Clausena lansium (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
Introduction
List of species


Clausena lansium (Lour.) Skeels

Protologue: U.S. Dep. Agr. Bur. Pl. Indust. Bull. 168: 31 (1909).
Family: Rutaceae
Chromosome number: 2n= 18

Synonyms

  • Quinaria lansium Lour. (1790),
  • Clausena wampi (Blanco) Oliv. (1861),
  • Clausena punctata (Sonn.) Rehder & Wilson (1914), non Wight & Arnott (1834).

Vernacular names

  • Wampee (En)
  • Vampi (Fr)
  • Malaysia: wampi, wang-pei
  • Philippines: wampi, huampit (Tagalog)
  • Singapore: wampoi, wang-pei
  • Cambodia: kantrop
  • Laos: sômz maf'ai
  • Thailand: mafai-chin (Nan), sommafai (Chiang Mai)
  • Vietnam: hoàng bì, giôi, quất hồng bì

Origin and geographic distribution

Native to and commonly cultivated in southern China and Vietnam, but has also been extensively planted in South-East Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos). It is sometimes grown in India, Sri Lanka, Australia (Queensland), United States (Hawaii and Florida) and in Central America.

Uses

The ripe fruit is often consumed raw, it has a pleasant flavour which people easily become accustomed to. The pulp (seeds extracted) can be added to desserts or made into pie or jam. Jelly can be made from acid immature fruits. The Chinese serve the seeded fruits with meat dishes. In South-East Asia a kind of champagne is made by fermenting the fruit with sugar and straining off the juice.

In Malaysia and China the leaves are used in traditional medicine to treat coughs, asthma, hepatitis and dermatological diseases. The dried unripe fruits and dried sliced roots are used as a remedy for bronchitis. Ripe fruits are said to have stomachic and cooling effects and to act as a vermifuge. A decoction of the leaves is used to treat dandruff and to preserve the hair colour. The leaves, fruits or seeds are widely employed for gastro-intestinal problems, including acute and chronic inflammation and ulcers. In Taiwan the roots are used in traditional medicine to treat bronchitis and malaria.

Its dense growth makes wampee particularly effective as a hedging or screening plant.

Botany

  • Evergreen tree to 12 m tall, trunk to 40 cm diameter, usually low-branched.
  • Leaves spirally arranged, up to 40 cm long, petiole 1-2 cm, pinnately compound with 3-15 leaflets; leaflets ovate-elliptic, up to 14 cm × 7 cm, terminal leaflet largest, lowest pair smallest, thin coriaceous, glossy dark-green, oblique at the base, margins entire to minutely crenulate and toward apex coarsely undulate-subdentate, glabrescent, petiolules 5-7 mm long.
  • Inflorescences terminal and subterminal, up to 50 cm long, cymose-paniculate.
  • Flowers subsessile, 5-merous, sweet-scented, whitish to yellow-green; sepals less than 1 mm long; petals narrowly elliptic, 5 mm × 2 mm; stamens 10; ovary on short gynophore, 5-celled.
  • Fruit a subglobose berry, up to 2.5 cm diameter, brownish-yellow, sparsely puberulent, 5-celled but often only 1-2-seeded; pericarp thin, glandular dotted; pulp watery, semi-translucent, acid to sweet.
  • Seeds ellipsoid-ovoid, about 1.5 cm long, green with brownish chalazal cap; cotyledons green, glandular.

In South-East Asia the fruits mature from June to October, in Queensland in November-December. Seeds remain viable for several weeks if stored cool and if not excessively dried. Seedling plants grow slowly, beginning to bear when 5-8 years old. In China about 8 cultivars are distinguished, differing in shape and size of fruits and leaves, number of seeds, harvest period and in flavour, e.g. "Chi Hsin", and "Yuan Chung".

The fruits of wampee are the largest in the genus. Other species with edible fruits are: Clausena dentata (Willd.) Roemer (India, China) and Clausena indica (Dalz.) Oliver (India, Sri Lanka).

Ecology

The wampee needs a subtropical to tropical climate. It survives short slight frosts (-2°C), but trees have been killed at -6°C. They thrive in rich loam, but do well on other well-drained soils too. In general they require conditions similar to those for citrus trees.

Agronomy

Wampee can be propagated by seed or vegetatively by cuttings, air layers or grafts. Germination occurs in a few days. Mist propagation of softwood cuttings has been successful. Desirable selections can be grafted on wampee seedlings at any time of the year. Grafting on citrus rootstocks resulted in early flowering and fruiting, but in the long run the results were poor.

Pruning is recommended to avoid overcrowding of the branches. On limestone soils, wampee is subject to chlorosis, which can be overcome by applications of Mg, Zn, manure and mulch. Well-developed mature trees can produce up to 45 kg fruits per season.

Genetic resources and breeding

Germplasm collections are reported from the Chiayi Experiment Station in Taiwan, the Department of Botany of the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand and the Citrus Research Center and Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of California, United States. Productive and sweet-fruited selections have been made in Florida. Valuable material should be available in the regions of origin. Breeding focuses on obtaining faster-growing trees that reach the reproductive stage earlier. The possibilities of grafting on clausena and citrus rootstocks need further investigation.

Prospects

Wampee is easy to propagate and grow; few disease problems have been encountered so far and yield is fair. The wampee is known and grown in South-East Asia, but agricultural aspects, the possibilities for canning the fruit, and the pharmaceutical properties of the plant need further study.

Literature

  • Campbell, C.W., 1975. The wampee, a fruit well-adapted to Southern Florida. Proceedings Florida State Horticultural Society 87, 1974. pp. 390-392.
  • Pételot, A., 1952. Les plantes médicinales du Cambodge, du Laos et du Vietnam. Tome 1. Archives des recherches agronomiques au Cambodge, au Laos et au Vietnam No 14. pp. 154-155.
  • Quisumbing, E., 1978. Medicinal plants of the Philippines. The Katha Publishing Co., Quezon City. pp. 458-459.
  • Swingle, W.T., 1967. The botany of Citrus and its wild relatives of the orange subfamily (fam. Rutaceae, subfam. Aurantioideae). In: Reuther, W., Webber, H.J. & Batchelor, L.D., (Editors): The citrus industry. Revised edition. Vol. 1. History, botany and breeding. University of California Press, Berkeley, California, USA. pp. 216-218.
  • Molesworth-Allen, B., 1967. Malayan Fruits. An introduction to the cultivated species. Donald Moore Press, Singapore. pp. 165-167.
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1948-1976. The wealth of India: a dictionary of Indian raw materials & industrial products. 11 volumes. Publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi, India.268, 269, 614, 624, 627, 630, 739, 1039. medicinals

Authors

  • J. de Bruijn
  • G.H. Schmelzer