The Pentapetes Page

Pentapetes phoenicea L.

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Partial Synonymy of Asian Dombeyoid Genera


Pentapetes is a monotypic genus of annual, scarlet-flowered, malvaceous herbs from south and south east Asia, extending from India to the Philippines, and to the northern coast of the Australian Northern Territory. It is a weed of rice fields; is said to have medicinal and culinary uses; and is grown as an ornamental.


Pentapetes is a monotypic genus, belonging to subfamily Dombeyoideae of family Malvaceae. It was previously placed in Sterculiaceae, and usually in the tribe Dombeyeae, but Sprengler (1826) raised it to the rank of family, as Pentepeteae (now written Pentapetaceae). Other species have in the past been included in Pentapetes, but are now placed in Dombeya, Melhania, Pterospermum, Trochetia and Trochetiopsis. The identity of Pentapetes alba is unclear, but its description does not match Pentapetes phoenicea, so it is probably not the white-flowered form of Pentapetes phoenicea.

The position of the species has not yet been investigated by molecular techniques, but an examination of its morphology suggests that it is most closely related to two other Asian genera, Corchoropsis and Paradombeya.

Pentapetes phoenicea L.
 Simine, Noon Plant
 Copper Cups, Florimpia, Midday Flower, Noon Flower, Scarlet-flowered Pentapetes, Scarlet Mallow, Scarlet Pentapetes
 flor de a las doce
 Doopaha're, dopahariyā
 bandhujibak, bāndhūlī, bẫdhūlī
 bandhujiva, arkavallabha, bandhūka
 uccittilakam, nagappu
 Baan Thiang, ปอเส็ง
 Ngũ phướng
 wu shi hua

Pentapetes phoenicea is an erect, branched, annual herb reaching 5 to 6 feet in height, but often considerably shorter, with a long flowering season in the summer and autumn. It is grows in moist locations, including rice fields, in which it is a weed.

The stems and foliage are mostly glabrous, with a few scattered stellate hairs. The stems are green. The leaves are petiolate, stipulate, alternate, linear-lanceolate, crenate or serrate, and variably hastate or sagittate. The petioles are short (1-2.5 cm long) in comparison to the blades which are 5-10 cm long and 1-2 cm wide. The stipules are triangular. The base of the blade is variably triangular, round or truncate, and the apex acuminate. In spite of the narrow shape of the blade it is palmately 3-5 veined at the base.

The flowers open around noon, and close the following dawn. They are borne singly or in pairs, on short stalks arising from the leaf axils. They are involucellate, bearing 3 asymetrically disposed, subulate, bracteoles. The involucel is caducous, i.e. falls early from the flower. The calyx is composed of 5 lanceolate sepals, which are valvate in bud, and joined at their bases. They have a covering of stellate hairs, with a few simple hairs. They are persistent in fruit. The petals also number 5. They are obovate, and convolute in bud. They are scarlet in colour. There is a short staminal column, of similar colour to the petals, bearing 5 triplets of short golden-yellow fertile stamens, interposed with 5 ligulate (strap-like) staminodes. The staminodes are yellow and red (yellow below and red above, but with some variation on the distribution of the colours), erect, and nearly as long as the petals. The anthers are two-celled and extrorse. The ovary is ovoid in shape, and villous. It is 5-celled, each cell containing many ovules. There is a single, slender, undivided, style, which is twisted and thickened towards the apex, and bears 5 minute stigmas. This style is comparable in length to the staminodes.

The fruit is a 5-valved, loculidally dehiscent, prolately subglobose capsule, up to 1.2 cm in length. It is densely covered with stellate hairs, and half the length of the persistent calyx.. Each cell contains 8 to 12 seeds, borne in two rows.

The seeds are elliptic in overall shape, but with indistinct angles imposing a roughly tetrahedral form. They are unwinged, constrasting with the seeds of the related Pterospermum. The surface is rough. They have two-partite plicate cotyledons. Endosperm is present.

A white-flowered form has been recorded, as has a pink-flowered form.


Pentapetes is native to a wide region of tropical South Asia from Ceylon and India to northern Australia and the Philippines, including India [1], Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma [1], Thailand, and Australia (coastal areas of Northern Territory), and is cultivated in southern China (Hong Kong, Guangdong, Guangxi, Sichuan, S. Yunnan) [2], Japan [3], the southern United States and Cuba. It is naturalised in Puerto Rico [4], Cuba and Belize.


Pentapetes phoenicea is grown from seed. The growing medium should be kept moist. It does not self-pollinate, and intervention may be required to obtain seeds. (Plants I placed outside in late summer when already flowering, to give access to pollinators, did not produce seed, but plants left indoors did produce seed - in late autumn - perhaps as a consequence of the introduction of weevils to the vicinity with collected Malva sylvestris seed.)

In cooler climates Pentapetes phoenicea does not thrive outdoors, and it is necessary to grow it indoors. It is not only frost sensitive, but chilling sensitive,


Pentapetes phoenicea's most important economic impact may be negative - as a weed of rice fields. However it is grown in a small way as an ornamental. It has also been used as a source of fibre, and medicinally.


Synonyms of Pentapetes phoenicea include Blattaria phoenicea Kuntze, Brotera phoenicea (L.) Cav., Dombeya phoenicea Cav., Eriorhaphe phoenicea (L.) Bamps, Eriorhaphe punicea Miq., Pentapetes angustifolia Blume, Pentapetes cebuana Blanco and Pentapetes coccinea Blanco.



  1. Masters, Maxwell T. in Hooker, J.D., The Flora of British India 1: 317-399 (1875)
  2. Wu, Z. Y., P. H. Raven & D. Y. Hong, eds, Flora of China 12: 326 (2007)
  3. Michiharu Naka, personal communication (2003)
  4. USDA Plants
  5. Jean-Pierre-Etienne Vaucher, Histoire physiologique des plantes d'Europe (1841)
  6. Achille Richard, Botanique : plantes vasculaires (1845)
  7. Miquel, Flora Indiae Batavae (1859)

Malvaceae Info (home)
The Pentapetes Gallery
Partial Synonymy of Asian Dombeyoid Genera