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S. foetida
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Sterculioideae
Genus: Sterculia
L., 1753[1]

See text

  • Ivira Aubl.
  • Mateatia Vell.
  • Triphaca Lour.
  • Xylosterculia Kosterm.[1]
Ripe fruit capsules releasing their smooth seeds, Malaysia
S. setigera, dry capsules and seeds – MHNT
S. pruriens, wood texture – MHNT

Sterculia[2] is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae: subfamily Sterculioideae (previously placed in the now obsolete Sterculiaceae[1]). Members of the genus are colloquially known as tropical chestnuts. The scientific name is taken from Sterculius of Roman mythology, who was the god of manure; this is in reference to the unpleasant aroma of the flowers of this genus (e.g. Sterculia foetida). Sterculia may be monoecious or dioecious, and flowers unisexual or bisexual.

Sterculia species are food plants for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the leaf miner Bucculatrix xenaula, which feeds exclusively on this genus. Gum karaya is extracted from Sterculia species, and is used as a thickener and emulsifier in foods, as a laxative, and as a denture adhesive. In India, this is sourced from: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madras, Madhya Pradesh and Chhota Nagpur.


The Plant List counts 91 currently accepted species. The accepted species are listed here, except as noted.[3]

Panama tree, S. apetala

Formerly placed here[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Genus: Sterculia L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2003-06-05. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  2. ^ Linnaeus C (1753) In: Species Plantarum 2: 1007.
  3. ^ "Sterculia". The Plant List, accessed 30 June 2018
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Firmiana simplex". The Plant List, accessed 30 June 2018.
  6. ^ "GRIN Species Records of Sterculia". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-03-03.

External links[edit]