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Memecylon ovatum


Memecylon ovatum Smith

Family Name: Melastomataceae
Synonyms: Memecylon pierrei, Memecylon laxiflorum, Memecylon grande var. ovatum, Memecylon violaceum, Memecylon lucidum, Memecylon tinctorium, Memecylon parviflorum, Memecylon umbellatum, Memecylon rhodophyllum
Common Name: Delek Air, Bayan, Phlong Kin Luuk, Ironweed Tree, Kolis


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 Tree (Small (6m-15m), Shrubby (1m-5m)), Shrub
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 3 m to 12 m


Native Distribution Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Secondary Rainforest, 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, 3-12m height, occasionally reaching 18m.
Trunk Single or multiple. Bark greyish-brown, very thin, fissured and flakey but not ridged.
Foliage Leaves opposite, ovate to elliptical, sub-leathery with indistinct veins, blades 6.3-11.4cm long by 3.8-6.3cm wide, petioles 0.6-1.3cm long, apex acute, margins upcurled. Young leaves glossy red.
Flowers Small (7.62mm across), petals and stamen stalks brilliant blue, calyxes pink, barely scented, clustered into small panicle inflorescences arising directly from twigs at leaf axils.
Fruit Small globular berries, with persistent calyx at base, borne in small axillary bunches, ripening from green to pinkish-red to black, eaten by birds.
Others - Plant Morphology Conservation Status: Native to Singapore, endangered. (Singapore Red Data Book 2008)
Habitat Occuring as thickets at coastal cliffs, on limestone, along sandy to rocky seashores. Part of foliage and/or roots often under seawater during high tide.
Similar Resembles and often mistaken for Memecylon edule whose very fragrant flowers have pink petals and calyxes, topped by blue-stalked stamens; whose fruits ripen from green to yellow to black (never turning red); and whose leaves are smaller (3.8-7.6cm by 2.5-3.8cm) with bluntly-acute tips and stalks shorter than 0.6cm. Differentiated from the similarly blue-flowered Memecylon oleifolium, whose leaves have distinctly caudate (tail-like) tips.
Cultivation Slow-growing. Takes full sun to bright shade. Tolerant of waterlogged, alkaline and 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 'ovatum' means 'ovate', describing the leaves of the plant.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb or Spice)
Others: Medicinal: Root decoction used to treat menstrual irregularities. Leaf infusion used as astringent lotion for eye inflammation.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Fruits
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 Slow
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Poor Infertile Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Alkaline high pH Soils, Shallow Media
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting, Air-Layering


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Thick
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Red
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Bark Colour(s) Greyish-Brown
Mature Bark Texture Fissured
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Blue
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flower Size - Remarks 7.62mm across
Inflorescence Type Panicle
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Black
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Berry

Image Repository



Master ID 29685
Species ID 3994
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: 15 February 2022.