Phyllanthus pulcher (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Phyllanthus pulcher Wallich ex Muell. Arg.

Protologue: Linnaea 32: 49 (1863).


  • Diasperus pulcher (Wallich ex Muell. Arg.) Kuntze (1891).

Vernacular names

  • Malaysia: kelurut tanjong, naga buana, semelit patong
  • Thailand: kaang plaa (peninsular), trueng baa daan (south-western), waan thoraanee saan (Bangkok)
  • Vietnam: me lá lệch.


P. pulcher is found from Burma (Myanmar) and Indo-China towards Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, Java and the Lesser Sunda Islands; cultivated in Sri Lanka, Tanzania and the West Indies; occasionally escaping.


In Peninsular Malaysia, a decoction is drunk to relieve stomach-ache, or is used as an eyewash. Poultices are applied to the skin to treat boils, gumboils, swellings and itch, to the nose to treat ulceration, and to the abdomen to treat fever or, in children, kidney trouble. Leaves may be applied to the gums to treat toothache. P. pulcher is also cultivated for ornamental purposes.


  • A monoecious, small shrub up to 1.5 m tall with phyllanthoid branching, younger branches with dendritic hairs; cataphylls persistent, with triangular-lanceolate stipules; deciduous branchlets 10-15(-18) cm long, with about 15-30 leaves.
  • Leaves oblong to elliptical or elliptical-ovate, 18-28 mm × 8-14 mm, strongly asymmetrical at base, apex abruptly pointed, very shortly petiolate, stipules persistent, triangular-lanceolate; proximal axils of deciduous branchlets with cymules of male flowers, distal ones with solitary female ones.
  • Male flowers with 4 calyx lobes, pale green with a dark red base and pale, fimbriate margin, disk segments 4, subpetaloid, stamens 2, filaments connate into a very short column, anthers fused, dehiscing horizontally, rudimentary pistil present; female flowers with 6 calyx lobes similar to those of the male flower but larger, disk cup-shaped and enclosing the base of the ovary, styles free, bifid nearly to the base.
  • Fruit a subglobose capsule, smooth, about 3 mm in diameter, pale brown, often not developed.

P. pulcher may be locally common and is found as an invasive plant in old forest clearings, or as a weed in fruit gardens and along rivers, but also scattered in evergreen forest, up to 700 m altitude.

Selected sources

32, 97, 202, 1126, 1135, 1187, 1380, 1555, 1564.

Main genus page


F.L. van Holthoon