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  Caesalpinia crista L.
  Family Name : Fabaceae (Leguminosae)

  Synonyms : Caesalpinia chinensis, Caesalpinia scandens, Caesalpinia nuga

  Common Names : Squirrel's Claws, Kuku Tupai

  Chinese Name : 华南云实

Squirrel's Claws,Kuku Tupai
  • Record Info
  • Life Stage & Characteristics
    • Plant Division :
      Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
      Plant Growth Form :
      Climber, Vine & Liana
      Lifespan (in Singapore) :
      Mode of Nutrition :
      Plant Shape :
      Maximum Height :
      5 m to 20 m
  • Biogeography
    • Native Distribution :
      China, Sri Lanka, India, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Japan, and Australia
      Native Habitat :
      Terrestrial (Riverine), Shoreline (Mangrove Forest; Sandy Beach)
      Preferred Climate Zone :
      Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
      Local Conservation Status :
      Native to Singapore (Vulnerable (VU))
  • Description & Ethnobotany
    • Plant Morphology :
      Growth Form: A climber with a scrambling growth form up to 5 to 20m in height and can scramble over tall trees. 
      Foliage: Its spirally arranged, stalked, bipinnate leaves have about 2–4 pairs of primary leaflets (pinnae) that are up to 8 cm long and each has 1–5 pairs of opposite secondary leaflets (pinnules). Its leathery pinnule blades are egg-shaped to lance-shaped, shining green above, and 2–10 by 1–5 cm. There are blackish recurved spines along the leaf parts.
      Stems: The stems are long and covered with short, sharp and curved spines. The young stems are red and turn green as they mature. 
      Flowers: Its flowers grow on terminal and axillary flowering shoots that are 10–20 cm long. The flowers are yellow, fragrant, with egg-shaped petals, and 1.2 cm wide.
      Fruits: Its pods are leathery, round, egg-shaped to kidney-shaped, swollen, with a beaked tip, and 3–4 by 2–3 cm. Each fruit contains a single seed that is black, compressed, and 12 by 20 mm.
      Habitat :
      It grows on riverbanks, sandy beaches, and the sandy parts of mangrove, on chalks and limestones, at low altitude, up to 350 m. It occurs locally in the vicinity of Kranji Reservoir and Pulau Tekong.
      Associated Fauna :
      It is the preferred local food plant for caterpillars of the butterfly three-spot grass yellow (Eurema blanda), and the moth Lacera alope.
      Cultivation :
      It can be propagated by seed.
      Etymology :
      Latin Caesalpinia, commemorating Andrea Cesalpino, a 16th century Italian botanist; Greek crista, with a small crest, the reference to which is unknown
      Ethnobotanical Uses :
      Medicinal (Its seeds are ground in water and the liquid drunk for colic. The leaves are prescribed for sharp gouty pains in hands and feet. A decoction of crushed seeds is used as an emetic and credited with anti-dysenteric properties. Its fruits are externally applied in the treatment of rash. Its roots are used in the treatment of kidney stones.)
  • Landscaping Features
    • Landscaping :
      It is suitable for growing in parks over trellises for its ornamental, fragrant flowers. However, it should be noted that there are prickles and spines on this plant.
      Desirable Plant Features :
      Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Flowers)
      Plant & Rootzone Preference/Tolerance :
      Moist Soils, Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Well-Drained Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Fertile Loamy Soils
      Landscape Uses :
      Parks & Gardens, Coastal, Trellis / Arbour / Pergola
      Thematic Landscaping :
      Golden Garden, Naturalistic Garden
      Usage Hazards / Cons :
      Spines/Thorns - Stem/Branch, Spines/Thorns - Leaf
  • Fauna, Pollination & Dispersal
    • Associated Fauna :
      Caterpillar Food Plant
      Pollination Method(s) :
      Biotic (Fauna)
      Seed / Spore Dispersal :
  • Plant Care & Propagation
    • Light Preference :
      Full Sun
      Water Preference :
      Lots of Water, Moderate Water
      Plant Growth Rate :
      Propagation Method :
  • Foliar
    • Foliage Retention :
      Mature Foliage Colour(s) :
      Mature Foliage Texture(s) :
      Glossy / Shiny, Leathery
      Foliar Type :
      Compound (Bipinnate)
      Foliar Arrangement Along Stem :
      Alternate, Spiral
      Foliar Attachment to Stem :
      Foliar Shape(s) :
      Non-Palm Foliage (Lanceolate; Elliptical)
      Foliar Venation :
      Pinnate / Net
      Foliar Margin :
  • Non-Foliar & Storage
    • Stem Type & Modification :
      Thorn / Prickle
  • Floral (Angiosperm)
    • Flower & Plant Sexuality :
      Bisexual Flowers
      Flower Colour(s) :
      Orange, Yellow / Golden
      Flower Grouping :
      Cluster / Inflorescence
      Flower Location :
      Inflorescence Type :
  • Fruit, Seed & Spore
    • Mature Fruit Colour(s) [Angiosperms & Gymnosperms] :
      Mature Fruit Texture(s) :
      Fruit Classification :
      Simple Fruit
      Fruit Type :
      Dehiscent Dry Fruit (Legume / Pod)
      Mature Seed Colour(s) :
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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