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Syn: Melastoma octandrum L., Asterostoma octandra (L.) Blume, Osbeckia polycephala Naud., Osbeckia simsii DC.

Osbeckia octandra

Family: Melastomataceae

Description: The slender stems, often reaching up to two meters in height, bear glossy, elliptical leaves arranged alternately along the stem. Showcasing vibrant hues ranging from pink to red, its tubular flowers bloom in clusters at the terminal ends of branches, attracting pollinators with their sweet fragrance. Following pollination, the plant produces small, spherical fruits containing numerous tiny seeds. Osbeckia octandra finds various applications in traditional medicine, where extracts from its leaves and flowers are utilized for their purported anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, aiding in the treatment of various ailments including rheumatism and skin disorders. Additionally, its ornamental value makes it a prized choice in landscaping and horticulture, adorning gardens with its striking blooms and lush foliage.

Osbeckia octandra

Substitutions: Osbeckia stellata (Star-flowered Osbeckia) – It shares many characteristics with Osbeckia octandra, including its tropical evergreen shrub status, glossy leaves, and vibrant tubular flowers. Melastoma malabathricum (Indian rhododendron) – While it differs slightly in appearance, with broader leaves and larger flowers, it shares a tropical habitat and similar ornamental and medicinal uses.

Osbeckia octandra

Ecology: Osbeckia octandra thrives in tropical climates with warm temperatures and high humidity levels. It prefers well-draining soils rich in organic matter and slightly acidic to neutral pH levels. Adequate moisture is essential, though it should not be waterlogged.

Osbeckia octandra

General Distribution: Osbeckia octandra is commonly found across Southeast Asia, including countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. However, it is endemic to Sri Lanka, where it is often encountered in the island’s tropical forests, wetlands, and montane regions.

Osbeckia octandra

Author of text and photos: Chanduni Bootawatta.

Photographed in Sembuwatta, Sri Lanka on 14/01/2024.

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