Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Fagraea fragrans Roxb.

Species:F. fragrans
Common Names:Tembusu


This is a tall, slow-growing, native tree that can grow to 35 m tall. It has a conical crown when young, becoming irregularly shaped when old. The trunk bark is irregularly and deeply fissured, and ranges from dark brown to black. The opposite, stalked leaves have elliptic leaf blades. This species usually flowers and fruits twice a year in Singapore: a rare example of regular seasonality in the local flora. The fragrant flowers grow in many-flowered clusters, each bearing a funnel-shaped, yellow corolla, and are pollinated at night by moths. The fruit is round, orange turning to scarlet when ripe, containing many minute seeds. These fruits are eaten by fruit bats and by some birds, particularly starlings.

Read more about the Gentianales order.
Read more about the Gentianaceae family.


Tembusu grows naturally in secondary forests in Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Kent Ridge Park, Sentosa, Singapore Botanic Gardens, St John's Island.

Locality Map

General Biology

Tembusu is a common species frequently found in secondary forests. It is also a commonly cultivated ornamental tree of streets, parks, and gardens.

Human Uses

The yellow timber is strong, hard, and durable, but no longer commercially available, although the limited quantities are used for making chopping boards.


Tan, H.T.W., 2011. Tembusu. Pp. 477. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors), Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development. Editions Didier Millet, Singapore, 552 pp.

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