: Magnoliaceae
Synonyms: Talauma elegans (Blume) Miq., Aromadendron elegans Blume
Common Name: Cempaka Hutan, Medang Tanah

Magnolia elegans or Cempaka Hutan is a large tree native to Singapore, growing to 60 m in height. It has glossy elliptic leaves with looped veins, fragrant pale coloured flowers and circular to elliptic, greyish brown fruit. The flowers can produce up to 36 tepals, with four outer tepals light yellowish green and the remaining ones white coloured. When the fruit ripens, it opens to free the seeds with pink or red thickened seed coat.


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m))
Maximum Height 60 m


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

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a medium to large sized tree with grey-coloured bark up to 60 m tall. Mostly glabrous except for the stipules where tufts of hairs are found at the tips. The inner bark is aromatic and said to resemble the scent of unripe mangoes.
Foliage Leaves are glossy, narrowly elliptic to elliptic, 7.5–27 cm long by 3–8 cm wide. The veins joined to form loops meeting near the margin while the veinlets are densely netted, visible on both surfaces.
Flowers Flowers are fragrant, up to 36 unequal tepals produced at the tips of the branches. The four, outer tepals are light yellowish-green, while the remaining ones are white.
Fruit The fruit is circular to elliptic, greyish brown with white spots outside, white flesh which ripens to brown, measuring 5–7 cm long by 3–5 cm wide. When matured, the fruit opens to free the seeds with pink or red thickened seed coat, hanging by a thin elastic cord (funiculus).
Habitat Occurs in primary lowland forest between 20 - 550 m in altitude. <1&2>
Cultivation This species have a preference to be grown in full sun with ample space, propagated by seed.
Etymology Latin Magnolia, commemorating Pierre Magnol (1638–1715), a French professor of botany; Latin elegans, elegant, the reference to which is unknown.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Fragrant (Flowers)
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Spiral
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Recticulate
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Attenuate, Cuneate, Rounded / Obtuse

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers , Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Solitary
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown, Silver / Grey
Fruit Classification Aggregate Fruit (Syncarp)
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Accessory / False Fruit (Pseudocarp)


References <1> Nooteboom, H. P. (1988). Magnolia. In: Nooteboom, H.P. (eds) Flora Malesiana, ser 1, Seed Plants, vol. 10, pt. 3, pp. 557. Leiden: Rijksherbarium.

<2> Nooteboom, H.P. (2012). In: Kiew, R., Chung, R.C.K., Saw, L.G. & Soepadmo, E. (eds.) Flora of Peninsular Malaysia, ser. 2, Seed Plants, vol. 3, pp. 229-230. Selangor: Forest Research Institute. Malaysia.

Image Repository



Master ID 29397
Species ID 3706
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: 05 October 2023.