Mycetia malayana (G.Don) Craib (Rubiaceae)
by Mrs. Sarah Nabila Binti Rosli
© Cheah Yih Horng

Coffee, fondly loved worldwide, and the lesser-known gambier, are from the Rubiaceae family. This ‘coffee family’ is the fourth biggest flowering plant family comprised of 611 genera and more than 13,150 species around the world. According to Wong (1989), species from the Rubiaceae play an important role in the lower story in the forest because most of the species are shrubs and small trees and hence this contributes to forest floor density and soil fertility. In Peninsular Malaysia, only four endemic genera were recognised. Species from the Rubiaceae are easily distinguished through several characteristics such as the simple and opposite leaves, leaves margin entire and intrapetiolar stipules with joined, wholly or partly petals with an inferior ovary.

Mycetia is one of the genera in Rubiaceae which is easily distinguished by the shape of its fruit and flower. One of the species, Mycetia malayana, is native to Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo (Wong et al., 2019). This species also grows in lowland to hill forests, and can also be found in limestone forests.

Mycetia malayana is usually a shrub but can grow up to 4 meters in height. This species can be recognised by its hairy leaves, inflorescences at the terminal and the main branches of inflorescences in a zig-zag arrangement. The flowers are cream to whitish with the calyx lobes fringed and tiny gland on the stalk (Ridley, 1923).


  1. Ridley, H.N. (1923). The Flora of the Malay Peninsula, Volume 2. L. Reeve & co, ltd, London. pp. 63.
  2. Wong, K.M. (1989). Rubiaceae. In Ng, F.S.P (Ed.), Tree Flora of Malaya, Volume 4. Longman Malaysia, Petaling Jaya. pp. 325.
  3. Wong, K.M., Turner, I.M. & Wang, R.J. (2019). Rubiaceae. In Middleton, D.J. (Ed.), Flora of Singapore, Volume 13. Singapore Botanic Gardens. pp. 197.
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