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Melanolepis multiglandulosa (Reinw. ex Blume) Rchb.f. & Zoll.

Melanolepis multiglandulosa (Reinw. ex Blume) Rchb.f. & Zoll.




Melanolepis angulata Miq., Melanolepis moluccana (L.) Pax. & K. Hoffm., Mallotus multiglandulosus (Reinw. ex Blume) Hurus.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Chawan, jarak kayu (Peninsular).
Indonesia Daun kapur (Malay, Moluccas), ngalu (Halmahera, Tidore), tutup (Javanese).
Philippines Alim (Tagalog), alok (Bikol, Bisaya).
Vietnam C[as]nh di[eef]u, h[aws]c l[aa]n nhi[eef]u tuy[ees]n.
Papua New Guinea Avima (Nangananga, East New Britain).

Geographical Distributions

Melanolepis multiglandulosa is widespread over Taiwan, Ryukyu Islands, Marianas, and from southern Thailand throughout Malaysia to Papua New Guinea (Bismarck Archipelago). The species is unknown from Sarawak and Brunei and has never been cultivated outside its area of natural distribution.


M. multiglandulosa is a shrub or tree, measuring up to 20 m tall. The young parts are covered with whitish to brown star-shaped hairs. The bark is smooth to shallowly fissured with minutely lenticels and flaky. The latex is milky and sticky.

The leaves are spirally arranged, simple, egg-shaped, at times 3-lobed and usually symmetric with sized between 5-38 cm x 5-34 cm. The leaf base is heart to wedge-shaped, with a group of protruding glands on the upper surface. The apex is acute to acuminate while the margin is dentate, and with glands in teeth, while the smaller one is along the margin and it is papery. The venation is palmate with 5(-7) major veins. The lower surface is often with 2 basal black glandular areas and additional smaller glandular areas along the veins. The stalk measures 2.4-31 cm long.

The inflorescence is a terminal panicle and very laxly branched, usually with either staminate or unisexual flowers with pistil, erect, measuring up to 26(-54) cm long and the side-branches measuring up to 41 cm long. The staminate flowers are up to 5 together and they are unisexual flowers with single or 2 pistils together. The flowers are radial symmetrical with sepals (4-)5, with floral leaf segments; however petals are absent. The staminate flowers are 7-13 mm in diametre and egg-shaped sepals with 200-250 stamens. The sepal tube measures about 1 mm long and lobes 1.7-3 mm x 1.2-1.8 mm. The ovary is 2-3-locular with 1 ovule per compartment, style measures 0-0.6(-2) mm long and stigmas are erect. It may have not or slightly split or not pedicel measures 3-6 (-13) mm long that increase in size with age.

The grey to green fruit is a lobed capsule, reverse heart-shaped in outline, with a size of 9-15 mm x 7-9 mm and densely covered with soft shorts hairs but sometimes hairless. The seed measures 5.5-6 mm x 4.5-5.5 mm, creamy to purplish-magenta; aril is grey to orange.

Ecology / Cultivation

M. multiglandulosa is rare to usually locally common and is considered to be an invader. It is mainly found in secondary places such as roadsides, regrowth thickets, depleted open secondary forest, forest edges in savanna, coconut plantations, old gardens, but also in primary forest such as Barringtonia swamp forest, Eucalyptus deglupta Blume dominated forest, monsoon (deciduous) forest and along mangroves, at altitudes varying from sea-level up to 300(-1335) m. It is often found in poorly drained and/or temporarily inundated alluvial sands, clay, coral (sand), red loam, and volcanic soils.

Line Drawing / Photograph



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

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