Baccaurea parviflora

Baccaurea parviflora (Mull.Arg.) Mull.Arg., in DC. Prodr. 5, 2 (1866)

Baccaurea parviflora
Baccaurea parviflora

This one is Baccaurea parviflora Müll.Arg., which is known in Banjar language (along with some other species of Baccaurea) as ‘rambai’. In the Indonesian (and Malaysian) language it’s called ‘setambun’. It’s locally common from Thailand through to the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

It grows as a shrub or small tree, up to a height to 15 metres, though usually less. So it’s an understorey tree in the rainforest, way down below the height of the big canopy trees, and the even bigger emergent trees. This one at the KRB, which was planted out as an established seedling in 2008, is currently about four metres tall.

The fruit can be eaten, though it’s acidic. Apparently it’s best when cooked. The hard timber is used to make tools and boxes and the like.

There are a couple of slightly unusual things about this plant. It’s ‘dioecious’, meaning that there are distinct male and female plants, with both (unsurprisingly!) required for pollination and reproduction.

The flowers grow as ‘inflorescences’, directly out of the main trunk of the tree. The flowers of the female Baccaurea parviflora are located just above ground level. The male flowers also grow on inflorescences, which can appear anywhere on the trunk of the tree. When the dark red berry fruits form, they just lie on the ground at the base of the tree.The large and attractively glossy leaves grow singly, and are sort-of elliptical in shape.


Vegetatively almost indistinguishable from Baccaurea odoratissima.

Baccaurea affinis Mull.Arg.
Baccaurea dasystachya (Miq.) Mull.Arg.
Baccaurea rostrata Merr.
Baccaurea scortechinii Hook.f.
Baccaurea singaporica Pax & K.Hoffm.
Pierardia dasystachya Miq.
Pierardia parviflora Mull.Arg.

Shrub to tree 3-19 m high, dbh 4-21 cm, buttresses absent, rarely fluted at base; branchlets glabrous, slightly thickened at tip, Terminalia branching pattern well-developed. Indumentum of simple hairs. Bark greenish-grey to grey-black to light yellow-brown to brown, 1.5-3.5 mm thick, rough to smooth, minutely fissured in strips 5 mm wide, papery; inner bark yellow to light brown, 1.5-2 mm thick. Leaves: petiole glabrous, densely hairy when young, 4-55 mm long, brown to reddish when dry, raised glands usually present; stipules 2.5-7 by 1.5-2.5 mm, glabrous to rarely densely hairy, margin ciliate, one side with long hairs, hyaline, midrib hirsute above; lamina elliptic to obovate, 5-23 by 2-9.5 cm, l/w ratio 1.6-3.7, papery; base attenuate to cuneate; apex acuminate, up to 22 mm long; upper surface glabrous, rarely hair-domatia present at base, rarely granulate, (dark) green when fresh, red to brown to green when dry; lower surface (sub)glabrous, raised glands absent, discoid glands sometimes present, (greyish to light-)green when fresh, red to brown to green when dry; secondary veins (3-)5-10 per side, closed at 2-3 mm from margin; nervation reticulate to weakly scalariform, green to yellowish to red when dry; young leaves whitish to pinkish. Staminate inflorescences cauline, at base of trunk, many clustered together, 4-28 cm long, rachis up to 1.2 mm thick, densely hairy, many-flowered, flowers scattered along inflorescence, red to maroon to light yellow; bracts 1 per branchlet, 0.3-1.6 by 0.15-1 mm, subglabrous (to densely hairy) outside, glabrous inside, margin ciliate, some-times hyaline; bracteoles 2, 0.2-0.4 mm long; branchlets cylindrical, 0.1-2.8 mm long, densely hairy, (1-)3-flowered. Staminate flowers 1-5 mm diam.; pedicel 0.4-6 mm long, upper part 0.2-3 mm, sparsely to densely hairy; sepals 4 or 5, obovate, each with a different size and shape, 0.5-3 by 0.5-1.2 mm, densely hairy outside, glabrous to densely hairy inside, maroon to yellow outside, cream to yellow inside when fresh, whitish outside, brownish white inside when dry; stamens 5-7, 0.5-0.9 mm long, glabrous, cream; filaments 0.4-0.8 mm long, straight; anthers 0.2-0.3 by 0.1-0.2 by 0.1-0.2 mm; rudimentary disc sometimes present; pistillode obtriangular, 0.3-1.2 mm long, hirsute, hollow inside, cream. Pistillate inflorescences cauline, at base of trunk, many clustered together, up to 28 cm long, 1-4 mm thick, densely hairy (to glabrous), red when dry, fragrant; pedicel 2-6(-9) mm long, often without a clear abscission zone, upper part 0.2-3(-7.5) mm long, densely hairy, bright red; bracts 3, up to 1.2(-1.6) by 1(-1.3) mm, persistent, sparsely to densely hairy outside, glabrous inside, margin ciliate. Pistillate flowers 5-7.5 mm diam.; sepals 4 or 5, narrowly elliptic to obovate, 2.7-8 by 0.9-2 mm, densely hairy outside, glabrous to densely hairy inside, white to yellow to usually red when fresh, caducous to persistent; ovary almost globose, with or without 6 wings, 1.3-2.2 by 1-2.3 mm, (2- or) 3- (or 4-)locular, velutinous, yellow; style 0-2 by c. 1 mm, densely hairy, yellow; stigmas 0.1-1.5 mm long, cleft apically only or up to base, caducous to persistent; lobes 0.2-1.4 mm long, glabrous with protuberances above, sparsely to densely hairy below. Fruits fusiform, 1-3-seeded berries, with or without 4-6 narrow wings, 16-32 by 7-15 mm, glabrous to sparsely hairy outside, raised glands present, dull red to maroon turning purple to black when fresh; pericarp c. 1-2.5 mm thick, glabrous on both sides; column 10-18 mm long, straight. Seeds ellipsoid, laterally flattened, 9-16 by 4-8 by 1-5 mm; arillode red to purple to white; cotyledons orbicular to square, membranous, 5.5-11 by 4-6 by 0.5-3.5 mm, radicle up to 1.5 mm long. [from Blumea Suppl. 12: 1–216]

Primary and secondary evergreen forest, keranga forest, (peat)swamp forest, steep hillsides to dry parts of swamps to alluvial forest. Soil: sandstone, white sandy soil. Altitude: sea level up to 1250 m.

Wood locally used as boxwood. Fruits are edible, sour-sweet taste.

Peninsular Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo.

Local names
Borneo Bamotong belaboh, Belembik planduk, Engkuni, Konkuni, Mata pelanduk, Motjong.
Peninsular Malaysia Tamun (Batec); kentamun ayer (Temuan); asam tambun, belembik, dedali, engkuni, setambun, tambun.
Thailand Somfai Pah.

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