Garcinia morella (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Garcinia morella (Gaertn.) Desr.

Protologue: Guttiferae


Garcinia gaudichaudii Planch. & Triana, G. gutta Wight, G. lateriflora Blume.

Vernacular names

  • Indian gamboge tree (En)
  • Malaysia: kandis (Peninsular)
  • Philippines: maladambo (Tagalog), ugau (Bikol), kandis (Manobo).


From Sri Lanka and India throughout northern South-East Asia.


After wounding the bark exudes a brilliant golden-yellow resinous sap, called gamboge, which can be used in watercolours because it emulsifies well in water. It can also be used for dyeing and as colouring agent for varnishes, lacquer, paints and ink. Gamboge is a drastic purgative, an emetic and a vermifuge but nowadays is rarely used medicinally. Sap from the root is said to be used to heal cuts.


Tree, up to 20 m tall and trunk diameter 50 cm but usually much smaller, glabrous in all parts. Inner bark up to 1 cm thick, white to pale yellow, containing plenty of brilliant yellow, sticky latex. Leaves opposite, coriaceous, entire; petiole up to 2 cm long, foveola conspicuous with prominent margins; blade obovate to oblanceolate, 9-24 cm × 5-10 cm, base tapering, apex usually obscurely acuminate, lower surface with 7-8 very prominent pairs parallel, slender lateral veins 8-14 mm apart. Flowers subsessile, axillary, solitary (female) or 2-3 together (male), per tree unisexual or bisexual; sepals 4, 5 mm long; petals 4, elliptical, 5-8 mm long, fleshy, white to pink; stamens in male flowers in a monadelphous central column with free red anthers; female flowers with sessile peltate stigma, base of ovary surrounded by about15 free staminodes. Fruit a globose berry, up to 3.5 cm in diameter, at base surrounded by the persistent sepals, at apex crowned by the flat tuberculate stigma, smooth, yellowish; exocarp thin, fruit pulp edible, acid-sweet, containing 2-3 seeds. Seed kidney-shaped, laterally compressed. G. morella occurs in dry and humid forest. Trees can be tapped when they are 10 years old by making a spiral incision and collecting the latex in small bamboo containers. In dry zones the trees are often stunted and the leaves less fleshy.

Selected sources

5, 11, 17, 24, 25, 36.