Macaranga tanarius is a kind of fast growing native evergreen tree with an umbrella-shaped crown of luxuriant foliage. It can stand up to strong winds, and it is tolerant to drought and saltiness. It is an ideal shade tree to be grown on the beach as it can grow in pure sand. In Hong Kong, it is commonly planted along roadsides and in country parks. However, it is a typical low altitude plant that it is rarely found at an altitude of 1000m above sea level.
The leaves are heart-shaped, their texture thin and soft; usually clustered at the branch ends. The leaf stalk is attached to the leaf blade at about one quarter of the length from the base. The veins are radiating and conspicuous. The flowers are small, green and in axillary clusters.
The sap from the broken branches will oxidize and turn red. As the leaves resemble an elephant’s ear in appearance, it is also named “Elephant’s ear”. Its bark and roots have medicinal values in curing dysentery and hemoptysis. The seeds can be used to extract oil for industrial uses.