Kepayang or keluak (Pangium edule Reinw. ex Blume; tribe Achariaceae, formerly included in Flacourtiaceae) is a tree that grows wild or is semi-wild which produces seasoning ingredients for a number of Indonesian dishes, such as rawon. The Sundanese call it picung or pucung, the Javanese call it pucung, kluwak, or kluwek, in Toraja it is called pamarrasan, and in Minangkabau it is called simanguang.
Keluak seeds are used as a spice in Indonesian cooking which gives rawon a blackish brown color to rawon, keluak seasoning meat, brongkos, and konro soup. These dyes can be a substitute for synthetic dyes such as Chocolate Brown FH and Chocolate Brown HT. In addition, the seeds also have a seed coat that can be used. When eaten in certain amounts it can cause intoxication due to cyanogenic poisoning.
The kepayang plant contains cyanogenic glycoside components, which can be quickly hydrolyzed into sugars, aldehydes/ketones, and cyanide acid. Cyanogenic glycosides can be found in the leaves, bark, and seeds of the kepayang plant. The poison in kepayang seeds can be used as poison for arrowheads. The seeds are safe to be processed for food if they have been boiled and soaked first. To bring out the black color, the seeds that have been boiled and soaked will be buried in the ground (after being wrapped in banana leaves) for several days.
Kepayang is a medium to large annual evergreen tree, with a height of 18 to 40 m, which has many branches. Stems up to 1 m in diameter, and may have buttress roots. The crown of the kepayang tree is dense, with branches that are easily broken. The young branches of the kepayang tree are tightly arranged and have brown hairs which fall off when the branches get old.
Kepayang leaves grow in clusters at the ends of the branches in a spiral pattern. The petioles are long, trident in young trees and broadly ovoid in older trees. The upper surface of the leaves is glabrous and shiny green, the lower surface has brown hairs, and the veins are prominent. The leaves are 15-25 cm long.
The kepayang tree is unisexual so that it is classified as a two-house plant (one tree only produces only male or female flowers). Trees will start to flower after about 15 years. Female trees have solitary flowers with 5-6 petals with staminodes between petals, 2-3 calyx lobes, ovoid ovary, 2-4 placentas, and many ovules and seated stigmas (Fig. sessile). Male flowers also have 5-6 petals and 2-3 calyx lobes, but grow in groups & have many stamens. Male trees, in addition to having male flowers, can also have hermaphrodite flowers. All flowers are about 5 cm wide and greenish brown in color. Flowers grow in the axils of leaves or at the ends of branches.
Kepayang fruit is shaped like a soccer ball, has a rough brown surface, and generally has a length of 15 – 30 cm. The fruit is about half as long as it is thick, with soft flesh and a creamy white to pale yellow color. The fruit mass can reach more than 1 kg, and each fruit can contain 1-18 kepayang seeds.
Kepayang seeds are flattened egg-shaped and grayish in color. The seed shell is thick and hard, with prominent veins. The seeds are 5 cm long.
Species: Pangium edule Reinw. ex Blume
Indonesian: kluwak, kluwek, picung [sun], kepayang. Malay: kepayang, payang