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Deeringia polysperma (Roxb.) Moq.
by Mrs. Nor Ezzawanis Abdullah Thani

The family name Amaranthaceae is derived from the type genus,Amaranthus, to which ‘bayam’ (spinach), one of the popular vegetables in Peninsular Malaysia belongs. It is a large family worldwide consisting of herbs and shrubs that are distributed in tropical, subtropical to temperate regions.

Deeringia includes about 7 species distributed from Madagascar to Australia. In Peninsular Malaysia, it is represented by two species, Deeringia amaranthoides and D. polysperma.

Deeringia polysperma is distributed from Peninsular Malaysia to Sumatra, Java, the Philippines, Sulawesi, Maluku and New Guinea. In Peninsular Malaysia, it is mostly found on limestone, often at base of cliff faces. It is also recorded from granite rocks, usually in partly shaded places. Although widespread, it is not common.

It is a herb or undershrub 1–2 m tall. The young stems, petioles, leaves, rachises of the spikes, bracts and bracteoles are frequently covered with short, brown hairs that become glabrescent. Its leaves are slightly fleshy, ovate to elliptic, the base cuneate to shortly contracted, the apex acute to slightly acuminate. The inflorescences are spikes up to 12 cm long, usually unbranched, lax to dense. The flowers are quite sessile with very obtuse, white-bordered green tepals. The fruit is a globose or broadly ellipsoid berry, white when ripe, with many seeds.

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