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..... Author unknown.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Midnight Horror Tree - Kellie's Castle Batu Gajah Part 4


When you visit Kellie's Castle, there is a very spooky but fascinating tree that you must not miss seeing. I'm sure this tree is as old as the castle itself, which by now should be almost a hundred years old. If you take the side entrance from the stables and servant quarters section, the tree is located on the left just in front of the entrance to the castle.

Scientific name: Oroxylum indicum
Common names:
Midnight Horror Tree, Broken Bones Tree, Tree of Damocles
Bonglai (Malay), Indian Trumpet Flower (India)
Family: Bignoniaceae
Native to: Indian sub-continent, southern China, Southeast Asia

The scientific name of this tree, Oroxylum indicum is derived from the Greek words “oros” for mountain and “xulon” for wood while “indicum” means from India.

In his book, “Wayside Trees of Malaya”, tropical plant botanist Professor E.J.H. Corner (1906-1996) described it as a grotesque tree filled with astonishment. It even has three spooky names, Midnight Horror Tree, Broken Bones Tree and Tree of Damocles.

This native rainforest tree is used by locals in traditional remedies while some people grow it as an ornamental for its bizarre appearance. It is fast disappearing as a result of deforestation.This deciduous, small to medium-sized tree can grow up to 12m tall. It is a scrubby tree with few branches and sparse foliage.

The leaves are 2-3 times pinnate, divided and botanically a “one of its kind” on planet Earth. The large leaves can reach 2m long hence they are sometimes mistaken as tree branches.

The flowers are rather dull in colour, a light reddish purple on the outside and pale yellow inside. They open at night at about 10pm and gives off a foul odour which is amplified at midnight. Bats are attracted to it. Later all the leaves would fall to the ground and collect at the base of the trunk like a pile of broken bones. The seed pods can grow to 1 m long and hang down like swords from bare branches.


Imagine the eerie window view of the silhouette of this tree standing like a dead skeleton with hanging daggers on a clear moonlit night and I’m sure you can understand why it is called the Midnight Horror Tree!

I wonder if you have ever seen such a tree. This is my first time!

“Kellie's Castle Batu Gajah, Perak part 4 - The Midnight Horror Tree”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ on July 23rd, 2013

USES - (Wikipedia)As food - It is a plant with edible leaves and stems.The very large young pods, known as Lin mai (ลิ้นไม้) or Lin fa (ลิ้นฟ้า) in Loei, are eaten especially in Isan (Thailand) and in Laos. They are first grilled over charcoal fire and then the somewhat bitter inner pulp is usually scraped and eaten along with lap.

In traditional medicines, the Oroxylum indicum seed is used in the traditional Indian ayurvedic medicine. The root bark is also used, administered as astringent, bitter tonic, stomachic and anodyne. It is included in famous tonic formulations, such as Chyawanprash. The bark of O. indicum (Chinese : 木蝴蝶树皮, hanyu pinyin : mù húdié shùpí) or Cortex Oroxyli is a traditional Chinese medicine ingredient. The bark of O. indicum (Singhala / Sri Lanka: Totila, Totilla) is one of main ingredients in Sri Lankan indigenous medicine (in decoctions) as a remedy for pains in joints or rheumatism.


  1. Very interesting tree. Thanks for all the information about it. Have never see that around here on the lake! Jack

  2. that is definitely an eerie tree - but really cool!

  3. Interesting tree seems to be the thought process for most of us. :)
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  4. Great post, fantastic photos:) Greetings

  5. I had hit Google to see more of this tree but find it not so scary.
    I mean - I cannot figure out the scary part - the seedpod look flat like a belt, I understand the seeds are air-born as they look like paper.
    I guess the creepy-ness comes because of the location of this place - Abandon Castle?
    Perhaps that adds to the mystery...

    But like what you said in the last sentence:
    Imagine the eerie window view of the silhouette of this tree standing like a dead skeleton with hanging daggers on a clear moonlit night and I’m sure you can understand why it is called the Midnight Horror Tree!

    Ohh.. this scares the daylight of anyone.

  6. Very special tree indeed but it look scary to me too!

  7. I wish it would grow in USA Zone 5 :-)


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