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Seashore and Beach Plants

Ardisia elliptica

Shoebutton Lampeni Myrsinaceae

Ardisia elliptica

 

Ardisia elliptica

Ardisia elliptica

A shrub growing to 5m tall, with a single stem producing short perpendicular branches. Leaves (10cm long) leathery with veins hardly visible, arranged in a spiral. Young leaves somewhat pinkish. Twigs are swollen at the base and easily detached. Flowers small (1cm across) star-shaped, with five petals white or pink, in a cluster of 6-8 flowers. Fruit small (0.5-1cm) red berries ripening to black. 'Mata pelandok' in Malay means 'Eye of the mousedeer' probably referring to its ripe black fruits. It is also called 'Mata ayam' or 'Eye of the chicken' and 'Mata itek' or 'Eye of the duck'.
From the structure of the flowers and the fact that these produce nectar and a fragrance, the plant seems to be pollinated by insects. But there are no records of flower visitors. It is said that birds and other small fruit-eating mammals eat the fruits.
Human uses: The young shoots were eaten in the Malay Peninsula. Medicinal uses include boiled leaves or roots used to treat heartache. Another Malay name is 'Daun bisa hati' or 'Heartache Leaf'. The Malays use a decoction of the leaves to treat heart pain. The leaves are used to treat scabies and intestinal worms.

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