Photo credit: Vicky Lim Yen Ngoh

The Mempelas (Tetracera indica) is a common native woody climber that grows up to 5 m long. Against greyish brown bark, its white, fragrant flowers stand out with their numerous reddish-pink stamens. Each of its oblong, leathery fruit produces a pair of dark-coloured seeds wrapped in fleshy red arils.

This plant is known for its wide range of ethnobotanical uses. In traditional Malaysian medicine, its leaves have been used to treat headaches, cure high fevers, and even reduce high blood pressure. Furthermore, its leaves and roots can be pounded into a paste to relieve itchy skin. Its stems are also suitable for holding drinking water and can be used to make tough ropes. In India, its rough leaves have also been used as sandpaper.

The bright red colour of its young stems and fruits makes it an attractive ornamental plant for gardens. Besides being pruned into a bush, this fast-growing climber can also be trained to cover trellises for a pleasing backdrop. It prefers well-draining soils, full sun, and moderate water.

Learn more about this plant here.


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