Melastoma malabathricum L.

Key to the subspecies

1a. Leaves strigose to slightly pilose below; branches covered with scalesa. ssp. malabathricum
b. Leaves pilose beneath; branches piloseb. ssp. normale

7a. Melastoma malabathricum L. ssp. malabathricum L.

Table of contents

  1. Protologue
  2. Synonyms
  3. Vernacular names
  4. Description
  5. Distribution, ecology and notes
  6. Collections

1. Protologue

Melastoma malabathricum L., Sp. Pl. 1 (1753): 390. - Type: Wight s.n., India orientalis (LINN, not seen).

foliis lanceolato-ovatis quincenervibus scabris quincenervia hirta major, capitulis fericeis villosis.

2. Synonyms

3. Vernacular names

Vernacular names: Harendong (Java); Sikadoekdoek (Sumatra); Tjengkodok (Borneo); Gosing (D/Bundu Tuhan, Borneo); Sendudok/Sendudok Gunong, Kuduk-kuduk (Malaysia); Ai’inot (Enga, Yogos, New Guinea); Djuk (Yoowi dialect, Hagen-Chimbu language, New Guinea); Davun-dava (Solomon Islands); Camoteng/Kamutin (Tagbanua, Philippines); Bayakin-kin (Mang, Philippines); Singapore Rhododendron/Straits Rhododendron (English); Maha-bowitiya (Singapore); Aa-noi Ton, Klong kleng, Beng-ah, Mai grá (Thailand).

4. Description

Shrubs 1.5--3 m high or small trees up to 5 m tall; young branches quadrangular, covered with appressed or slightly spreading scales, bark grey or brown; old branches terete, glabrescent. Leaves elliptic to lanceolate, 6--15 x 2--6.5 cm, occasionally narrowly lanceolate to oblong, 4--6 x 0.6--1.5 cm, base rounded to acute, apex acuminate; lamina strigose above, beneath strigose to slightly pilose; nerves 5 or 7, beneath covered with appressed to spreading scales; petiole 7--20 mm long. Inflorescences terminal cymes of 3--12 flowers. Flowers 5-merous, seldom 6-, 7-, or 8-merous, often varying on a single plant; bracts deciduous, lanceolate or ovate, acuminate, varying from small and inconspicuous (2.3 x 2.0 mm) to large and enclosing the buds (16 x 14 mm), outside covered with small appressed scales at least along the midrib, inside glabrous. Hypanthium campanulate, varying from 5 x 5 mm to 11 x 10 mm, covered with appressed or slightly spreading, (0.8--)1.2--2.5(--3.4) mm long, golden to red scales; sepals lanceolate, (3.2--)4.5--7.0(--10.5) x (1.9--)2.5--3.5(--6.2) mm, outside covered with appressed scales at least along the midrib, inside glabrous or hairy at the apex; intersepalar emergences subulate, (1.0--)1.5--3.5(--5.5) mm long. Petals obovate, 15--35 x 10--22 mm, ciliate at the apical margin, violet, seldom white (especially on the Pacific Islands). Stamens dimorphic (seldom isomorphic); anthers of longer stamens 6.5--13.1 mm long, slightly sigmoid, violet, connectives 9.7--17 mm long, with a ventral bilobed, yellow appendage c. 0.9--3.3 mm long, filaments 6--12 mm long; anthers of shorter inner stamens 5.5--10.5 mm long, ± straight, yellow, connective not prolonged or seldom up to 2.0 mm long, with 2 ventral appendages c. 0.6--2.0 mm long, yellow, filaments 5.5--9.5 mm long. Ovary shorter than the hypanthium, crowned by golden bristles; style 23--32 mm long, sigmoid. Fruit a fleshy capsule, 6.5--10(--11.5) x (5--)6--9(--10.5) mm, rupturing irregularly transversally at maturity, exposing the soft, dark blue pulp with the orange seeds.

5. Distribution, ecology and notes

Distribution - Indian Ocean (Mauritius, Seychelles), South and Southeast Asia, South China, Taiwan, Australia, South Pacific Ocean (Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia).

Distribution map of M. malabathricum ssp. malabathricum

Click to get a larger map. Map made with Online Map Creation.

Ecology - Collections: 338. In disturbed places (roadsides, river banks, secondary forests), on fallow land, or on grasslands from sea level to up to 2900 m altitude.

Notes - Melastoma malabathricum is the most widespread and morphologically most variable species of the genus, resulting in the description of many separate species. After examining numerous specimens from the entire distributional range, I found intermediate forms connecting the types of the named entities. Their characters combine nearly independently within the geographical range of M. malabathricum which makes it impossible to describe subspecies or varieties based on more than one or two collections. An exception is ssp. normale, which is more pilose than ssp. malabathricum and grows in the northern part of the distribution area. Intermediate forms in branch indumentum and specimens from the Malay Archipelago do not allow to treat ssp. normale as a separate species.
The great variability of M. malabathricum may be connected with its preferred habitat. The plants grow in disturbed places that today are more common in Asia and Oceania than undisturbed ones. It is possible that the species expanded its natural area synanthropically resulting in the isolation of small populations and the subsequent stabilization of morphological characters of the (self-compatible) founder individual.

6. Collections

AUSTRALIA.

BRUNEI

CAROLINE ISLANDS

CHINA

FIJI ISLANDS

FRANCE

GUAM

INDIA

INDONESIA

MALAYSIA

MAURITIUS

NEPAL

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

PHILIPPINES

SEYCHELLES

SINGAPORE

SOLOMON ISLANDS

SRI LANKA

THAILAND

USA

VANUATU

VIETNAM

COUNTRY UNKNOWN

7b. Melastoma malabathricum L. ssp. normale (D. Don) K. Meyer

Table of contents

  1. Protologue
  2. Synonyms
  3. Vernacular names
  4. Description
  5. Distribution, ecology and notes
  6. Collections

1. Protologue

Melastoma malabathricum L. ssp. normale (D. Don) K. Meyer, Diss. Univ. Mainz (1999): 91. - Melastoma normale D. Don, Prodr. Fl. Nep. (1825): 220. - Type: Hamilton s.n., Nepal (K?, not seen).

Ramis undique setoso-pilosis, foliis ellipiticis acutis 5-nerviis basi rotundatis supra hispide pilosis subtus et lanuginosis, floribus ternis, calycibus squamulis lineari-setaceis ciliatis canis appressis omnino tectis.

Hab. in Nepalia. Hamilton
Obs. M. malabathricae affinis sed abunde distinctis.

2. Synonyms

3. Vernacular names

Vernacular names: Cay Mua (Vietnam), En-ah, I deng, Klong klang (Thailand), I si (Mussô, Thailand).

4. Description

Shrubs 1.5--2.5 m high or small trees up to 4 m high; young branches quadrangular, covered with spreading or erect scales and bristles, bark brown; old branches terete, glabrescent. Leaves lanceolate, 6--12(--20) x 3--6(--8) cm, base rounded or acute, apex acuminate; lamina above strigose to pilose, beneath pilose; nerves 5 of 7, beneath covered with long spreading bristles or scales; petiole 7--25 mm long. Inflorescences terminal cymes. Flowers 5-merous; bracts lanceolate, 6--10 x 2--4 mm, outside hairy, inside glabrous. Hypanthium campanulate, 6--9 x 6--8 mm, covered with long appressed golden scales; sepals triangular-lanceolate, 6.5--8 x 3--4 mm, outside covered with appressed scales, inside glabrous; intersepalar emergences simple, c. 2 mm long. Petals obovate-cuneate, 22--27 x 17--20 mm, ciliate at the apex, violet. Stamens dimorphic; anthers of longer outer stamens c. 7.5 mm long, violet, connectives c. 5.5 mm long, ventrally curved, with 2 ventral appendages c. 1.5 mm long, filaments c. 8 mm long; anthers of shorter inner stamens c. 6.5 mm long, yellow, connectives not prolonged, ventrally with 2 appendages c. 1 mm long, filaments 7--8 mm long. Ovary slightly shorter than the hypanthium, crowned by bristles. Fruit a fleshy capsule, opening irregularly transversally at maturity, 7--10 x 7--10 mm, exposing the soft dark pulp with orange seeds.

5. Distribution, ecology and notes

Distribution - India (Karnataka, Sikkim), Bhutan, Nepal, Thailand (North, North-East), Laos, Vietnam, China, Malaysia (Perak), Indonesia (Sumatra, Java), New Caledonia, Philippines (Capiz).

Distribution map of M. malabathricum ssp. normale

Click to get a larger map. Map made with Online Map Creation.

Ecology - Collections: 39. In disturbed evergreen, deciduous or coniferous forests, in savannas on sandstone plateaus, or on rocks at altitudes from 300--1900 m.

Notes - Melastoma malabathricum ssp. normale is a more northern taxon than its relatives, beeing mainly distributed from the edges of the Himalaya across northern Thailand to South China. Here it is the most common taxon of Melastoma. In tropical regions it is restricted to high mountains. The plants can be identified by their pilose leaves and brown scales on the branches.

6. Collections

BHUTAN

INDIA

INDONESIA

NEPAL

NEW CALEDONIA

PHILIPPINES

THAILAND

VIETNAM

COUNTRY UNKNOWN

Last Page: Introduction to Melastoma. Next Page: Index of scientific names of Melastoma.

Last updated 7 November 1999
Karsten Meyer