Mangifera foetida (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Mangifera foetida Lour.

Protologue: Fl. Cochinch.: 160 (1790).
Family: Anacardiaceae
Chromosome number: 2n= 40


  • Mangifera horsfieldii Miq. (1859).

Vernacular names

  • bachang, horse mango (En)
  • Bachang, mangue fétide (Fr)
  • Indonesia: membacang, bacang (Indonesian-Malay, Minangkabau), limus (Sundanese, West Java), asem hambawang (Banjar, South Kalimantan)
  • Malaysia: machang (Malay), bacang, pahu (Sabah), macang (Sarawak)
  • Burma: la-môt
  • Cambodia: svaay sââ
  • Thailand: ma chae, maa-chang (Malay, peninsula), ma mut, malamut (Thai, peninsula)
  • Vietnam: xoài hôi.

Origin and geographic distribution

M. foetida occurs wild in dipterocarp forests of Peninsular Malaysia, Peninsular Thailand, Sumatra and Borneo. It was also collected apparently wild in Java. It is widely cultivated in its area of origin. It was introduced to south Tenasserim (Burma), where it is popular. In Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines, it is rarely cultivated and practically unknown; cultivated and sometimes naturalized also in Burma (Myanmar), Thailand and the Lesser Sunda Islands.


Fresh bachang fruit contain an irritant juice which may inflame the lips and mouth. At maturity the irritant juice is restricted to the skin, so that the ripe fruit can be eaten fresh if it is peeled fairly thick. It is a rather savoury fruit, in spite of its turpentine smell and the taste sometimes is likened to durian, but it is not generally valued as a table fruit. It is also used in fruit cocktails.

Unripe fruit, washed in salted water or kept for some time in lime water and sliced is used in vegetable salads ("rujak") and in a sour pickle ("asinan"). In Borneo, especially in East Kalimantan, the fruit commonly replaces tamarind as an acid ingredient in the preparation of sambal. In Malaysia it is used to make chutneys as well as pickles.

The leaves are said to be antipyretic and the seeds used against trichophytosis, scabies and eczema. Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia reportedly used the sap to deepen tattoo scars.

In flower M. foetida is a beautiful ornamental with upright inflorescences.

The timber is not durable, but locally used as machang for light indoor construction, temporary constructions and plywood. Streaked heartwood is suitable for the manufacture of furniture.


The edible portion of M. foetida represents 65% of fruit weight. Per 100 g edible portion the flesh contains: water 72.5 g, protein 1.4 g, carbohydrates 25.4 g, calcium 21 mg, phosphorus 15 mg, thiamine 0.03 mg, β-carotene equivalent 0.218 mg and vitamin C 56 mg.


  • Tree up to 30-35 m tall, straight bole without buttresses, bark light brown to dark greyish-brown, shallowly fissured with broad flat ridges, containing irritant whitish sap turning black on exposure; crown dense, foliage dark green, branches massive.
  • Leaves elliptic-oblong to broadly elliptic, sometimes oblanceolate, 15-40 cm × 9-15 cm, stiffly coriaceous, dark green above, clear green below, apex sub-acute, sometimes rounded or slightly emarginate, base cuneate or attenuate, more or less bullate between the nerves; petiole 1.5-8 cm, stout, very swollen at the base.
  • Panicles subterminal, upright, pyramidal, 10-40 cm long, sparsely branched, rather densely flowered, deep reddish-pink, inflorescence axes stout, deeply red to copper red.
  • Flowers 5-merous, scentless; sepals obovate-lanceolate, 4-5 mm long; petals narrowly lanceolate, 6-9 mm × 1.5-2.5 mm, pale reddish-pink at the base, pale yellow towards the apex, reflexed; stamens 5, 1(-2) fertile, filament ca. 8 mm long, pinkish- purple, anthers dark violet, other ones smaller, filaments connate at the base; ovary subglobose, yellow, style excentric, white, 6-7 mm long.
  • Fruit variable in size and shape, an obliquely ovoid-oblong or almost globose drupe, 9-14(-16) cm × 7-12 cm, dirty dark olive-green or yellowish-green, smooth, dull, with brown lenticels, nose reduced to a point or slightly prominent, rarely prominent, skin ca. 5 mm thick; flesh pale orange yellow or yellow, fibrous, juicy, with strong smell and taste of turpentine at its full extent.
  • Stone plump, ca. 6 cm × 5 cm × 3 cm, coarsely fibrous; seed monoembryonic.

Different forms are recognized by local people. Small, almost globose fruits (e.g. "limus piit" in West Java) are consistently distinguished from large and more oblong ones which are commonly sold in Malay markets. There is also another kind, with large, oblong fruits, remarkable for being hardly fibrous, and finer textured. In West Java, it is called "limus tipung" ("tipung" meaning flour, referring to its fine texture). A similar kind ("asem linggau") was found in East Kalimantan, with, moreover, a large proportion of fruit having abortive seeds. Sizeable variability in fruit characters is recorded in Borneo, particularly in South Kalimantan. A striking form, commonly seen in markets in Sarawak, has deep yellow unripe fruits.

Flowering in Sarawak is in May-August, fruit ripening in August-November. In East Kalimantan flowering is in April-September, ripening in August-January.

The density of the wood is 545-785 kg/m3 at 15% moisture content. See also the table on wood properties.

M. pajang resembles M. foetida in bloom; it is different notably by its longer leaves with prominent nerves and by its large brown fruits.

In orchards where M. pajang and M. foetida are grown together, naturally occurring cross-pollination has given rise to hybrid forms whose leaves and fruits have characteristics of the two species.


The species occurs chiefly in primary lowland forest in the wet tropics. It is adapted to areas with abundant rainfall, evenly distributed over the year, and is grown up to elevations above 1000 m.


Propagation is by seed. The seedlings require much moisture and light shade. They tolerate much shade but later on grow also well in full light. M. foetida proved to be a suitable rootstock for cvs of M. indica in a moist climate, but others doubt this because of swellings at the union. Budding is performed after the modified Forkert method with buds of non-petioled wood on one-year-old rootstocks, during the dry season. Spacing for orchard planting should be 14-16 m.

Trunk borers (Rhytidodera simulans, a longicorn beetle) may damage and kill branches, but the tree retains its viability. The attacks of the bark by Arbela are more superficial. The fruit is often damaged by the mango weevil, Cryptorrhynchus mangiferae, whose larvae feed in the flesh.

The fruits are harvested during the rainy season, in West Java from October to December.


Bachang has its traditional usage in South-East Asia and its role is not likely to change much in the near future.


  • Ding Hou, 1978. Anacardiaceae. In: van Steenis, C.G.G.J. (Editor): Flora Malesiana. Series 1. Vol. 8. pp. 435-437.
  • Molesworth Allen, B., 1967. Malayan fruits. Donald Moore Press, Singapore. pp. 9-11.
  • Mukherjee, S.K., 1949. A monograph of the genus Mangifera L. Lloydia 12: 73-136.

69, 77, 104, 115, 162, 328, 388, 397, 463, 465, 673, 705. timbers


  • J.M. Bompard