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  Thespesia populnea (L.) Sol. ex Corrêa
  Family Name : Malvaceae

  Synonyms : Hibiscus bacciferus, Hibiscus populneus

  Common Names : Bendy Tree, Milo, Bhendi Tree, Portia Tree, Pacific Rosewood, Baru Baru, Baru Laut, Bebaru

  Chinese Name : 桐棉

Bendy Tree,Milo,Bhendi Tree,Portia Tree,Pacific Rosewood,Baru Baru,Baru Laut,Bebaru
  • Record Info
  • Life Stage & Characteristics
    • Plant Division :
      Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
      Plant Growth Form :
      Tree (Medium (16m-30m); Small (6m-15m)), Shrub
      Lifespan (in Singapore) :
      Mode of Nutrition :
      Plant Shape :
      Maximum Height :
      10 m to 20 m
  • Biogeography
    • Native Distribution :
      Throughout the tropical regions of the world (including Singapore)
      Native Habitat :
      Terrestrial (Coastal Forest), Shoreline (Mangrove Forest; Sandy Beach)
      Preferred Climate Zone :
      Local Conservation Status :
      Native to Singapore (Common)
  • Description & Ethnobotany
    • Plant Morphology :
      Growth Form: It is a tree or shrub, with dense crown, and usually grows up to 10 m tall although it has been recorded to be 20 m tall.
      Foliage: Its spirally arranged, stalked leaves have leathery leaf blades that are light green, triangular heart-shaped, and 7–23 by 5–16 cm, with 7 distinct, yellow veins.
      Flowers: Its bisexual flowers are bell-shaped, 6–7.6 by 7.6 cm, solitary, inserted at leaf axils, and pale yellow with a maroon center. Older flowers will turn pink and will remain on the tree for few days.
      Fruits: It produces capsules that are brown, round to pear-shaped, 2–5 cm across, contain yellow gum, and can split into 5 parts when ripe. Each part contains 3–4 seeds that are drop-shaped, 8–9 mm across, and can be densely covered by brown short hair.
      Habitat :
      It grows on seashores and at the landward edge of mangrove forest. It occurs locally in Pulau Ubin, Pulau Tekong, the vicinity of Punggol Reservoir, in Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve, and Western Catchment Nature Reserve.
      Associated Fauna :
      Its flowers are pollinated by insects. The thespesia fire bug (Dysdercus simon) can usually be found associated with the leaves of this plant.
      Cultivation :
      It can be propagated by seed or air-layering.
      Etymology :
      Greek, thespesios, divinely wondrous; Latin, populneus, similar to the poplar tree (Populus species)
      Ethnobotanical Uses :
      Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves; Edible Flowers)
      Food (Fruit & Vegetable: Leaves and flower buds may be eaten raw or cooked.)
      Medicinal (Its leaves, woods, fruits, and seeds have medicinal properties.), Timber & Products (Fiber from its bark is used to make cordage and to caulk boat. The plant is harvested for its light timber that can be made into paddles, furniture, and parts of carts. ), Cultural / Religious (

      The tree is considered sacred in the Pacific, hence is planted around temple, and its leaves are used in religious ceremony.

      [Others]: This species can breakdown petroleum hydrocarbons. The wood can also be used as dye. 
  • Landscaping Features
    • Landscaping :
      It can be used as a roadside tree as it can tolerate full sun, high wind and dry conditions as well as salt spray and immersion of its roots in seawater. The plant also has attractive big yellow flowers.
      Desirable Plant Features :
      Ornamental Flowers
      Plant & Rootzone Preference/Tolerance :
      Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Well-Drained Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Fertile Loamy Soils
      Landscape Uses :
      Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Coastal, Beachfront / Shoreline
  • Fauna, Pollination & Dispersal
    • Pollination Method(s) :
      Biotic (Fauna)
      Seed / Spore Dispersal :
  • Plant Care & Propagation
    • Light Preference :
      Full Sun
      Water Preference :
      Moderate Water
      Propagation Method :
      Seed, Stem Cutting, Air-Layering
  • Foliar
    • Foliage Retention :
      Mature Foliage Colour(s) :
      Mature Foliage Texture(s) :
      Foliar Type :
      Simple / Unifoliate
      Foliar Arrangement Along Stem :
      Foliar Attachment to Stem :
      Foliar Shape(s) :
      Non-Palm Foliage
      Foliar Venation :
      Pinnate / Net
      Leaf Area Index (LAI) * for Green Plot Ratio :
      3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)
  • Floral (Angiosperm)
    • Flower & Plant Sexuality :
      Bisexual Flowers
      Flower Colour(s) :
      Purple, Yellow / Golden
      FlowerTexture(s) :
      Flower Grouping :
      Cluster / Inflorescence
      Flower Location :
      Flower Symmetry :
      Radial, Asymmetrical
      Individual Flower Shape :
      Flower Transitional Changes :
      Colour (Initially yellow with a maroon eye, later turning to purple.)
  • Fruit, Seed & Spore
    • Mature Fruit Colour(s) [Angiosperms & Gymnosperms] :
      Brown, Yellow / Golden
      Mature Fruit Texture(s) :
      Fruit Classification :
      Simple Fruit
      Fruit Type :
      Dehiscent Dry Fruit (Capsule)
  • References
    • Yong J, Tan PY, Nor Hafiz Hassan, Tan SN. 2010. A Selection of Plants for Greening of Waterways and Waterbodies in the Tropics. Singapore: Chung Printing . 480 pp.
The information given on this website has been compiled from reference works on medicinal plants and/or pron only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Reliance on this information is strictly at your own risk. You should always consult your physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.

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