Melastoma malabathricum subsp. malabathricum

Apologies for the lack of entries — it’s all on me and my (lack of) time, as I now have a good-sized backlog of entries from Taisha. She’s written today’s entry:

Today’s images (original 1 | original 2) of Melastoma malabathricum subsp. malabrathricum, commonly known as blue tongue or Malabar melastome or native lasiandra, were taken on April 17, 2011 by long-time BPotD contributor Andreas Lambrianides. Thank you for all of your wonderful photos and for today’s pictures!

Melastoma malabathricum subsp. malabrathricum of the Melastomataceae is native to tropical Asia, Taiwan, parts of Australia, Mauritius and Seychelles. In Australia, typical habitats include roadsides, disturbed rain forest areas and other wet forests. The Flora of China’s account seems to take a broader view of the species (Melastoma malabathricum), so the habitat includes more environments and the species distribution is wider.

The 3m tall stem of this shrub and its branches are covered in appressed scales. As shown in the photographs, the elliptical or ovate leaves are hairy and have a midrib with 2 to 3 longitudinal veins on either side. The terminal clusters of 3-7 flowers are purple-reddish in color with two leaf-like bracts at the base. The fruit is a densely hair-covered fleshy capsule. It dehisces to reveal a dark pulp with small orange seeds that are dispersed by birds.

According to Malay, Indian and Indonesian folk medicine, different parts of Melastoma malabrathicum are thought to have medicinal value for the treatment of a variety of ailments. There are also several prospective pharmacological uses, but in-depth scientific studies first must be completed to verify their potential (see: Joffry, SM., et al. 2011. Melastoma malabrathicum (L.) Smith ethnomedicinal uses, chemical constituents, and pharmacological properties: A review. Evid. Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012: 258434. doi:10.1155/2012/258434).

Melastoma malabathricum subsp. malabathricum
Melastoma malabathricum subsp. malabathricum

9 responses to “Melastoma malabathricum subsp. malabathricum”

  1. Judy Sinclair

    Splendid photos of this beautiful blossom. Thank you for them and the information about this plant.

  2. Bonnie

    Great photo with the drops!

  3. Steve

    Commonly known in Fla as Tibochina!

  4. David Tarrant

    Good to see this particular Melastoma featured.
    It has obviously been introduced to the Hawaiian Islands and is quite widely distributed on the Island of Kauai, with dense populations above the highway 50 above Hudson Gap on the way to Poipu. And on the beautiful Kuilua Trail just above Wailua’s Keahua Arboretum.
    Thank you for yet another interesting entry on this amazing site.

  5. elizabeth a airhart

    I live in florida lovely plant flowers are so pretty
    thank you Daniel and comppany

  6. Richard

    Certainly looks like a tibochina u., any relationship??

  7. Nette

    @ Richard: Just looked this up. “The family Melastomataceae (alternatively Melastomaceae) is a taxon of dicotyledonous flowering plants found mostly in the tropics (two thirds of the genera are from the New World tropics) comprising some 200 genera and 4500 species. Melastomes are annual or perennial herbs, shrubs, or small trees.” Tibouchina is listed among those 4500 species.

  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Thanks Nette. Tibouchina and Melastoma do look similar. I can’t point to a specific reference, but one gets the idea that there has been confusion in the past differentiating the two by searching for both names together. There is some discussion about it here.

  9. Daniel Mosquin

    Arthur Berlowitz, Officer in Charge with the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine sent along the following comment:
    “Thank you for the great service you provide. It is both interesting and highly useful. In regard to Melastoma malabathricum, it is included on the list of Federal Noxious Weeds in the United States. All propagules from all origins are prohibited entry into the U.S.”

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