Flagellaria indica L.

Etymology Genus From 'flagella' (Latin), meaning 'whip', probably referring to the leaf tips
Species of India (Latin)
Family Flagellariaceae
Synonyms Flagellaria indica var. minor Hook.f.
Common Names False Rattan, Rotan Tikus
Status Native: Common
Form Climber
Native Distribution Tropical Africa, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, to Australia and the Pacific Islands


Flagellaria indica is a semi-woody forest plant that is easily recognised by its curling modified leaf tips, which form tendrils that can coil or twine tightly around other plants to enable it to climb. The stalk-less leaves are otherwise long and narrow, and resemble grass blades. When in flower, this plant has many-branched inflorescences which bear small white flowers in dense clusters. Its fruits are smooth, round, and ripen from green into a striking pink colour.

Interesting Facts:

This species is a food plant for the caterpillar of the large dart butterfly (Potanthus serina). Its slender, flexible but tough stems resemble those of rattans (climbing palms), and can likewise be used for weaving or stitching baskets, fish traps, and village roofs, although it is considered to be an inferior substitute. This accounts for its common names of 'False Rattan' or 'Rat's Rattan' (rotan tikus).

The climbing habit of the plant.

The slender stem, round in cross-section, resembles that of a climbing palm (rattan).

Flower buds.

Ripe fruits.

The distinctive tendrils found at the ends of leaves.


FloraFaunaWeb (n.d.) Flagellaria indica L. National Parks Board, Singapore. https://florafaunaweb.nparks.gov.sg. Accessed on 13-Jan-2019.

Wild Factsheets (10 Nov 2008) Rotan tikus. Wildsingapore. http://www.wildsingapore.com/wildfacts/index.html. Accessed on 13-Jan-2019.

Author: Louise
Posted: 2019-01-13