Fagraea fragrans (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Fagraea fragrans Roxb.

Protologue: Fl. Ind. 2: 32 (1824).


Fagraea wallichiana Benth. (1856), Fagraea cochinchinensis A. Chev. (1919), Fagraea sororia J.J. Smith (1923), Fagraea gigantea Ridley (1927).

Vernacular names

  • Ironwood (En)
  • Indonesia: ki badak (Sundanese), kayu tammusu (Sumatra), ambinaton (Kalimantan)
  • Malaysia: tembusu hutan (general), tembusu padang, tembusu tembaga (Peninsular)
  • Philippines: urung (general), dolo (Tagbanua), susulin (Tagalog). Burma (Myanmar): anan, ahnyim
  • Cambodia: tatraou
  • Laos: man pa
  • Thailand: kankrao (central), man pla (northern), thamsao (peninsular)
  • Vietnam: trai.


India (Bengal), Burma (Myanmar), the Andaman Islands, Indo-China, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, the south-western Philippines and Yapen Island (Irian Jaya); naturalized in West Java.


F. fragrans is the main source of tembesu timber. The valuable and durable timber is used both as sawn wood as well as roundwood for posts and piles in the construction of houses, bridges and ships, and for railway sleepers, posts for electric and telephone lines, barrels, chopping blocks, furniture, cabinet work, door and window sills and wood carvings. Besides, the wood yields a very high-quality fuelwood and charcoal. The tree is planted as a shade and ornamental tree in parks and along roads, and for reforestation purposes. A decoction of the bark is used as a febrifuge, and a decoction of twigs and leaves is used to control dysentery.


A medium-sized or occasionally large tree up to 25(-55) m tall, bole up to 135(-250) cm in diameter, occasionally fluted or with buttresses up to 2.5 m high, bark surface deeply irregularly fissured, dark brown, inner bark brown to yellow; leaves oblong-lanceolate to obovate-oblong, 4-15 cm × 1.5-6 cm, apex usually short to long broadly acuminate, secondary veins slightly prominent to indistinct below, petiole 1-2.5 cm long, stipules rounded and partly free from the petiole; inflorescence axillary, pedicel with bracteoles at or below the middle; flowers fragrant, corolla tube narrowly funnel-shaped, 0.7-2.3 cm long, stigma capitate, faintly 2-lobed; fruit broadly ellipsoid, 0.7-1 cm long, orange or red. F. fragrans is highly variable. Some botanists do not agree with the broad concept of the species and split off F. gigantea (a large canopy tree with more regularly fissured bark and leaves with an undulating margin and only 5 or 6, not c. 8, pairs of secondary veins) and F. wallichiana (with broader leaves, larger flowers and larger more ellipsoid fruits) as distinct species. F. fragrans occurs in light primary and secondary forest in humid or seasonally inundated locations, but it avoids stagnant water. It grows well on poorly aerated, compact clay soils, and on poor sandy or shallow sandstone soils. In freshwater-swamp forest it is found in association with Melaleuca spp. It also occurs naturally as a pioneer in burnt-over areas and lalang grasslands. The density of the wood is 510-930 kg/m3at 15% moisture content. See also the table on wood properties.

Selected sources

20, 26, 31, 50, 69, 77, 99, 104, 115, 137, 153, 162, 163, 177, 216, 240, 289, 294, 360, 371, 393, 394, 404, 444, 462, 464, 465, 466, 474, 526, 527, 648, 657, 705, 720.