Myrmecodia tuberosa Jack

Myrmecodia tuberosa Jack




Myrmecodia armata DC., Myrmecodia echinata Gaudich., Myrmecodia rumphii Becc.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Periok hantu, perutak, sembuku (Peninsular).
Indonesia Rumah semut (Sumatra), urek-urek polo (Javanese).
Vietnam K[yf] nam gai, k[yf] nam ki[ees]n.

Geographical Distributions

M. tuberosa occurs throughout Malaysia, and also in Vietnam, the Solomon Islands and northern Australia (Cape York Peninsula).


M. tuberosa is an epiphytic subshrub, with solitary or few thick stems that arise from a varied shaped tuber-like swollen base that up to 40 cm long while the inside is usually with a labyrinth of honeycombed pores. The outside is with entrance holes that often in arcs, with or without spines on tubers and stems. Leaves are arranged opposite, simple and entire, elliptical to oblanceolate or spatulate, 10-47 cm x 3-14 cm. Its base is abruptly to gradually tapered, apex is acute to acuminate, usually leathery, hairless and pinnately veined. The petiole is 2-13 cm long while stipules are interpetiolar, triangular and more or less persistent. Flowers are a few, held together at the bottom of cup-shaped cavities in the stem with hairy bracts, bisexual, 4-merous, sessile and heterostylous. The sepal tube is cylindrical and limb is usually truncate. Petal is white, tubular, about 11 mm long, tube with a ring of hairs inside and hooked lobes. The stamens are inserted in petal tube and usually included while the filaments are absent or short. The disk is ring-shaped and prominent. Ovary is inferior with 4-6-celled, slender style, included or exserted with 4-6-lobed stigma. Fruit is a fleshy drupe about 7 mm long, developing within cavities in the stem, extruded when mature, yellow, orange-red to pink when ripe and with 4-6 pyrenes.

Ecology / Cultivation

M. tuberosa is distributed in widely divergent habitats. It can be found in mangrove trees along the coast, but also at high altitudes, up to 2500 m. It occurs in lowland rain forest (secondary as well as primary), swamp or riverine rain forest, disturbed forest, montane and mossy forest, Acacia-Melaleuca woodland, Casuarina-Melaleuca and Eucalyptus-Melaleuca savanna, and sometimes in plantations. It is epiphytic on a wide range of trees. (1)

Line Drawing / Photograph




  1. View Abstract: R.H.M.J. Lemmens and N. Bunyapraphatsara (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.12(3): Medicinal and poisonous plants 3. 2003.