Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Macaranga bancana (Miq.) Műll.Arg.

Species:M. bancana
Common Names:Common Mahang


A small tree with an open and uneven crown. Its bark is pale-brown to whitish, mottled and smooth with small lenticels and hoop marks. Leaves are spiral, peltate and mainly tri-lobed, with a finely-toothed margin. The under surface of young leaves are often reddish purple. Petioles and twigs are glabrous (smooth). Twigs are hollow and have small openings for ants. Stipules are reddish-brown and conspicuous, semi-persistent and recurved, surrounding the twig. Flowers are minute and arranged on panicles. Male and female inflorescences are branched and found on different trees. Fruits measure 5–7 by 10–11 mm, are bright green, subglobose with short pointed swellings on the carpel walls.

Commonly mistaken as M. triloba previously, which differ in its solid twigs,erect stipules and fruits with long horn-like processes.

Read more about the Malpighiales order.
Read more about the Euphorbiaceae family.


Peninsular Thailand, Malay Peninsula, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo


Bukit Batok Nature Park, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Southern Ridges

General Biology

An early successional tree found in disturbed places, forest edges and gaps in lowland primary forest and secondary forests below 700 m. It grows on both clayey and sandy soil, preferring the latter. 

Ecological Role

The Common Mahang has a mutualistic relationship with ants (genus Crematogaster), which live in the hollow twigs. The seedlings may be inhabitated by ants when they are less than half a meter tall. The ants protect the plant presumably from herbivores and climbers. The plant produces food for the ants, in the form of Beccarian bodies, which are rich in lipids. Within the plant stem, the ants harvest scale insects. The scale insects suck sugary sap from the plant and and exude a sweet excretion through their bodies that the ants feed on. 

The fruit capsules of the Common Mahang are sought after by birds. In fact this excellent bird tree, attracts sunbirds, iroa and flycatchers, bulbuls, hanging-parrots, spiderhunters and many others.

Other Resources




Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp.

Corner, E.J.H. 1997. Wayside trees of Malaya. The Malayan Nature Society. Volume 1. 476 pages.

LaFrankie, J.V. Jr. 2010. Trees of tropical Asia: an illustrated guide to diversity. Black Tree Publications Inc. Philippines, 750 pages.

Rico-Gray, V. & Oliveira, P.S. 2007. The ecology and evolution of ant-plant interactions. The University of Chicago Press. 331 pages.

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