Cyrtophyllum fragrans (Roxb.) DC.

Etymology Genus -
Species Fragrant; referring to the flowers
Family Gentianaceae
Synonyms Fagraea fragrans Roxb.
Common Names Tembusu, Ironwood
Status Native: Common
Form Tree
Native Distribution India, Papua New Guinea, Southeast Asia


Cyrtophyllum fragrans is a big tree of up to 30m, and is a common cultivated tree and in Adinandra belukar forest. The branching are very distinctive, extending outwards and then upwards like fingers. The bark is deeply fissured.

Interesting Facts:

Tembusu flowers seasonally, first in May or early June, followed by October or November (Corner, 1997). The flowers bloom about sunset, and produce a fragrant scent that is suspected to attract moths. The fruits developed about 3 months later.

It is also featured in Singapore's $5 bank note, which depicts an individual with a stray branch spreading horizontally. The tree still stands presently in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Dense planting of Tembusu in Pearl's Hill City Park.

At Bidadari Cemetery, showing the upward pointing branches.

Heavy fissured bark

Leaves arranged in a whorl.




Minute seeds.

Our $5 note featuring the iconic Tembusu situated in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.


Corner EJH. (1997) Wayside Trees of Malaya. Volume 2. 4th edition. The Malaysian Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. 297 pp.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2019-01-05