Baccaurea (PROSEA Fruits)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Baccaurea dulcis. 1, branch with leaves; 2, fruiting branch

Baccaurea Lour.

Protologue: Fl. Cochinch.: 661 (1790).
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Chromosome number: 2n= 26 for investigated species

Major species and synonyms

  • Baccaurea racemosa (Reinw. ex Blume) Muell. Arg., in DC., Prodr. 15(2): 461 (1866), synonym: Baccaurea wallichii Hook.f. (1887);
  • Baccaurea ramiflora Lour., Fl. Cochinch.: 661 (1790), synonyms: Baccaurea sapida (Roxb.) Muell. Arg. (1866), Baccaurea wrayi King ex Hook.f. (1887).

Vernacular names

B. dulcis

  • Ketupa (En)
  • Indonesia: cupa, tupa, kapul
  • Malaysia: tjupa, tupa.

B. motleyana

  • Rambai (En)
  • Indonesia: rambai
  • Malaysia: rambai
  • Philippines: rambi
  • Thailand: mafai-farang, lamkhae, ra mai.

B. racemosa

  • Kapundung (En)
  • Indonesia: menteng, kepundung, bencoy
  • Malaysia: kapundung, menteng, jinteh merah.

B. ramiflora

  • Burmese grape (En)
  • Indonesia: mafai setambun, tajam molek
  • Malaysia: pupor, tampoi, tempui
  • Burma: kanazo
  • Cambodia: phnhiew
  • Laos: f'ai
  • Thailand: mafai, somfai, hamkang
  • Vietnam: giâu gia dât, giâu tiên, dzâu miên dzu'ó'i.

Origin and geographic distribution

Baccaurea is a large genus, comprising about 80 species, extending from India to the Pacific through Sri Lanka, the Andaman Islands, south China, Indo-China, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Tahiti. The centre of diversity is western Malesia; 22 species occur in Peninsular Malaysia, 20 in Sumatra and adjacent islands, 25 in Borneo, 5 in the Philippines, and 7 in Java. The four major species are cultivated.

B. dulcis is endemic in southern Sumatra and it is cultivated only locally in Sumatra and a few parts of western Java. B. motleyana is native in Sumatra, Borneo and Java. It is widely cultivated throughout Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, Java and Bali, and has found its way to neighbouring countries such as Thailand and the Philippines. B. racemosa originates from western Malesia where it is widely cultivated in Java, Sumatra, Bali and Peninsular Malaysia. B. ramiflora occurs wild as well as under cultivation in Nepal, India, Burma, southern China, Indo-China, Thailand, the Andaman Islands, and Peninsular Malaysia. It is the most commonly cultivated species in India and in Malaysia.


The four major species are primarily grown for their fruit. The fresh fruits might be more popular if the sour types were replaced by the sweet ones, and if the flesh did not adhere to the seed (as it is, the seed is often swallowed). The fruit is also used in stews; it may be pickled ("asinan"; in particular the kapundung fruit) or fermented to make wine.

Most Baccaurea spp. (not B. motleyana) produce excellent timber, the primary product of many minor species, even though the fruit of several is edible. The timber is used to build houses and boats and to make furniture. Moreover, in common with other cauliflorous trees, the baccaureas are considered good support trees for rattans. The cultivated species form shapely trees and are appreciated as ornamentals and shade trees.

The bark of several species, along with other ingredients, is used to colour silk yellow, red or mauve with the dyeing process known as "pekan" in Malay. It is also employed to relieve eye inflammation.


The average weight of kapundung fruit is 19 g; it consists of 5.5 g fleshy rind, 12 g pulp, and 1.5 g seeds. Analysis of the edible pulp shows that per 100 g it contains: water 82.3 g, protein 0.4 g, saccharose 7.5 g, fibre 0.2 g, ash 0.5 g. It has been reported that rambai fruit has a low vitamin content (5 mg vitamin C per 100 g edible portion; no vitamin B1 or B2).


  • Dioecious trees or shrubs, often with buttresses, usually with a dense crown.
  • Leaves simple, alternate, petiolate, mostly crowded toward ends of twigs, penninerved, usually entire.
  • Inflorescences axillary or cauliflorous, pendulous or erect, male ones narrowly thyrsiform, female ones racemose; flowers without petals; male flowers with 4-5 free sepals, 4-8 free stamens and an evident pistillode; female flowers with 4-5 free, caducous sepals, ovary 2-5-locular, stigmas 2-5, very small.
  • Fruit a fleshy indehiscent or a dry dehiscent, mostly 3-locular subglobose capsule.
  • Seeds few or solitary, often surrounded by a fleshy brightly coloured outer layer.

B. dulcis

  • Dioecious tree, 5-15 m tall, up to 50 cm in diameter.
  • Leaves obovate to elliptic, 14-18 cm × 8-13 cm, coriaceous, glossy, glabrous, petioles 1-5 cm long, stipules ovate.
  • Inflorescences ramiflorous; male racemes 6-11 cm long with yellowish fragrant flowers, sepals 4, stamens 6; female racemes 5-14 cm long, sepals 4-5, ovary 3-locular, stigmas 3.
  • Fruits 3.5-4 cm in diameter.

B. motleyana

  • Tree, 15-25 m tall, 40 cm in diameter, crown low, round, bushy; twigs, petioles and underside of leaves velvety.
  • Leaves obovate-lanceolate to elliptic, 20-35 cm × 8-17 cm, petioles 3-10 cm, stipules lanceolate.
  • Inflorescences ramiflorous; male racemes 13-20 cm long, flowers yellow in fascicles of 2-5, sepals 4-5, stamens 4-8; female racemes 25-60 cm long, flowers often in clusters, sepals 4-6.
  • Fruits 2-4 cm in diameter, thinly puberulous, buff-coloured.

B. racemosa

  • Tree, 15-25 m tall, 25-70 cm in diameter, crown dense and irregular.
  • Leaves ovate-oblong to obovate, 7-18 cm × 3-7 cm, glandular, petioles 0.5-4.5 cm, stipules triangular.
  • Inflorescences on old branches or on trunk; male racemes 5-13 cm long, composed of numerous 3-flowered, densely hairy cymes, flowers very small, sepals 4-5, stamens 4-8; female racemes 10-20 cm long, solitary or fascicled, flowers rather large, sepals 5, ovary 3-4-locular.
  • Fruits 2-2.4 cm in diameter, yellowish-green or reddish.

B. ramiflora

  • Tree, up to 25 m tall.
  • Leaves ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 10-20 cm × 4-9 cm, petioles 1-8 cm long, stipules lanceolate, fimbriate.
  • Inflorescences on branches and on trunk, tomentose; male racemes 3-8 cm long, flowers fascicled on very short rachises, sepals 4-5, stamens 4-8; female racemes 14 cm long, lower on the trunk, flowers solitary, sepals 4-5, ovary 3-locular, stigmas 2-lobed.
  • Fruits 2.5-3 cm in diameter, glabrous, yellowish, pinkish to bright red.

Growth and development

Fresh seed germinates in a matter of days. The shoot growth pattern and the length of the juvenile period have not been recorded, but trees generally mature slowly. Flowering is synchronized - particularly in the male trees - and is over in 2 or 3 weeks. In Malaysia it occurs after the dry months of January and February and the fruit matures in August-September, following the durian harvest. There may be a second crop. In Java the harvest is between January and March. Insects (Apis and Trigona bees, flies) visit the male flowers but they are rarely seen on the female flowers. Dioecy seems to present few problems, for the fruit yield is usually plentiful.

Other botanical information

Baccaurea species are characterized by strings of small yellow-green flowers on burs on the old wood, strings of fruits on the female trees, alternate leaves, and paper-thin bark. Sometimes the flower and fruit strings reach the ground. The fleshy outer layer of the seeds is sometimes called a true aril, sometimes an arillode or false aril. The actual origin of the layer is still unknown. Due to its dioecious nature, the taxonomy of Baccaurea is complicated and not yet well established. Misapplied vernacular names also contribute to the confusion. A brief description of a number of minor species with edible fruit is given in the chapter on minor edible fruits and nuts.

In B. racemosa two forms are distinguished: one with white fruit flesh ("menteng") and one with red flesh ("bencoy"); both forms have sour and sweet fruits; the sweet fruits are most in demand. The very variable fruit colour of B. ramiflora might also allow cultivars to be distinguished.


The natural habitat of Baccaurea is the tropical lowland forest, from Dipterocarp to peat-swamp forest. Nearly all species, including the 4 major ones, thrive in the humid tropical lowlands, preferably below 500 m, although wild trees have been found up to 750 m (rambai) and 1000 m (kapundung). A few minor species grow above 1000 m. The trees are found on a wide range of soils, from dry sandstone to peat swamps, but they appear to respond well to better soils; the rambai prefers alluvial soils near rivers or places where water is available.


Air layers should be made of female trees to be sure that propagated trees will bear fruit. Budding - often on rambai rootstocks -is also possible. The trees are spaced 7-9 m apart. There is no published information on growing techniques, pests and diseases and yield levels. The fruit is harvested before it is completely ripe.

Genetic resources and breeding

It is high time that Baccaurea germplasm collections were established in South-East Asia, since for several species, e.g. rambai and kapundung, genetic erosion appears to be serious. The variation in fruit characters in these two species and the dioecy strongly favour selection and clonal propagation.


However interesting the Baccaureas are as fruit trees, they play only a modest role in fruit consumption. The trees bear fruit in quantity, but the fresh fruit is not eaten in quantity as that would upset the stomach. The marginal importance of the fruit is also borne out by the fact that vegetative propagation is not common, in spite of its obvious advantages in a variable, dioecious crop. Unless a strong demand for the processed products can be generated, no great change in the position of the major species is to be expected.


  • Chin, H.F., 1986. Rambai and tampoi in Malaysia. West Australian Nut and Tree Crop Association Yearbook 11: 72-74.
  • Kuswara, T., 1982. Budidaya rotan di Kalimantan Tengah [The cultivation of rattan in Central Kalimantan]. Buletin Kebun Raya 5(4): 85-90.
  • Roesmarkan, S., 1976. Pengecambahan biji Baccaurea motleyana Muell. Arg. [Germination of the seeds of Baccaurea motleyana Muell. Arg.]. Peningkatan penelitian dan pengembangan prasarana penelitian biologi. Lembaga Biologi Nasional LIPI, Bogor. p. 75.
  • Soejarto, D.D., 1965. Baccaurea and its uses. Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard University 21(3): 65-104.
  • Uji, T., 1983. Mengenal nilai guna marga Baccaurea di Indonesia [The potential usage of Baccaurea in Indonesia]. Buletin Kebun Raya 6(3): 77-80.
  • Yap, S.K., 1982. The phenology of some fruit tree species in a lowland Dipterocarp forest. The Malaysian Forester 45(1): 21-35.

Sources of illustrations

Baccaurea dulcis: original drawing by Iskak Syamsudin.


  • Tahan Uji