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Horsfieldia polyspherula var. polyspherula


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular


Native Distribution Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, and the Philippines
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Freshwater Swamp Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Vulnerable (VU))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree up to 40 m tall.
Foliage Its alternate, stalked leaves possess leaf blades that are thickly membranous to papery, egg-shaped-oblong to oblong-lance-shaped, veins distinctly raised above, light brown or chocolate-brown and hairless below, and 7–28 by 2.5–9 cm.
Flowers The species is dioecious with individual trees producing either male or female flowers. Its flowering shoot (inflorescence) has sparse to dense woolly hairs and is 0.6 mm long. Its male inflorescence is 4–20 by 3–12 cm, and contains flowers in up to 8-flowered clusters. Its female inflorescence is up to 8 cm long. The male or female flowers are hairless or gradually becoming so, jade-green, turning to yellow when mature, and its male flowers are smaller than its female flowers.
Fruits Its fruiting clusters (infructescences) contain 1–6 fruits each. Its fruits are partially round or ovoid, hairless, and are 1.9–6 by 1.4–5 cm.
Habitat It grows in lowland forests, freshwater swamp forests, ridge-top forests, and heath forests, up to 1,100 m altitude. It occurs locally in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Central Catchment Nature Reserve (Bukit Kallang, Mandai Forest, and Nee Soon Swamp Forest), and Chestnut Avenue.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are insect-pollinated. The bright red arils are eaten by mammals and hornbills.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Horsfieldia, named after Dr. Thomas Horsfield (1773–1859), an American botanist who explored in the Malesian islands; Latin poly, many; Latin sphaera, globe or ball, referring to the species’ ball-like fruits
Ethnobotanical Uses [Others]: It has horticultural potential as a park tree.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It may be suitable for planting along roadsides or in parks.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site)
Landscape Uses General, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens
Thematic Landscaping Bird & Wildlife Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting (Fruits)
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna) (Vertebrates (Other Mammal))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Lots of Water, Moderate Water
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Papery, Raised / Sunken Veins
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Lanceolate, Elliptical, Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire

Non - Foliar and Storage

Branch Angle (wrt vertical) Horizontal
Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Unisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Dioecious
Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Cream / Off-White
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Smooth
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 30002
Species ID 4311
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: 31 October 2022.