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Family Apocynaceae
Shui mei
Wrightia religiosa Teijs. and Binn.
Wu guan dao diao bi

Scientific names Common names
Wrightia religiosa Teijs. and Binn. Philippine jasmine
Echites religiosa Teijs. and Binn. Shui mei
Echites religiosus Sacred buddhist (Engl.)
  Water jasmine (Engl.)
  Wild water plum (Engl.)
  Wondrous wrightia (Engl.)

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Wu guan dao diao bi, Sui-mei (Cantonese).
SINHALESE: Idda mal.
THAI: Mok ban.

Shui mei is a tropical shrub growing up to 3 meters tall. Bark is smooth and gray. Branchlets are thin, terete, often with many lateral and short branches, minutely puberulent. Petioles are 2 to 4 millimeters. Leaves are opposite, simple, elliptic, ovate or narrowly oblong, 2.5 to 7.5 centimeters long and 1.5 to 3 centimeters wide, pubescent along the midvein, with 5 to 7 paired lateral veins. Cymes are often on short, few-leaved branches, short peduncled, and 1- to 13-flowered. Flowers are fruity scented, pendant, borned along the twiggy branches. Sepals are ovate, about 1.5 millimeters. Corolla is white and glabrous; lobes ovate, about 7 millimeters, densely pubescent on both surfaces. Ovaries are free. Seeds are narrowly fusiform, about 8 millimeters.

- Introduced.
- Ornamental cultivation.
- Native to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
- A common bonsai plant in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan.

- A favorite bonsai tree because of its fast grow

Parts used
Bark, roots.


- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In India, bark infusion used twice daily as medicinal herb.
- Roots used to treat skin diseases.

ß-Glucosidase Activity:
Study of crude extracts from different stages of three scented flowers (W. religiosa, Ervatamia coronaira and Gardenia jasminoides) were evaluated for ß-glucosidase activity. The highest lebvel was found in Wrightia religiosa. Enzyme activity was increased significantly in open flowers. There is a good correlation between ß-glucosidase activity and scent emission from flowers and roots. (3)
PAH-Degrading Bacteria in Plant Phyllosphere / Air Purifying Potential: Phyllosphere bacteria on ornamental plants were characterized based on its removal of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the major air pollutants in urban areas. PAH-degrading bacteria were 1-10% of phyllosphere population consisting of diverse bacterial species--Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, Mycobacterium, and uncultred bacteria. Phyllosphere bacteria on unsterilized leaves enhanced the removal of phenanthrene. In addition, there was also reduction of other PAHs suc as acenaphthylene, acenaphthene, and fluorine. Results suggest a role for the phyllosphere bacteria on ornamental plants in the natural attenuation of airborne PAHs in urban areas.(4)


May 2013

Photos ©Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Sorting Wrightia names
/ Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
Wrightia religiosa (Sacred Buddhist) / Description / Zipcodezoo
β-Glucosidase Activity and Scent Production in Some Flowers / O. Suntornwat and S. Koocharoensap / Acta Hort. 679, ISHS 2005
Diversity and Activity of PAH-Degrading Bacteria in the Phyllosphere of Ornamental Plants
/ Chontisak Yutthammo, Nudchanard Thongthammachat, Pairoh Pinphanichakarn, Ekawan Luepromchai / Microbial Ecology, February 2010, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 357-368

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