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Diospyros latisepala


Diospyros latisepala Ridl.

Family Name: Ebenaceae
Common Name: Kayu Malam, Siangus, Berumbang Darat, 宽萼柿

Diospyros latisepala, also known as Kayu Malam, is a native tree, up to 16 m tall. Named after its black bark and dark coloured wood, it is easily recognized by its leaf-like and persistent fruit calyx clasping at the base of its fleshy fruit.


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Genus Epithet
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Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Tree
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 16 m


Native Distribution Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Presumed Nationally Extinct (NEx))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a tree, about 16 m tall and 0.5 m girth. The bark is black, brittle and finely fissured.
Foliage Leaves are thinly leathery, oblong-elliptic (10 – 25 cm long and 3 – 10 cm wide) and covered with hairs on both sides. The leaf tip is tapering (acuminate) while the leaf base is wedge-shaped (cuneate). Each leaf has about 5 – 8 pairs of secondary veins. The midrib is slightly sunken on the upper surface of the leaf. In contrast, it is prominent and angled on the underside. The petiole is about 0.7 – 1.6 cm long, wrinkled and grooved.
Flowers Flowers occur in a cluster as a cymose inflorescence at the axils of leaves. Inflorescence stalk can reach 1.5 – 6 cm long. Each flower has 4 – 5 sepals which persist and form the fruiting calyx. Petals are united at the base to give a tubular appearance. Male and female flowers occur on different plants (dioecious) and sometimes sporadically hermaphroditic. Male flower has 5 – 7 stamens in one row while female flower has about 8 staminodes and a densely hairy ovary.
Fruit Fruit is fleshy and ellipsoid to ovoid (5 cm long and 4 cm wide). It is hairy when young and gradually becomes smooth (glabrous) as it matures. The calyx is leaf-like, persistent and clasping at the base. It is not distinctly lobed and sometimes irregularly split. Within each fruit, there are 2 – 6 seeds which are covered in a thin layer of pulpy endocarp.
Habitat It is found in rainforest, up to 1000m altitude.
Similar It is similar to Diospyros dictyoneura and can be distinguished by looking at the leaf texture, midrib and stamens. D. latisepala has hairy leaves and midrib that is partly raised above while D. dictyoneura has glabrous leaves and midrib that is fully sunken on the upper surface of the leaf. Also, D. latisepala has 5 – 7 stamens in one row while D. dictyoneura has 20 stamens in two rows.
Associated Fauna Flowers are pollinated by insects.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Greek dios, means divine. Greek pyros, means wheat, and together means divine wheat or food, with reference to the edible persimmon fruit. Latin latisepala means having broad sepals.

Landscaping Features

Landscape Uses Reforestation, Parks & Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Well-Drained Soils


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Cuneate

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Bark Colour(s) Black
Mature Bark Texture Fissured
Root Type Underground

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual Flowers , Dioecious
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Individual Flower Shape Tubular
Inflorescence Type Cyme

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Texture(s) Smooth
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Berry
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Few (1-5)



Ng, F.S.P. (1978). Ebenaceae. In: Ng, F.S.P. et al (eds) Tree Flora of Malaya: A Manual for Foresters, vol. 3: Pp. 56 – 94. Kuala Lumpur: Longman Sdn. Bhd. 

Ridley, H.N. (1923) The Flora of the Malay Peninsula. Vol. 2. Pp. 1 – 672. London: L. Reeve & Co.

Image Repository



Master ID 34277
Species ID 8690
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: 14 February 2023.