Monday, 17 December 2012

Fragraea fragrans

Fragraea fragrans commonly known as the Tembusu, is from the family Longaniaceae is native to Indochina, including Singapore!

This large evergreen tree with unique perpendicular branching is able to reach a height of 40m. The crown is fairly conical when young, but later grows into a lofty and irregular shape.

Smooth, glossy leaves are oval-shaped with smooth leaf margin. They are 5-8 cm in length and having a width of 1.5-6 cm. The leaves often have a distinct drip tip.

Trumpet-shaped flowers of the Tembusu are about 2 cm wide. Initially creamy white, the flowers gradually turns yellow and finally light orange when old. Each flower is made up of 5 triangular petals and about 5mm long, and white stamens that extend well past the petals. About 15-20 flowers are grouped together in clusters known as pedicel that are located at the branch tips. They open at night, releasing a strong fragrance that lasts till the following morning. The flowers are pollinated by nocturnal moths.


Round berries about 1 cm wide gradually turns from green, orange and then red over about 3 months. They are consumed by birds and bats which promote seed dispersal through their feces. The fruit contains numerous tiny reddish- brown seeds

A photograph of the finest Tembusu in the Singapore Botanic Gardens can be found on the back of the $5 note. It is one of Singapore’s very own Heritage Tree and is reportedly more than 150 years old. The wood is a rich golden brown and is extremely durable and resistant to termite attacks. It is often used in Singapore to make chopping boards.

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