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Pternandra echinata Jack (Melastomataceae)
by Mrs. Syazwani Binti Azeman
© Syazwani bt. Azeman

Known as “Sial menahun” in Malay, Pternandra echinata, from the family Melastomataceae, is an evergreen, small to medium-sized tree that can grow up to 30 m tall. This tree is distributed in Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, the Riau Archipelago and Borneo. This species is common in primary and secondary lowland forests. It can also be found on forest edges and in thickets, up to 1,300 m above sea level. Pternandra echinata has also been found in swamp forests and along rivers (Faridah Hanum & Shamsul, 2004).

The bole is usually straight, up to 90 cm in diameter, with buttresses present in larger individuals. The bark is finely fissured and varies from dark grey to brown to yellow-brown. The leaves are simple, oppositely arranged, entire, 3-5-veined from the base and estipulate (having no stipules) (Faridah-Hanum & Shamsul, 2004). The inflorescence can be an axillary or terminal cyme, or sometimes umbel. Its flowers are either solitary or in clusters of 3–9, and smell mildly unpleasant. A flower has 4 lilac petals and bright yellow stamens. The fruit has tooth-like structures, is 8-20 mm wide, and turns from green to pale yellow and purple when ripe (Nparks Flora Fauna website, 2021).

Pternandra echinata is grown as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens for its attractive lilac flowers. A decoction of the pounded leaves can treat coughs and asthma, whereas a decoction of its roots is taken to treat childbirth complications. According to the Malaysia Plant Red List (Chua et al., 2010), its conservation status has not been evaluated (Chua et al., 2010).

References

  1. Chua, L.S.L., Suhaida, M., Hamidah, M. & Saw, L.G. (2010). Malaysia Plant Red List: Peninsular Malaysian Dipterocarpaceae. Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), Malaysia.
  2. Faridah-Hanum, I. & Shamsul, K. (2004). A guide to the common plants of Ayer Hitam Forest, Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia. Universiti Putra Malaysia Press, Serdang, Malaysia. pp. 220.
  3. National Parks Board Singapore, Flora Fauna Web. (2021). Pternandra echinata Jack. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.nparks.gov.sg/FloraFaunaWeb/Flora/3/0/3092
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