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Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack (Rutaceae)
by Sarah Nabila Binti Rosli

Newsletter

Murraya paniculata (L.) Jack (Rutaceae)

by Sarah Nabila Binti Rosli

Murraya paniculata is known as kemuning in Malay and has many other common English names, such as mock orange, orange jessamine and others. The genus name, Murraya, commemorates Johan Andreas Murray, a German-Swedish herbal doctor and student of Linnaeus back in the 18th century.

Kemuning is a small to medium-sized tree, up to 12 m tall. The glossy green leaves are pinnately arranged, while the flower is white, borne singly or in clusters at the tips of branches or in the upper leaf forks. The flowers have a unique scent which is citrus-like blended with jasmine. The fruits are ovoid-shaped berries, pointed at the apex and greenish turning orange when ripe.

The species is widely distributed from southern China, India, Myanmar, Malaysia, to Australia. It can be found in tropical rain forest, lowland and hill forest up to 600 m above sea level. It can also grow on rocky soil or limestone. In many Asian countries it is widely cultivated as an ornamental and landscape plant due to its fragrant flowers and easy management as it is rarely affected by serious pest or disease problems. Futhermore, it can be used as a windbreak if planted in suitable locations.

Local Malays and Thais craft walking sticks, knife handles and sheaths, paper-weights, chessmen inlays and flutes from the wood of kemuning because of its good wood working qualities and yellow colour. The root commands a high price due to its beautiful patterns and figures (Burkill, 1966). In Java, the flowers are used for cosmetics production while in Burma, the bark and roots are used for the same purposes (Han, 1998). The leaf extract contains substances that can kill insect pests, especially the Asian citrus blackfly (Dowell, 1989).

This species is likely to be categorized as Least Concern (LC) because of its wide distribution and cultivation in many countries, but its conservation status has yet to be determined.

References

  1. Burkill, I.H.. (1966). A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula (I-Z). Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  2. Dowell, R.V. (1989). The Pan-Pacific Entomologist. San Francisco :Pacific Coast Entomological Society, United States of America. pp. 389.
  3. Han, V.T. (1998). Murraya J. Konig ex L.. In Sosef, M.S.M., Soerianegara, I. & Wong, W.C. (eds.) Plant Resources of South-East Asia (PROSEA): Timber trees: Lesser-known timbers, volume 5 (3). Backhuys Publishers, Leiden. pp. 389.
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