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Poikilospermum suaveolens


Poikilospermum suaveolens (Blume) Merr.

Family Name: Urticaceae
Common Name: Akar Murah, Akar Setawan, Ara Jankang, Centawan, Mentawan, Tentawan, 锥头麻


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 Climber
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular


Native Distribution India, southeast China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, south Thailand, the Nicobar Islands, Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, Java, Sulawesi, and the Moluccas
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Freshwater Swamp Forest, Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Vulnerable (VU))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a large epiphytic climber.
Foliage Its alternate, stalked leaves have leaf blades that are broadly egg-shaped-oblong, and 10-60 by 2-25 cm, with purplish veins beneath.
Flowers Its flowers are pink or yellow and tiny, with male flowers 1.5-2 mm long, and female flowers up to 10 mm long, The flowers are borne on branched head-like clusters, with the male clusters 2 - 5 cm wide, and female clusters 6 - 9 cm wide.
Fruit Its fruits are oblong-obovoid, warty achenes, 3-5 mm.
Habitat It is found in rainforest, often growing on rocks along rivers and streams, up to 700 m altitude.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are visited by ants, small stingless bees, the olive-backed sunbird, and the plain sunbird.
Cultivation It can be propagated from seed or stem cuttings.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal: The juice of pounded leaves or leaf decoctions was used for treating fevers and kidney ailments. The leaves and roots are used to poultice fever and itch. Aerial roots are smoked to treat nose ulcers or as a stimulant. The aerial roots and stem when cut, provide drinking water. The juice of the stem can also be used for treating eyesores.
Others: The fibre-rich bark is used to make rope.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for parks and gardens by pruning it to take on the habit of a shrub.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Landscape Uses General, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird-Attracting (Flowers), Butterfly Host Plant (Leaves)
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee), Insects (Ant, Beetle, Fly, Thrip, Wasp))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils, Easy to Grow
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Brown, Orange
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate, Rosulate / Rosette
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical, Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual Flowers , Dioecious
Flower Colour(s) Pink
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Inflorescence Type Head / Capitulum

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Indehiscent Dry Fruit , Achene

Image Repository



Master ID 31669
Species ID 6068
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: 04 September 2023.