Uvaria grandiflora (Lesch. ex DC.) Roxb.

Uvaria grandiflora (Lesch. ex DC.) Roxb.

Family Name: Annonaceae
Synonyms: Unona rubra C.B.Rob., Uvaria rhodantha Hance ex Walp., Uvaria platypetala Champ. ex Benth., Unona purpurea Blume
Common Name: Red Hot Poker, Pisang Akar, Akar Larak, 山椒子, 山椒, 大花紫玉盘

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Climber, Vine & Liana
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 10 m


Native Distribution Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Borneo, and Java
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Vulnerable (VU))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a woody, scrambling climber or shrub, up to 10 m tall.
Foliage Its alternate, stalked leaves have thinly membranous blades that are oblong-lance shaped to elliptic-oblong, shiny dark green above and pale green below, and 11–23 by 6–9.5 cm. Its midrib is slightly depressed above, prominent beneath, and veins are prominent on both sides. The leaf stalks and young leaves are hairy.
Stems The young stems are pubescent to tomentose.
Flowers The solitary, bisexual flowers are opposed to the leaves and measure about 9 to 11 cm wide. The calyx consists of 3 yellowish sepals which are 2 to 2.5 cm long and are broadly triangular in shape. The corolla consists of 6 dark red obovate to ovate petals, 3.5 to 4 cm long. The flowers are slightly fragrant.
Fruits Its orange and fleshy fruits compose of distinct, hairy fruitlets or carpels, each fruitlet is berry-like and cylindrical, 4–5.5 cm long, being slightly constricted around the brown seeds.  Each fruit contains seeds that are flat, pale brown, and oval-shaped arranged in 2 rows.
Habitat It grows in inland forests.
Associated Fauna It is the preferred local food plant for caterpillars of the butterfly swallowtail (Graphium antiphates).
Cultivation It is drought-tolerant.
Etymology Genus ‘Uvaria’ means resembling a bunch of grapes, a reference to the clustered berries.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : Its fruits are aromatic, eaten raw or preserved.;Herb and Spice)
Medicinal ( In Malaysia, the leaves and roots are cooked and eaten to treat abdominal pains and skin diseases. The pounded leaves are used to treat putrefaction.  )
[Others]: Its climbing stems are said to be good substitutes for rattans.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for parks and gardens, on trellises and pergolas.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Bark, Flowers)
Plant & Rootzone Preference – Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Moist Soils
Landscape Uses General, Vertical Greenery / Green Wall, Parks & Gardens, Trellis / Arbour / Pergola
Thematic Landscaping Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Butterfly Food Plant, Caterpillar Food Plant (Leaves)
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Butterfly, Moth), Insects (Ant, Beetle, Fly, Thrip, Wasp))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery, Raised / Sunken Veins, Glossy / Shiny, Thin
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical, Oblong, Oblanceolate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire – Wavy / Undulate, Entire
Foliar Apex – Tip Caudate
Foliar Base Acute
Typical Foliar Area Macrophyll ( 182.25cm2 – 1640.25 cm2 )

Non – Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Orange, Red
Flower Grouping Solitary, Cluster / Inflorescence

Larak root (Uvaria grandiflora) is a creeping shrub (Liana) and propagates on rebuttal trees, the maximum height of this plant is 10 m. Broadleaf, single leaf with a size of 11-23 x 6-9.5 cm, Elliptic-Oblong leaf type. Hairy stems and young leaves.

Uvaria grandiflora
Photograph by: Wallich, N., Plantae Asiaticae Rariores, vol. 2: t. 121 (1831) [Gorachand]
Uvaria grandiflora flower
Uvaria grandiflora flower

The solitary and bisexual flowers are opposite to the leaves and are about 9 to 11 cm long. The petals consist of 3 yellowish petals, 2 to 2.5 cm long with a triangular shape. The corolla consists of 6-7 oval, dark red petals and is obovate in shape, 3.5 to 4 cm long. Slightly floral fragrance.


Uvaria grandiflora fruit

Young fruit is green-gray and hairy when ripe fruit is yellow-orange, fleshy fruit with a length of about 4-5.5 cm. pale brown seed color

Uvaria grandiflora
Uvaria grandiflora

Uvaria grandiflora leaves

Distribution :

This plant is spread from southern China, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia.

Habitats :

This plant can grow in primary forest and secondary forest. where it grows from an altitude of 15 – 1000 meters above sea level. in South China it is found at an altitude of 400-1000 meters above sea level. In Bengkulu itself, I just saw this plant in the Bengkulu University Campus Forest.

Uvaria grandiflora fruit
Uvaria grandiflora fruit

Medicinal plants :

This plant is used as a medicinal plant, where the leaves and roots are cooked and eaten to treat stomach aches and skin diseases.

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