Wrightia religiosa (Teijsm. & Binn.) Kurz

Etymology Genus After William Wright, a 19th century Scottish physician and botanist
Species Of religious significance: Thai Buddhists cultivated it at their temples
Family Apocynaceae
Synonyms Echites religiosus Teijsm. & Binn.
Common Names Water Jasmine, Wild Water Plum, Common Wrightia, Scared Buddha
Status Exotic: Casual
Form Shrub or small tree
Native Distribution Thailand, Cambodia, and Peninsular Malaysia


This plant is very recognisable by its numerous white flowers which bloom frequently. The flowers are five-petalled and have a "beak" at the centre. The leaves are thin, elliptic, oppositely arranged, and gives off white sap when broken.

Interesting Facts:

The Water Jasmine can grow up to 5m naturally (Middleton, 2007). However, its dwarfed appearance is more well-known in tropical bonsai, where it is probably one of the most popular species being used. The fruits are paired and elongated, which splits to reveal a row of seeds with fluffy white hairs.

Middleton (2007) indicated that the native distribution of Wrightia religiosa (indicated above) is obscured because of its wide-spread cultivation around the region.

A normal shrubby form.

A Water Jasmine bonsai.

Oppositely arranged elliptic leaves

The pendulous flowers.

Unripe paired fruits.

A Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker collecting the fluffy seeds in its mouth.


Middleton DJ. (2007) Apocynaceae (Subfamilies Rauvolfioideae and Apocynoideae). Flora Malesiana Volume 18. 474 pp.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2012-12-04 / Modified: 2018-11-16