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Melochia umbellata (Houtt.) Stapf

Family Name: Malvaceae
Common Name: Tapu, Tampu
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Native to Singapore Roadside Tree / Palm Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Tree
Maximum Height 10 m


Native Distribution From Mauritius, India, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Sabah, Sarawak to Papua New Guinea.
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status 1 Native to Singapore

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree, up to 10 m tall, without buttresses. Bark is brown and generally smooth, but prominently lenticillate.
Foliage Leaf is broadly egg-shaped (5 – 16 cm long and 2 – 16 cm wide), papery, and densely covered with star-shaped (stellate) hairs on both surfaces. Leaf has (3-) 5 basal veins and distinctly toothed margin.  Leaf base is rounded or heart-shaped while leaf tip is short (acute to acuminate). Petiole is slender (3 – 11 cm long) and hairy. Stipules are persistent, 0.4 – 1 cm long and 0.5 – 1.2 cm wide, with pale hairs on both surfaces.
Flowers Flowers are clustered into a flat-topped inflorescence (corymb), about 4 – 11 cm long, and occurs at the axillary. Flowers are pink – red, star-shaped (about 0.3 – 0.4 cm long and 1 – 1.2 cm wide) with 5 yellow stamens and a yellow style.
Fruits Fruit is oblong capsule (0. 7 cm long and 0.5 cm wide) with 5 longitudinal grooves. Fruit turns from green to brown when ripe, and split open from the center, along the groove and revealing 1 brown winged seed (0.5 cm long) in each locule.
Habitat It is found in secondary forest, disturbed areas and along riverbanks, up to 1250m altitude.
Etymology Latin umbellatus, umbel –bearing, which refers to the umbellate inflorescences.
Ethnobotanical Uses [Others]: It is commonly planted in Borneo as a shade providing tree.

Landscaping Features

Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Shade Providing Tree / Palm

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Pink

Fruit, Seed & Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown


References Ganesan, S.K., Lua, H.K. & Ibrahim, Ali. 2018. Melochia umbellata (Malvaceae subfam. Byttnerioideae), a new record for Singapore. Gardens Bulletin Singapore. 70 (1). 25 - 31

Wilkie, P & Berhaman, A.. 2011. Sterculiaceae. Tree Flora of Sabah and Sarawak: 7: 331−407

Image Repository



Master ID 33043
Species ID 7457
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: 20 April 2020.