Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Rhodamnia cinerea Jack

Species:R. cinerea
Common Names:Silverback, Poyan Tree, Mempoyan


It is a small tree that grows up to 15 m. The name 'Silverback'  was given due to the silvery underside of the leaves for individuals growing in open country. The leaves (2–7 cm) are simple, opposite, oblong, with three main longitudinal veins.

The clustered flowers are small, white and fragrant, reddish at the centre.

The fruits are berries that turn from green to red then black when mature. Each has 3–8 seeds.

Read more about the Myrtales order.
Read more about the Myrtaceae family.


Indochina, Malesia


Bukit Batok Nature Park, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Kent Ridge, Southern Ridges, St John's Island

Life Cycle

The fruits are eaten and dispersed by birds, squirrels, bats, and monkeys.

Ecological Role

Being tolerant to harsh conditions, it is one of the pioneers in colonising bare land. Hence it is commonly found in secondary forests or 'belukar', but not in primary forests.

Human Uses

Old Malay houses were constructed using the hard wood from R. cinerea.

The leaves and roots of this species are also used by Malays for traditional medicine.


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., 1988. Wayside Trees of Malaya. Third Edition. Volumes 1-2. Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. 861 pp.

Keng, H., 1990. The Concise Flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Singapore University Press, Singapore. 222 pp.

National Parks Board, 2009. Trees of Our Garden City (2nd edition). National Parks Board, Singapore. 384 pp.

Rao, A. N. & Y. C. Wee, 1989. Singapore Trees. Singapore Institute of Biology, Singapore. 357 pp.

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