Cleistanthus malaccensis

Family : Phyllanthaceae

Text © Pietro Puccio


English translation by Mario Beltramini


The species is native to Peninsular Malaysia where it grows in the forests at low altitudes.

The name of the genus is the combination of the Greek adjective “κλειστός” (cleistόs) = closed and of the substantive “ἄνθος” (ánthos) = flower; the Latin specific name “malaccensis” = of Malacca, location on the western coast of Malaysia, refers to the origin place.

The Cleistanthus malaccensis Hook.f (1887) is a shrub or small tree very ramified with branches tendentially drooping and pale brown bark. The leaves, on an about 1 cm long petiole, are alternate, almost distichous, simple, oblong-elliptic to lanceolate with pointed apex and entire margin, 8-15 cm long and 1,5-4,5 cm broad, of intense green colour and glossy above, green grey below; the young leaves are of a glossy intense pink colour. The inflorescences are villous axillar spikes bearing tiny unisexual sessile flowers of whitish colour, with lobes of the calyx ovate and spatulate petals in the male flowers, lobes of the calyx lanceolate and rounded petals in the female ones. The fruits are trilocular dehiscent capsules.

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Cleistanthus malaccensis is a much ramified small tree of Peninsular Malaysia. It is noted due to the young drooping leaves, glossy intense pink, in elegant contrast with the rest of the foliage. Phenomenon present in various species, linked to a transitory excess of anthcyanins. A defense of the plant, but it is not well known against what © Giuseppe Mazza

It usually reproduces by seed, previously kept in water for one day, in organic loam with addition of siliceous coarse sand or agri-perlite per a 30% maintained humid at the temperature of 24-26 °C.

Very ornamental species due to the luxuriant foliage and the colour of the young leaves that stands out against the deep green, but rarely cultivated, present outside the places of origin almost exclusively in botanical gardens. Cultivable in the tropical and humid subtropical climate zones, requires full sun or slight shade and is not particular about the soil, provided draining, maintained almost constantly humid.

Synonyms: Kaluhaburunghos malaccensis (Hook.f.) Kuntze (1891).


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