Mesua lepidota (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Mesua lepidota T.Anderson

Protologue: Guttiferae


Kayea lepidota (T.Anderson) Pierre, K. parviflora Ridl.

Vernacular names

  • Malaysia: penaga bayan, penaga tikus (Peninsular).


Malaysia (Peninsular), Indonesia (Sumatra).


Upon wounding, all parts, but especially the bark, exude an aromatic resin that can be used as a varnish after dilution with turpentine. The wood is a heavy hardwood, possibly used like penaga from Mesua ferrea L. (ironwood tree) for heavy construction, because both species are rather similar. An oil for lighting and perfumery can be extracted from the seeds. The oil is also used in traditional medicine for poulticing wounds and to treat skin eruptions. The tree is also a pleasing ornamental and shade tree along roadsides and in parks bearing fragrant flowers.


Tree, up to 20 m tall with trunk diameter of 40 cm; bole fluted at base, bark adherent scaly; inner bark pink-brown with translucent to clear, yellow, varnish-like exudate. Leaves opposite, simple, entire; petiole about 5 mm long; blade oblong-elliptical, 8-15 cm × 3-5 cm, base wedge-shaped, margin slightly recurved, apex acuminate. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary umbel consisting of 1-3-flowered racemes, up to 6 cm long; flowers bisexual, on a pedicel with small paired bracts; sepals 4, decussate, rounded, 5 mm in diameter; petals 4, very narrowed at base with a roundish apical part about 8 mm in diameter, white or pink. Fruit a globose capsule, 2.5 cm in diameter, thick and woody, seated on the persistent, usually reflexed, thick-woody sepals. M. lepidota grows in lowlands and plains, sometimes in seasonal swamp forest. A form occurring in the hills of Peninsular Malaysia with smaller leaves and flowers has been distinguished as var. parviflora (Ridl.) Whitmore.

Selected sources

11, 24, 36, 45.