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Kapa-Kapa, Medinilla magnifica Lndl. MELASTOMATACEAE

Habit. Scandent, epiphytic shrub, stems crooked, rebranched, compressed and angularly winged.

Leaves/Fronds. Leaves elliptic to oblong, opposite, the smaller ones subobovate, 30 x 20 cm, rigidly coriaceous, pale green beneath, the upper side shiny, the stout midrib with 3-5 pairs of ascendingly curved, prominent nerves, the axillary bristles dark brown, obtuse at both ends, subsessile.

Photo © Gerald D. Carr, University of Hawaii Botany Department (source URL: http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/ or http://www.hear.org/pier/imagepages/singles/memagp65.htm)
Photo © Gerald D. Carr, University of Hawaii Botany Department
(source URL: http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/ or

Flowers. Flowers pinkish, in pendent, terminal or lateral inflorescences, pedicelled; calyx truncate, petals 1.5 cm long, asymmetric; stamens with styles nearly as long. glabrous; inflorescences subtended by showy bracts, up to 40 cm long, pink, as long as or much longer than leaves; peduncles and rachis angular, verticellate branches relatively short, rebranched, winged, subtended by ovately elliptic, deciduous bracts.

Fruits & Seeds. Fruits subglobose, red to purple, 6-7 mm in diameter, becoming soft.

Distribution. Endemic to the Philippines (Luzon, Mindoro, Negros, Panay, Mindanao); in mossy forests up to 1,400 m alt.

Medinilla magnifica is one of the most spectacular flowering plants available, with exotic pink flower trusses reaching up to 50cm in length, which hang down from the main plant. Leaves are very large, up to 30cm long, glossy dark green and oval. Medinilla magnifica is an epiphyte (like staghorns, orchids & Bromeliads), and is often found growing in trees in native habitat.

Medinilla is best grown in bright, indirect sunlight, in a warm (min. 16C), humid environment. Humidity can be kept high by regular misting. Water regularly when compost dries out slightly. Malaysian Orchids benefit from liquid fertilizing every 2-3 weeks, and is best grown in rich, organic, well-draining soil.

In the wild these plants reach a height of 2m or so, in cultivation it will more likely be close to around


Medinilla magnifica (medinilla). Flower at Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui. April 30, 2009. Forest Starr
Medinilla magnifica (medinilla). Flower at Enchanting Floral Gardens
of Kula, Maui. April 30, 2009. Forest Starr & Kim Starr. Retrieved
from http://www.hear.org/starr/images/images/plants/full/starr-

This plant can reach almost 2 meters (6 feet) tall in our collection and is considered by horticulturalists to be a "shrub". A "shrub" is a horticultural rather than a botanical term. Shrubs generally consist of woody plants different from a tree as they have multiple stems and a lower height, usually less than 6 meters (20 feet) in height. However, growers in tropical climates report they often grow larger!

Often found as an epiphytic form (growing on trees) in its native Philippines, Medinilla magnifica possesses deep green leaves that are thick, waxy, rich and very glossy. Leaves reach about a foot long and have pale green veins. Its small pink brachts (flowers) spring from "berries" that bear seeds and are produced throughout spring and summer in pendulous fashion. (That means they hang down!) The plant is an irregular bloomer and flower clusters may pop up at any time of the year or it may skip a year. The "flowers" are actually pink bracts which are attached in clusters. The plant likes shade and can be propagated from woody cuttings or seeds.

There is some confusion on the internet regarding this plant. Some websites claim Medinilla magnifica and Medinilla myriantha are one and the same. However, TROPICOS which is a service of the Missouri Botanical Garden, says they are independent species. Another website claims the plant will die at temps below 17.75C (64 degrees F).

Medinilla magnifica Lindl., locally known as Kapa-kapa, is a Philippine-endemic paleotropical shrub, belonging to family Melastomataceae. The Melastomataceae are herbs, shrubs, or trees comprising about 200 genera and 4,000 species that are further characterized by having the major leaf veins usually 3-9 palmate and running in a parallel fashion from the base of the blade to near the leaf tip. Members of this family are found in a wide range of habitat, but M. magnifica is found in primary forests of low and medium altitudes.

M. magnifica is a popular ornamental plant native to Luzon Island, but is now widely propagated in different parts of the world because of its attractive inflorescence.

Source: JL M. Robil and V S. Tolentino. Histological and Developmental Characterization of Vegetative Structures of Medinilla magnifica Lindl. Department of Biology, School of Science and












The Medinilla, or locally known as Kapa-Kapa is an interesting group of flowering plants of about 150 species, but some botanists report about 418 species, and they belong to the Melastomataceae plant family. The Medinillas are native to the tropical regions of the Old World from Africa through Madagascar and southern Asia to the western Pacific Ocean islands. There are 80 species of Medinilla in the Philippines, which are becoming rare because most of our forest are almost gone. The genus was named after J. de Medinilla, governor of the Mariana Islands in 1820. These plants are evergreen shrubs or lianas. The leaves are opposite or whorled, or alternate in some species. The flowers are white or pink, produced in large panicles.

Medinillas can be epiphytes growing in the forks of tree branches, but oftentimes they are shrubs. Some of them are considered noxious weeds and are rather invasive. M. magnifica is the only species that is grown indoors. It is well named, as it produces magnificent drooping floral clusters, and thus became the logo of the Florikultura Expo which was held years back here in the Philippines. Many growers however reports that the plant is difficult to grow as it requires humidity and a cool environment, similar to its native habitat in high elevation mountains. Other interesting species includes M. multiflora, M. venosa and M. cumingii.

One problem of this handsome shrub is that it eventually becomes bulky and takes up a good deal of space. However, many growers now, especially those in Baguio have successfully learned how to cultivate this plant. The plant grows about 8 feet tall in the wild, but indoors it is unlikely to exceed 4 feet in height, in a similar spread in 10-12 inch pots. The stems are woody, 4-angled, with numerous branches which carry course textured, strongly undulate, leathery leaves arranged in opposite pairs. The medium green leaves which are stalkless, are pointed oval in shape, up to 12 inches long and 5 inches wide. Drooping flower stalks up to 18 inches long are produced at the tips of branches. Every flower stalk carries a number of pinkish, papery bracts, each 2-4 inches long and 2 inches wide. The bracts are arranged in two or three tiers along the flower stalk, and between each tier hangs a cluster of about 20 cherry red flowers. At the tip of the stalk, however, is a very large cluster of up to 40 blooms. Each bell- shaped flower is up to 1/2 inch long and wide and is borne on a short stalk of its own.


N. Bautista. “Growing Medinilla Species” article in Urban Gardener, 2nd Issue Vol.1, No.2,