The Eriolaena Page

Eriolaena candollei Wall.
Eriolaena glabrescens A.DC.
Eriolaena hookeriana Wight & Arn.
Eriolaena kwangsiensis Hand.-Mazz.
Eriolaena lushingtonii Hand.-Mazz.
Eriolaena quinquelocularis (Wight & Arn.) Wight
Eriolaena spectabilis Planch. ex Hook.f.
Eriolaena stocksii Hook.f.
Eriolaena wallichii DC.

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Partial Synonymy of Asian Dombeyoid Genera


Eriolaena is a genus of malvaceous shrubs and trees from India, South East Asia and southern China. There are 8 [1] to 10 species [a]. (The statement in Flora of China [2] that there are 17 species is an error; there are 17 published names in the genus, not species.) I have identified 9 species [2, 3].


Eriolaena is traditionally classified in Sterculiaceae. This family has been dismembered and incorporated within Malvaceae. Eriolaena then becomes a member of the sub-family Dombeyoideae, allied to Sterculioideae, Tilioideae, and Brownlowioideae. DNA sequence evidence places it within the core Dombeyoids, which otherwise have a distribution centered on Africa and the Mascarenes, rather than with other Asian genera within the subfamily, such as Burretiodendron or Pterospermum. (The only other core Dombeyoid genus to occur in Asia is Melhania, which is found in both Africa and south Asia.) This placement is confirmed by a study of its embryology [a]. Eriolaena may be the sister group to the other winged-seeded core dombeyoid genera - Helmiopsis and Helmiopsiella - and closer to Trochetia than to Dombeya,

Eriolaena has often been placed in a tribe Eriolaeneae, but this does not appear to be worthy of distinguishing from Dombeyeae. It was also made the type of a subfamily Eriolaenoideae. This is not now recognised.

Eriolaena esquirolii Léveille is a synonym of Burretiodendron esquirolii (Léveille.) Rehd.; Eriolaena roxburghii is a synonym of Pterospermum semisagittum; Eriolaena yunnanensis W.W.Smith is a synonym of Reevesia pubescens var pubescens; Eriolaena kurzii King, from Burma, is a nomen nudum.


Eriolaena, in common with most dombeyoid genera, has bifid cotyledons (seed leaves), echinate pollen, and a tripartite epicalyx. Distinguishing characteristics include the presence of wings on the seeds (found in several dombeyoid genera, and probably convergent), the absence of staminodes (it is the only core dombeyoid genus to lack staminodes), and the inconsistent presence of two supplementary bracts associated with the epicalyx.

Species of Eriolaena are trees or shrubs, with a stellate indumentum. The foliage is stipulate (with linear, early-falling, stipules), alternate and petiolate. The leaf blade is usually cordate and palmately nerved at the base, and unlobed, with a toothed margin, and a stellate indumentum, dense on the underside (but not in Eriolaena glabrescens). The flowers are hermaphrodite. The flowers are borne in the leaf axils, or terminally on branches, and are solitary or form small racemes. An epicalyx, placed distantly from the calyx, is present, composed of 3 to 5, commonly toothed or laciniate, bracteoles. The calyx is valvate in aestivation. It is composed of 4 or 5 linear sepals. These are stellate-hairy on the outside, and villous on the inside. They are typically fused for part of their length, and have acute apices. The corolla is composed of 5, narrowly oblong, reflexed, yellow or white petals. The stamens are numerous and fused at the their base to form a staminal column. Free filaments arise from the length of the tube. Each is surmounted by a bilocular, tetrasporangiate anther, with parallel locules. Staminodes are absent, or at least not readly distinguishable in the staminal column. The ovary and fruit are 4–10-merous. Each ovary locule is pluriovulate. The style is linear, and stigmatose and stellately 5-10 lobed at its apex. The fruit is an ovoid or narrowly ovoid, loculicidally dehiscent, woody capsule, with ascending seeds, and a wool filling the spaces between the seeds. The seeds possess apical membraneous wings which are about as long as the body of the seed. The endosperm is sparse. The radicle (seed root) is placed next to the hilum. The cotyledons are bifid, and plicate in the seed. [1, 2, 4, 5]


Eriolaena hookeriana is reported as having a chromosome count of 120 [6].


Eriolaena candollei Wall.
Thai ปอเลียงฝ้าย
Burmese htwan, dwan
Chinese nan huo sheng

Eriolaena candollei is found in India, Bhutan, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the Chinese provinces of Guangxi, Sichuan and Yunnan [2]. At least one species of Eriolaena is present in Cambodia (in tree savannas), and on distributional grounds Eriolaena candollei is the most likely candidate. Consequently Eriolaena affinis Pierre, described from Cambodia, but not generally recognised, may be a synonym of Eriolaena candollei.

Eriolaena candollei is a gray-barked tree reaching from 6 to 12 metres in height. The twigs are shortly hairy. The leaves are relatively shortly petiolate (petioles 1.5–3 cm long, compared with dimensions of 6–10 × 5.5–11 cm for the orbicular to ovate-orbiculate blades). The blades are thickly papyraceous, weakly 3–5-lobed, cordate or shallowly cordate, and palmately 5–7-nerved, at the base, shortly acuminate at the apex, with shallow obtuse teeth. They have a sparse stellate indumentum on the upper surface, and a dense grey-white stellate tomentum on the lower surface. The flowers are borne in March and April.The inflorescence is a multi-flowered, terminal or axillary cyme, up to 7 cm in lenght. The bracteoles are 1–1.5 cm long, narrow, and pinnately divided. The sepals are slightly longer, linear-lanceolate in shape, and with a dense yellow-brown tomentulum. The petals are yellow, with emarginate apices. The bases are narrowed in thick, basally villous, stalks. The ovary is ovate-globose. The style is glabrous. The stigmas number 8-10, and are twisted. The capsule is a tapering ovoid (5 × 2.5 cm), with a pointed apex, with numerous winged seeds.

The timber of Eriolaena candollei is used commercially on a small scale, under the names salmon wood or aranj.. It is a reddish-coloured hardwood, often marked with orange and brown streaks. It is close-grained, and seasons and polishes well, and is used in cabinetmaking and decorative woodworking.

Eriolaena affinis Pierre is a synonym of Eriolaena candollei.

Eriolaena glabrescens Aug. DC.
Chinese guang ye huo sheng

Eriolaena glabrescens has a discontinous distribution in south Yunnan, Thailand and south Vietnam [2].

Eriolaena glabrescens is a tree growing up to 10m tall. It is a sparser indumentum than the other species, with the twigs and petioles nearly glabrous, and both surfaces of the leaves only sparsely hairy even when young. Lepidote and stellate hairs remain present along the midrib and veins of mature leaves. As in Eriolaena candollei the leaf petioles are relatively short (2-3 cm long), compared to an ovate orbicular blade with dimensions of 7–10 × 6–10 cm. The leaf blades are broadly cordate and 7-nerved at the base, and acute or acuminate at the apex. The undersurface has a pinkish tinge. The flowers are borne in August and September. The inflorescene is multiflowered and corymbose, with a reddish indumentum on the peduncles, epicalyx and calyx. The bracteoles are linear, 14mm long and pinnately divided. The sepals are linear-lanceolate. The petals are yellow. The staminal tune is relatively short (1.5 cm, compared with 2.5 cm long sepals and 2.5-3 cm long petals), and the filaments very short. The ovary is 8-locular, and the apex of the style 8-lobed. The fruits are produced in November and December. They are an 8-valved 3.5–4.5 cm long ovoid capsules. [2]

Eriolaena glabrescens Hu is a synonym of Eriolaena glabrescens. (The same name has been based on two different type specimens [2].)

Eriolaena hookeriana Wight & Arn.

Eriolaena hookeriana is found in the western parts of peninsula India, Maharashtra and Sri Lanka. It is small grey-barked tree, the herbaceous parts of which have a tawny or rusty indumentum. The leaf petioles are about 5 cm long. The blades are orbicular, with a diameter of around 10 cm, cordate at the base, acuminate at the apex, and with serrate margins, and prominent veins on the underside.. They are thinly stellate-pubescent above and rusty-tomentose below. The inflorescence is axillary. The peduncle is longer than the leaves, and bears many flowers. The bracteoles are 2–2.5 cm long, and finely dissected. [5]

There are no known synonyms of Eriolaena hookeriana.

Eriolaena kwangsiensis Hand.-Mazz.
Chinese gui huo sheng

Eriolaena kwangsiensis is endemic to China, where it is found in the provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan [2].

Eriolaena kwangsiensis is a grey-barked shrub of tree, reaching 11 meters in height. It is similar to Eriolaena glabrescens in being relatively sparsely tomentose, and in having a short staminal column (12 mm). The leaf petioles are 2–5 cm long; the blades are orbicular 9–15 × 7–13, cordate and 5–7-nerved at the base, acute or shortly acuminate at the apex, with ann obtusely toothed margin, and a leathery or subleathery texture. The flowers are borne between June and August. The inflorescence is axillary, with several, rarely up to 10 flowers. The bracteoles are spatulate and toothed. The sepals are linear-lanceolate. The petals are spatulate with a shortly pointed apex. [2]

Eriolaena ceratocarpa Hu is a synonym of Eriolaena kwangsiensis.

Eriolaena lushingtonii Hand.-Mazz.

E. lushingtonii is an endangered species endemic to the Eastern Ghats of India. It is similar to Eriolaena quinquelocularis. The leaf petioles are 1.5-2 cm long. The blades are orbicular, 4–5 cm long, irregularly and shallowly toothed, stellate-hairy on the upper surface, and white-tomentose below. The inflorescences are axillary, and are composed of 2-3 flowers. The bracteoles are 4–5 mm long, divided pinnately into filaments. The sepals are ligulate, 2 cm long, connate at the base, pubescent internally and tomentose externally. The petals are narrowly obovate. The ovary is around 7-loculate, with multi-ovulate locules. [7]

There are no known synonyms of Eriolaena lushingtonii.

Eriolaena quinquelocularis (Wight & Arn.) Wight
Assamese Bhawat
Marathi बोथी (bothi)
Konkani Bujaridamu
Tamil Malamtutti, Vattanunnu
Malayalam vetinar
Kannada Kondigida, Gomajjige, Kattale
Chinese wu shi huo sheng

Eriolaena quinquelocularis is found in India and in southern Yunnan.

Eriolaena quinquelocularis is pale grey barked tree growing up to 10 metres in height. The leaf petioles are 1.5–3 cm long. The leaf blades are orbicular or broadly ovate (5–8 cm in diameter), cordate at the base, acute or obtuse on the apex, with obtusely toothed margins, a thick papery texture, a sparse stellate indumentum on the upper surface, and dense white tomentum on the lower surface. The flowers are borne in May to July. The inflorescences are terminal or axillary, and composed of 3 flowers. The bracteoles are ovate or elliptic ovate. Unlike most other species, in Eriolaena quinquelocularis they are entire. The sepals are linear-lanceolate, and around 2 cm long. They are densely tomentulose on the outside, and with long hairs on the inside. The petals are yellowish. They are as long as the sepals, with obtuse apices. The staminal tube is also of the same length.

Synonyms of Eriolaena quinquelocularis include Microchlaena flavescens Garcke ex Mast., Microchlaena quinquelocularis Wight & Arn. and Wallichia quinquelocularis Steud..

Eriolaena spectabilis Planch. ex Hook.f.
Chinese huo sheng shu

Eriolaena spectabilis is found in open forest and scrub in India, Bhutan and Nepal, and in the Chinese provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou and Yunnan [2].

Eriolaena spectabilis is a decidous shrub or small tree reaching 3 to 8 metres in height. The leaf petioles are 2–5 cm long. The leaf blade is ovate or broadly ovate (6–13 × 8–14 cm), cordate and palmately 5–7-nerved at the base, acute at the apex, with an irregularly and minutely dentate margin, a sparse stellate indumentum on the upper side, and a dense pale gray brown indumentum on the lower side. The inflorescences are composed of several flowers, and are borne in the leaf axils in April to July. The bracteoles are short (4 mm), linear-lanceolate and entire (rarely lobed). The sepals are also linear-lanceolate, but several times longer (1.8–2.5 cm). The petals are white or yellowish white, spatulate, and comparable in length to the sepals. [2]

Synonyms of Eriolaena spectabilis include Eriolaena malvacea (H.Lév.) Hand.-Mazz., Eriolaena sterculiacea H.Lév., Eriolaena szemaoensis Hu, Gumsia chloroxylon Buch.-Ham., Gumsia hirta Buch.-Ham., Gumsia tiliacea Wall., Jackia spectabilis Spreng., Microchlaena spectabilis Endl. ex Walp., Microlaena spectabilis Wall., Sterculia malvacea H.Lév. and Wallichia spectabilis DC..

Eriolaena stocksii Hook.f.

Eriolaena stocksii is found in western peninsula India. It is a purplish-barked shrub, the herbaceous portions of which are stellate-hairy. The stipules are subulate. The leaf petiole is 5 cm long. The leaf blades are broadly ovate (7.5 × 10–12.5 cm), cordate and 5–7-nerved at the base, sub-acuminate at the apex, with a crenate margin. They are stellate-hairy above, and pubescent below. The peduncles are longer than the leaves, and bear 3-flowered inflorescences. The bracteoles are twice pinnately divided, giving a mossy appearance. The sepals are cuspidate, and are glandular at the base within. The petals are spathulate. The ovary is 10-loculate. [5]

There are no known synonyms of Eriolaena stocksii.

Eriolaena wallichii DC.
Chinese pao huo sheng

Eriolaena wallichii is found in India and Nepal. There is a single, uncertain, record from Yunnan [2].

Eriolaena wallichii is similar to Eriolaena spectabilis, but differs in having solitary flowers, with ovate bracteoles with deeply fimbriate margins. It is a small tree, growing to 5 metres in height. It is a small tree reaching 6 metres in height. The leaf petioles are around 4.5 cm long. The leaf blades are orbicular-ovate (up to 16 cm long by 14 cm wide), thickly papery, cordate and 7-nerved at the base, acute or acuminate at the apex, with a shallowly toothed margin. The inflorescence is terminal and few-flowered. The bracteoles are around 15 cm long. They are ovate, densely woolly, with deeply fimbriate margins. The sepals are linear-lanceolate and about 3 cm long. The petals are obcordate, with emarginate apices. They are about 2 cm long; that is markedly shorter than the sepals. The staminal tune is also 2 cm long. The ovary is 5-locular. [2]

There are no known synonyms of Eriolaena wallichii.


  1. Kubitzki & Bayer, Malvaceae, in Kubitzki & Bayer, Fam. Gen. Vasc. Plants V: (2003)
  2. Wu, Z. Y., P. H. Raven & D. Y. Hong, eds, Flora of China 12: 263-330 (2007)
  3. Plants of India checklist
  4. Hutchinson, J.B., The Genera of Flowering Plants 2: 536-567 (1967)
  5. Masters, Maxwell T. in Hooker, J.D., The Flora of British India 1: 317-399 (1875)
  6. Index to Plant Chromosome Numbers (IPCN)
  7. Dunn, Decades Kewensis 85, Kew Bulletin 1915(2): 88 (1915)


  1. Tang, An embryological study of Eriolaena candollei Wallich (Malvaceae) and its systematic implications, Flora 204(8): 569-580 (2009)

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