Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Melastoma malabatricum - Senduduk

Melastoma malabathricum is known as senduduk ( Malay ) or straits Rhododendron.  Together with some 50 other species, it is a member of the Melastomataceae family from S.E.Asia, India and Australia.

It is an evergreen shrub, up to 2 m tall.  
Grows well in most tropical habitat.  
Propagation via seeds.  Seeds dispersed by birds.

Stem with appressed scales.
Leaves ovate, hairy,  4-14cm length x 1.7-3.5cm width.
Flowers in clusters, produced at tip of shoots.  Petals reddish purple.
Fruit is a berry-like capsule with numerous seeds coated with red, sweet astringent pulp.

Seeds dimorphic, with and without embryo.  
Fertile seeds folded or spiral, triangular to D-shaped, 0.45-0.8m long x 0.35-0.5mm wide ; testa light yellow to dark cream coloured.  
Infertile seeds appear similar to fertile seeds but smaller, 0.3-0.5mm long x 0.2-0.3mm wide ; appeared collapsed, dented, or wringkled ; testa black or reddish-black.

Fruits is edible, sandy-feel taste, and stain the mouth and teeth dark-blued.  The fruits are also used to produce black dye. 
The roots are used to produce pink dye.

Due to its growth habit, it is regarded as noxious weed in many places.
However, regardless of its nuisance to human, it provides abundant food to birds, and other small mammals.  Its flowers attract butterflies, and its leaves host caterpillars.   

Flower, at full bloom

Matured fruit

Ripe fruit, cracked open


References :
1. Federal Nozious Weed Disseminules of the U.S.
2. Encyclopedia of Life
3. Wikipedia

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