Neesia Notes

Malvaceae Info (Home)
Synonymy of Durioneae


Neesia is a genus of 8 species of Malvaceous trees, currently placed in subfamily Helicteroideae and tribe Durioneae. In common with the remainder of tribe Durioneae Neesia was previously placed in Bombacaceae (subfamily Bombacoideae). In a number of earlier works it can be found placed in Tiliaceae.

The distribution of Neesia is confined to South East Asia (western Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and possibly Burma).

The genus was introduced in 1835 [a], replacing Esenbeckia (1825) as that name is precluded by its earlier use for a rutaceous genus. Neesia is a conserved name; it was earlier (1818) used for a genus of composites (Diotis). It was revised in 1961 [b]. The type species is Neesia altissima [1] (Blume) Blume.

The genus is distinguished from other genera of Durioneae by the possession of a endocarp densely hirsute with irritant hairs.

Species of Neesia are tall trees, which are exploited as a source of timber. (In the timber trade the name durian is used for both Durio and Neesia.) The timber is light, and is suitable for light construction, cheap furniture and fittings, flooring, planking, wooden shoes, floats, low grade coffins, sliced veneer and plywood.

The leaves are large, simple, oblong in outline, with an entire margin and a rounded or notched apex. They are pinnately nerved, with lepidote or stellate-tomentose undersurfaces. The large stipules are extrapetiolar, and may be either caducous or persistent.

The inflorescences are axillary cymes. The cymes are often short. The peduncles, pedicels and calyces are lepidote. The flowers possess an epicalyx, which, in bud, completely encloses the developing flower. As the flower develops it splits into 2 to 5 lobes, which soon fall off. The sepals are more or less entirely fused, disc, cup or tube with incurved margins. The corolla is said to be calyptriform. It is composed of 5 petals which fall early in the flowering process. The stamens are numerous. They are either connate only at the base, or shortly fused, or grouped into 5 distinct bundles. The anthers have two elongated, subparallel, locules, which are longitudinally dehiscent. The ovary is 5-locules. Each locule contains several ascending ovules. The style is short with a subcapitate stigma. The fruit is an ovoid, woody, loculicidally 5-valved capsule. It has a densely muricate exterior and a densely hirsute interior. The seeds are oblong, arillate and albuminous, with flat, foliaceous cotyledons. [1, 2]

Neesia aquatica is widely mentioned in the context of regional variations in Orang-Utang culture. (The fruits of Neesia are a significant component of the diet of Orang-Utangs, who use tools - sticks - to separate the irritant hairs from the edible portions of the fruit.) I am unaware of the status of this name.

Neesia is also a genus of Nemertean worms.

Neesia altissima (Blume) Blume

Neesia altissima is found in Borneo, Java, Sumatra, Singapore, Malaya and Thailand. It is found in primary rainforest, at altitudes between 100 and 1800 m, often along streams or in freshwater swamps.

Neesia altissima grows to 115 to 130 feet in height. It has a stellate indumentum. It has small rose flowers and a large blackish-brown fruit. [3]

Synonyms:of Neesia altissima include Blumea altissima Rchb. ex Steud. , Cotylephora altissima Meisn., Esenbeckia altissima Blume, Neesia ambigua Becc. and Thespesia altissima (Blume) Spreng..

Neesia glabra Becc.

A species from Borneo.

Neesia kostermansiana Soepad.

A species from Malaya and Thailand.

Neesia malayana Bakh.

A species from Sumatra, Malaya and Thailand.

Neesia pilulifera Becc.

A species from Borneo.

Neesia purpurascens Becc.

A species from Borneo.

Neesia strigosa Mast.

A species from Malaya.

Neesia synandra Mast.
 mock durian
 apa apa

Neesia synandra is a tall tree with a stout trunk. The leaves 9-12 inches long by 4-5 inches wide, with an oblong outline, a cordate base, an obtuse apex, and a coriaceous texture. The petiole is 2 inches long. The stipules are oblong, with a single median vein, and 1½ inches long. The peduncle is stout and angular. [4]


  1. Hutchinson, The genera of flowering plants. 2: 536-567 (1967)
  2. Kubitzki & Bayer, Malvaceae, in Kubitzki & Bayer, Fam. Gen. Vasc. Plants V: 265 (2003)
  3. Miquel, Flora Indiae Batavae: Dicotyledones polypetalae hypogynae: 206-207 (1859)
  4. Masters, Maxwell, T., in Hooker, J.D., Fl. Br. India 1: 352 (1875)
  5. IPNI (Neesia)


  1. Blume, Nova Acta Acad. Nat. Cur. 17, 1: 83, t. 6 (1835)
  2. Soepadmo, Reinwardtia 5: 481, figs. 1-14 (1961)