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Scaevola taccada

Scaevola taccada




Lobelia taccada Gaertner, Scaevola sericea Vahl, Scaevola frutescens Krause.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Ambong-ambong, buas-buas laut, akar pahit.
English Sea lettuce tree.
Indonesia Dudulan (Javanese), babakoan (Sundanese), subong-subong (Bengkulu).
Papua New Guinea Gavagava (Milne Bay), pahop (Manus Island).
Philippines Boto, mosboron (Tagalog, Bisaya), bosboron (Tagalog, Bikol, Bisaya).
Thailand Bong bong, rak thale (Peninsular), ho raa (Southeastern).
Vietnam H[ees]p, s[ow]n d[uw][ow]ng.

Geographical Distributions

S. taccada is found from Madagascar eastward to Southeast Asia, throughout Malesia, tropical Australia, the Pacific Islands and Hawaii. It is cultivated and sparingly naturalised in the south-eastern United States


This is an erect spreading shrub or small tree up to 4(-7) m tall with cylindrical little branches.

Leaves are arranged alternate and the majority crowded at the end of the branches. They are spoon-shaped to reverse egg-shaped size 12-26 cm x 5-10cm. The base is attenuate while apex is blunt to rounded. Their margin is entire, sinuate to dentate, herbaceous to just succulent, hairless to shortly densely covered with short soft hairs and sessile. There are no stipules.

Inflorescence is arising from the axils, bearing a determinate inflorescence, laxly branches that size about 4 cm long are few-flowered supported by persistent bracts. The inflorescence stalk is 0.5-2 cm long. Flowers are 5-merous but irregular and size between 2-2.5 cm long. It’s scentless, white to pale yellow and supported by individual flower stalk that is 0.3-1.2 cm long, hairless to densely lying flat hairy. The sepal is united to the ovary with lobes linear to narrowly elliptical, 0.2-0.5 cm long, and persistent. The petal is hairless to hairy outside while densely hairy inside. Their tube is 0.5-1 cm long, lobe membranous, fringed towards the base, which is about 0.5 cm long. The 2-celled ovary is inferior the while style faintly hairy at base.

Fruit is a fleshy drupe, 1-1.5 cm in diametre, faintly 2-lobed and ribbed. The fruit is pellucid-white when ripe, 2-seeded stone 0.8 cm x 0.6 cm.

Seedling germinates above the ground, with emergent, fleshy cotyledonsand elongated young stem.

Ecology / Cultivation

S. taccada is a typical constituent of the Barringtonia formation. It is usually confined to the seashore, restricted to sandy beaches or rock and coral outcrops, occasionally found inland on Pacific atolls in sunny disturbed habitats and rock faces. It is capable of substantial growth and physiological responses, which are required in coastal habitats characterised by large temporal and spatial variations in substrate salinity and salt spray levels. Seaward expansion is limited by a combination of salt spray and substrate salinity.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2.

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