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Memecylon edule Roxb. var. edule

Family Name: Melastomataceae
Common Name: Nipis Kulit, Delek Air, Delek Bangas, Kaayam, Nemaaru
Full Sun Semi Shade Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Plant Native to Singapore Fruit or Vegetable Herb or Spice Coastal Plant Fragrant Plant Ornamental Flowers Shrub Tree


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

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 3 m to 7 m


Native Distribution India, Indochina, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Coastal Forest), Shoreline (Sandy Beach)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Endangered (EN))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Big shrub or small shrubby tree, usually 3-7m tall, sometimes reaching 12m height.
Trunk Single or multiple. Bark greyish-brown, finely ridged and papery-thin -- hence its Malay name Nipis Kulit ("thin skin").
Foliage Leaves opposite, sub-leathery with indistinct veins, blades 3.8-7.6cm long by 2.5-3.8cm wide, petiole very short (up to 0.6cm), apex bluntly acute, margins upcurled. Young leaves glossy red.
Flowers Small (6.35mm across), petals and calyxes pink, topped by blue-stalked stamens, very fragrant, clustered into small panicle inflorescences arising directly from twigs at leaf axils.
Fruits Small globular berries, with persistent calyx at base, borne in small axillary bunches, ripening from green to yellow to black, pulp eaten by birds.
Others - Plant Morphology Conservation Status: Native to Singapore, endangered.
Habitat Occurring in lowland forests, at coastal cliffs, as thickets along sandy to rocky seashores.
Similar Resembles and often mistaken for Memecylon ovatum whose slightly-scented flowers have blue petals and blue-stalked stamens; whose fruits ripen from green to red to black; and whose leaves are larger (6.3-11.4cm by 3.8-6.3cm) with pointed tips and longer petioles (0.6-1.3cm). Differentiated from the blue-flowered Memecylon oleifolium, whose leaves have distinctly caudate (tail-like) tips.
Cultivation Slow-growing. Takes full sun to bright shade. Tolerant of saline soils. If grown as tree, prune periodically and remove water shoots from trunk for better form. Propagate by stem-cuttings, air-layering or seeds.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Memecylon' derived from 'memaecylon' -- as used by ancient Greek philosophers Dioscorides and Pliny to describe the red fruits of Arbutus unedo (Oriental Strawberry Tree) -- alluding to the pink to reddish berries often produced by members of the 'Memecylon' genus. Species epithet 'edule' means 'edible', a reference to the edible but insipid fruits.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)
Food (Herb and Spice;Fruit & Vegetable)
[Others]: Timber: Wood used for rafters, house posts, fuelwood and charcoal. Food: Ripe fruits sometimes eaten, pulp has rather astringent quality. Products: Yellow dye and mordant can be extracted from leaves, used for dyeing silk in Thailand. Medicinal: Leaves have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, traditionally used to heal burns and wounds without scarring. Bark applied as poultice to bruises. Leaf decoction used to treat gonorrhoea in India, while leaves and roots are used to treat dysentery. Root and heartwood decoction used to bring down fever associated with colds, chicken pox and measles.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Flowers) (Day), Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Poor Infertile Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray
Landscape Uses Coastal, General, Hedge / Screening, Container Planting, Beachfront / Shoreline
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Leathery, Thick
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Red
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate, Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 )

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Blue, Pink
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flower Size - Remarks 6.35mm across
Inflorescence Type Panicle
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Black
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Berry

Image Repository



Master ID 29684
Species ID 3993
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: 25 September 2022.