Melochia umbellata – Melochia
Other Common Names: Hierba del Soldado
Melochia umbellata is a small, flowering plant, which belongs to the mallow family, Malvaceae. Its specific name comes from the Latin word “umbellatus”, which is in reference to its inflorescence or flower clusters that are umbel-like. Its common names include Hierba del Soldado and Melochia.
It is considered as a shrub or small tree that usually grows from 2 to 15 meters or up to 50 feet in height. It is fast growing and lives well in monsoon and beach forests as well as in clearings and secondary vegetations, rocky slopes, and river edges. They have a rounded form and they usually stand out because of their remarkable foliage.
The bark of the Melochia is often used to make ropes or strings, because of its rubbery and fibrous quality. It also has a distinct pink and white, granular stripes in the outer blaze. Even the twig barks are strong and fibrous, with large pores prominent in its spongy center.
Melochia’s leaves are usually about 7.5 to 15 centimeters long and 5.5 to 11 centimeters wide. There are stellate or star-shaped hairs on the underside of young leaf blades, while veins and midribs usually radiate and spread from the base as they mature.
Small flowers grow in inflorescences at the tips of branches. They are usually pink or pinkish red, but sometimes, though very rare, orange, yellow, and violet flowers may also grow. The individual flowers have 5 stamens and 5 petals that are about 6 to 7 millimeters long. They produce 8 to 10 millimeter long seed capsules, which contain 6 to 7 millimeter long winged seeds.