Characteristics of Lempeni Tree (Ardisia elliptica) in the Wild

Ardisia elliptica
When the lempeni tree is planted in new areas as an ornamental plant, when the seeds spread and easily become invasive species such as in Puerto Rico, Australia (Queensland, Northern Territory), Southern Florida, Caribbean, Mascarene Islands, Seychelles, and in some Pacific islands such as Hawaii.

In favorable conditions, the lempeni tree can bear fruit at the age of 2-3. Mature plants in forests with sufficient sunlight can bear fruit/hundreds of fruits. However, in the shady conditions, lempeni can still bear fruit but not too much.

The seeds can grow quickly if they fall under a shady, damp mother tree. The fruit is very popular with birds and is one of the favorite fruit-eating mammals.


Characteristics of Lempeni Leaf

Ardisia elliptica Leaf
Source: Sheila

The leaves are elliptical with a shiny smooth texture.


Characteristics of Lempeni Flower

Ardisia elliptica Flower
Source: Khoon Yeo

The flowers are umbrella-shaped developing on the leaf axils of the leaf branches. The petals are white to pink.


Characteristics of Lempeni Fruit

Ardisia elliptica Fruit
Source: and Kim Starr

The fruit is single clustered, first green and turning red when they mature and then purple/black when ripe. Each fruit is about 5-6 mm in size. The seeds are round in shape with a diameter of about 4-5 mm. When the ripe fruit is squeezed by hand, the liquid can make fingers purple.


Characteristics of Lempeni Tree

Ardisia elliptica Tree

Lempeni trees grow to form shrubs that can reach up to 5 meters in height. The tree is tough and can live in almost all types of soil in the forest. The trunk is single with short, perpendicular branches.


  • The trees are widely planted as complementary plants for landscapes and gardens because there will be many birds perching to eat the fruit.
  • In Malaysia, the herb lempeni leaf is said to relieve retrosternal pain and a paste made from the leaves is used to treat herpes and measles.
  • In traditional Thai medicine, lempeni fruit is used to cure diarrhea accompanied by fever.
  • In Southeast Asia, the leaves of lempeni are used to treat scabies and the fruit for treating intestinal worms.
  • In pharmacy, lempeni has Antiplatelet and Antibacterial substances.


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