Mesua ferrea (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Mesua ferrea L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 1: 515 (1753).

Vernacular names

  • Ceylon ironwood, Indian rose chestnut (En)
  • Indonesia: nagasari (Javanese), nagasari gede (Sundanese)
  • Malaysia: penaga, penaga lilin, lenggapus (Peninsular). Burma (Myanmar): ngaw, gangaw
  • Laos: ka thang, may lek
  • Cambodia: bos neak
  • Thailand: bunnak (general), saaraphi-doi (Chiang Mai)
  • Vietnam: vấp.


India, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Indo-China, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore; planted as an ornamental or shade tree elsewhere in the Malesian region.


M. ferrea is the most important source of penaga timber. Other uses as given for the genus. It is fairly common as an ornamental.


A medium-sized tree up to 30 m tall, bole straight, branchless for up to 20 m, up to 65 cm in diameter, fluted or with small buttresses at base, bark surface elongated, adherent scaly, irregularly fissured, dull brown to grey with a purplish tinge, inner bark brownish-red to red or pinkish, with sparse drops of clear whitish to pale yellow exudate, darkening upon exposure; leaves elliptical, 4.5-12.5 cm × 1-4 cm, base acute, glaucous white below, secondary and tertiary venation indistinct on both surfaces, petiole 4-8 mm long; flowers solitary or in pairs, up to 9 cm across; fruit ellipsoid, c. 3.5 cm long, seated on the persistent sepals. M. ferrea is common in evergreen forest on level or undulating land, also on ridges with shallow soils, from sea-level up to 500 m altitude, but planted up to 1300 m. The density of the wood is 940-1195 kg/m3at 15% moisture content. See also the table on wood properties.

Selected sources

19, 23, 24, 36, 40, 69, 70, 78, 104, 140, 175, 234, 275, 293, 371, 398, 465, 466, 497, 519, 520, 529, 579, 648, 670, 679, 705.