Peltophorum pterocarpum (DC.) Backer ex K. Heyne

Peltophorum pterocarpum (DC.) Backer ex K. Heyne




Peltophorum ferrugineum (Decne.) Benth., Peltophorum inerme (Roxb.) Naves & Villar.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Batai laut, jemerelang laut.
English Yellow flame, copper pod, yellow poinciana.
Indonesia Soga (General), soga jambal (Javanese).
Thailand Non see (General), krathin paa (Trat), saan ngoen (Mae Hong Son).

Siár (Sulu).

Vietnam Lim sét, trac vàng.

Geographical Distributions

Peltophorum pterocarpum is distributed over a large area ranging from Sri Lanka, the Andaman Islands, Thailand and Indo-China (Vietnam and Cambodia), throughout the whole of Malaysia to northern Australia. In Malesia, the species occurs throughout Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and locally in Papua New Guinea (mouth of Bensbach River). It is widely cultivated throughout its natural area of distribution, and also in the Bismarck Archipelago, India, tropical Africa, the West Indies, Central America, Florida and Hawaii.


Peltophorum pterocarpum is a deciduous, usually medium-sized tree that reaches up to 30 m tall but sometimes growing into a large tree up to 50 m tall, with a straight trunk and a dense umbrella-shaped crown. The trunk is generally up to 70 cm in diametre but often less, and sometimes buttressed. The bark is up to 15 mm thick, pink in cross section and light brown to red inside.

The leaves are bipinnately compound with 4-15 pairs of pinnae, and the rusty pubescent petiole 25-30 cm long and rachis are together. The stipules are small. The leaflets are in 8-22 pairs per pinna, oblong-elliptic, measuring 8-30 mm x 3-10 mm, oblique at the base, rounded-emarginate at the apex, and finely pubescent beneath.

The 5-merous flowers clustered in racemes are combined into a terminal panicle up to 45 cm long, fragrant and long-stalked. The sepals are 5-10 mm long and reflexed while the (ob)ovate or orbicular petals are 1.5–2.5 cm long, yellow, wavy and spreading. There are 10 stamens with woolly filaments at the base. The ovary is superior, hairy and with slender style.

The 1-5-seeded fruit is an elliptic to oblong-lance-shaped pod, measuring 5-13.5 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm, shortly stalked, acute at the apex, more or less winged, smooth, longitudinally veined and copper-colored when ripens but later turning blackish. The seeds are oblong, measuring 10 - 12 mm x 5 mm and flattened. Seedling is with epigeal germination, with hypocotyl 4-6 cm long, stalked, 3-nerved and with smooth cotyledons.

Ecology / Cultivation

Under natural conditions, Peltophorum pterocarpum is a lowland species, rarely occurring above 100 m altitude. It frequently grows along beaches and in mangrove forests, especially along the inner margin of the mangroves. In Java, it is also found probably wild in Imperata fields and teak forests. The species prefers open forests. It has been suggested that yellow flame thrives best under more or less seasonal conditions. Under cultivation, Peltophorum pterocarpum can be grown well up to 600 m altitude, sometimes even up to 1600 m, e.g. in Papua New Guinea.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 3: Dye and tannin-producing plants.