Macaranga tanarius (PROSEA)

Plant Resources of South-East AsiaIntroduction List of species

Macaranga tanarius (L.) Muell. Arg.

Protologue: DC., Prodr. 15(2): 997 (1866). Family: Euphorbiaceae Chromosome number: 2n= 22


  • Macaranga molliuscula Kurz,
  • Macaranga tomentosa Blume,
  • Mappa tanarius (L.) Blume.

Vernacular names

  • Hairy mahang (En)
  • Brunei: sedaman buta buta
  • Indonesia: hanuwa (Ambon), mara (Sundanese), tutup ancur (Javanese), mapu (Batak)
  • Malaysia: kundoh, mahang puteh, tampu (Peninsular)
  • Papua New Guinea: tabi, tabu (New Britain)
  • Philippines: binunga, biluan (Tagalog), himindang (Bikol), kuyonon (Bisaya)
  • Thailand: hu chang lek (south-eastern), lo khao, mek (peninsular), ka-lo (Malay, Yala), paang (Chantaburi).
  • Vietnam: bach dâu nam, mã rạng

Origin and geographic distribution

M. tanarius has a very large area of distribution, from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Indo-China, southern China, Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands, Thailand, throughout Malesia, to northern and eastern Australia and Melanesia. It is commonly found in mainland South-East Asia (southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia), and on many Malesian islands (e.g. Sumatra, Borneo, the Lesser Sunda Islands, Sulawesi, New Guinea, throughout the Philippine Archipelago).


The bark contains tannin which is used for toughening fishing nets. Nets dipped in a decoction of the bark will stand the influence of sea-water for a considerable time. In Indonesia, the leaves have been reported to dye matting black, like other species of Euphorbiaceae do.

Bark and leaves are widely utilized in the Philippines in the preparation of a fermented drink called “basi” made from sugar cane. In Sumatra, fruits are added to palm juice when it is boiled down, improving the quality of the sugar produced.

In Indonesia and the Philippines, the kino tapped from the bark is used as a glue, particularly for fastening together parts of musical instruments.

The timber is not used on a large scale, but in Sumatra it is used to make ladders for picking pepper and in the Philippines wooden shoes are made from it, whereas in Malaysia it serves to build temporary houses. The bark is used for making food containers in Sumatra.

The medicinal uses are numerous. In the Philippines, the powdered root is used as an emetic to treat fever, and a decoction of the root against haemoptysis. In the Moluccas (Indonesia) and New Britain (Papua New Guinea), the leaves have been used internally to treat dysentery and as an abortifacient. In Peninsular Malaysia, pounded leaves are applied to wounds, and an infusion of the root internally to treat fever. In Brunei smoke from burning leaves is considered a general ailment of the body.

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The tannin content of the bark is not high, only slightly exceeding 2%. This makes the bark unsuitable for tanning leather, but it is suitable for tanning fishing nets. The addition of leaves of M. tanarius stimulates the fermentation of sugar cane molasses, and consequently increases the alcoholic yield of the beverage prepared from it. Stem and leaves contain diterpenoids (e.g. macarangonol), triterpenoids (e.g. friedelin, ß-amyrin), and steroids (e.g. sitosterol). The bark contains ellagic acid, a tannin constituent.

The timber is soft and light, about 500 kg/m3air dry. It is not durable and not resistant to termite attack, but it is fairly tough. The grain is straight or only shallowly interlocked, the texture is moderately fine and even.


  • A small to medium-sized dioecious tree up to 20 m tall, usually much shorter; branches rather thick, glaucous, pubescent when young.
  • Leaves alternate; blade peltate, suborbicular, 8-32 cm × 5-28 cm, rounded at base, acuminate at apex, entire, sometimes denticulate or slightly lobed, with distinct veins, hairy when young; petiole 6-27 cm long, with large caducous stipules at base.
  • Flowers in axillary, paniculate inflorescences, composed of bracts enclosing clusters of flowers; male flowers minute, many in a cluster, with (3-)5-6(-10) stamens, female flowers few in a cluster, with a subovoid, glandular, 2-celled ovary and 2 large stigmas.
  • Fruit a 2-coccous capsule, about 1 cm in diameter, with long soft prickles, yellowish glandular outside.
  • Seeds globose, about 5 mm in diameter, rugose.

M. tanarius is an anemophilous plant.

Some other Malesian species of the genus Macaranga Thouars contain enough tannin for potential use for tanning nets or leather. One of these is M. triloba (Blume) Muell. Arg., rich in tannin but apparently not used for tanning.


M. tanarius is often very common in secondary forest, especially in logging areas. It is also found in thickets, brushwoods, village groves, and beach vegetation. It occurs on clayey, loamy and sandy soils, usually in the lowlands, but in Java it is found up to 1500 m altitude.

Handling after harvest

After the tree has been felled, the bark is removed in large sheets, cut into strips of ca. 1.5 m × 0.2 m and dried in the sun. The pieces of bark are packed in bundles and sold for tanning or for use in the preparation of “basi” drink in the Philippines. Leaves gathered from under the tree and dried are sometimes used for the latter purpose.

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M. tanarius has never been used extensively, but nevertheless it can serve several purposes: as tanning material, as glue, as an addition to beverages, as timber and as medicine. It seems worthwhile to do research on the different aspects of the potential uses of this species which is locally so common in types of vegetation strongly affected by man.


  • Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink, R.C., 1963. Flora of Java. Vol. 1. Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands. p. 488.
  • Brown, W.H., 1954. Useful plants of the Philippines. Vol. 2. Reprint of the 1941-1943 ed. Technical Bulletin 10. Bureau of Printing, Manila. pp. 316-318, fig. 156.
  • Sastri, B.N. (Editor), 1962. The wealth of India. Raw materials. Vol. 6. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. p. 203.
  • Walker, E.H., 1976. Flora of Okinawa and the southern Ryukyu Islands. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. pp. 641-642, fig. 95.

19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 62, 87, 117, 121, 195, 197, 334, 347, 542, 577, 731, 760, 883, 990. medicinals

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