Helicteres hirsuta (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Helicteres hirsuta Lour.

Family: Sterculiaceae


Helicteres hispida (C. Presl) Walp., H. oblonga G. Don, H. spicata Colebr. ex G. Don.

Vernacular names

  • Pink isora (En)
  • Indonesia: jelumpang, kucingan abang (Javanese), kekusin hendak (Lampung)
  • Philippines: malamansanita (Ilokano, Tagalog), tongtongking (Amburayan), buntot-usa (Tagalog)
  • Cambodia: priël chrouk, kantuy kâmprôk
  • Thailand: khee on, potaohai
  • Vietnam: duôi chôn.


From India through Burma (Myanmar), Thailand and Indo-China to southern China, the Philippines and Java.


The fibrous bast is made into rough cordage. In Sumatra this is done by tearing the bast into narrow strips, which are dried and twisted into rope. The fibre strips obtained from H. hirsuta are harsh, stiff and light brown-yellow. Contradictory reports exist on the durability of H. hirsuta cordage under humid conditions. The rope made in Sumatra is said to be made and used in the dry season only.


A straggling shrub, 1-2.5 m tall, densely covered with stellate hairs which are not viscid. Leaves lanceolate to elliptical, up to 22 cm × 8 cm, rather rough above. Inflorescence spiciform to racemose, 6 cm long with flowers usually dark red or pink and bearing a large, sessile red-purple gland at base, gynandrophore 1-2 cm long, petals 1-3 cm. Fruit composed of 5 follicles, straight (not twisted), up to 4 cm long, woolly hairy. In Java H. hirsuta is found up to 1200 m altitude in brushwood, fences, forest and grassy wilds. In the Philippines it is found at low and medium altitudes in thickets, clearings and secondary forest. H. hirsuta flowers year-round in Java, but flowering and fruiting in Indo-China have been recorded from July to November. In studies in Indo-China in the 1940s, the fibre of H. hirsuta , separated by retting for 8 days, contained 55% cellulose, 17% pentosans, 14% lignin and 1% ash. In Philippine studies in the 1910s, dry and wet rope made from the bast of H. hirsuta had a mean tensile strength of 438 kg per cm² and 396 kg per cm², respectively. The elongation at break of dry or wet rope was 13%.

Selected sources

19, 20, 21, 34, 36, 59, 71, 93, 147.


M. Brink, P.C.M. Jansen & C.H. Bosch