Morton, J. 1987. Bignay. p. 210–212. In: Fruits of heat climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.

Antidesma bunius Spreng.

When Nook referred to this member of the Euphorbiaceae as a “shady, fairly gloomy tree”, he couldn’t have been viewing it in fruit, a spectacle that has at all times aroused enthusiasm. The colourful bignay, Antidesma bunius Spreng., is named bignai within the Philippines; buni or berunai in Malaya; wooni or hooni, in Indonesia; ma mao luang in Thailand; kho lien tu in Laos; choi moi in Vietnam; moi-kin and chunka by the aborigines in Queensland. Amongst English names are Chinese language laurel, currant tree, nigger’s twine, and salamander tree.

Plate XXVI: BIGNAY, Antidesma bunius


The tree could also be shrubby, 10 to 26 ft (3-Eight m) excessive, or might attain as much as 50 and even 100 ft (15-30 m). It has wide-spreading branches forming a dense crown. The evergreen, alternate leaves are rectangular, pointed, Four to 9 in (10-22.5 cm) lengthy, 2 to three in (5-7.5 cm) large, dark-green, shiny, leathery, with very brief petioles. The tiny, odorous, reddish female and male flowers are produced on separate bushes, the male in axillary or terminal spikes, the feminine in terminal racemes Three to eight in (7.5-20 cm) lengthy. The spherical or ovoid fruits, as much as 1/Three in (Eight mm) throughout, are borne in grapelike, pendent clusters (usually paired) that are extraordinarily showy as a result of the berries ripen erratically, the pale yellowish-green, white, bright-red and almost black phases current on the identical time. The pores and skin is skinny and difficult however yields an abundance of bright-red juice which leaves a purple stain on materials, whereas the pulp, just one/Eight in (Three mm) thick is white with colorless juice. Entire fruits are very acid, very similar to cranberries, when unripe; are subacid, barely candy, when totally ripe. Some tasters detect a bitter precept or “disagreeable aftertaste” which is unnoticeable to others. There’s a single, straw-colored stone, an irregular, flattened oval, ridged or fluted, very exhausting, 3/Eight in (1 cm) lengthy, 1/Four in (6 mm) large.

P.J. Wester mentions a “very distinct and superior selection” as reliably reported from the Mountain Province, Philippines.

Origin and Distribution

The bignay is native and customary within the wild from the decrease Himalayas in India, Ceylon, and southeast Asia (however not Malaya) to the Philippines and northern Australia. It’s an plentiful and invasive species within the Philippines; sometimes cultivated in Malaya; grown in each village in Indonesia the place the fruits are marketed in clusters.

The USA Division of Agriculture acquired seeds from the Philippines in 1905 (S.P.I. #18393); twice in 1913 (S.P.I. #36088 and #34691), and once more in 1918 (S.P.I. #46704). Fairly a number of bushes have been planted in southern Florida prior to now and the fruits have been previously appreciated as a supply of juice for jelly, commercialized in a restricted approach, however are not often so used at this time. There are specimens in experimental stations in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Honduras and Hawaii.

Local weather

The tree just isn’t strictly tropical for it has proved to be hardy as much as central Florida. It thrives in Java from sea-level to 4,000 ft (1,200 m). It grows nicely and flowers however doesn’t set fruit in Israel.


Many seeds are non-viable in Florida, maybe due to insufficient pollination. Since seedlings might turn into male, and feminine seedlings might not bear for quite a lot of years, vegetative propagation is most popular. The tree is instantly multiplied by cuttings, grafting or air-layering. The air-layers have borne fruit in Three years after transplanting to the sphere. Ochse recommends grafting within the moist season as a result of scions will stay dormant in dry climate. Most feminine bushes will bear some fruit with out the presence of a male as a result of most of the flowers are excellent.


The bushes ought to be spaced 40 to 45 ft (12-14 m) aside, every approach. And one male tree ought to be planted for each 10 to 12 females to offer cross-pollination. Wind-protection is fascinating when the bushes are small. In any other case they require little or no cultural consideration.


Yield varies drastically from tree to tree if they’re grown from seed. A mature tree in Florida has produced 15 bushels of fruit in a season. One very previous tree on the dwelling of Dr. David Fairchild produced 22 bushels yielding 72 gals (273 liters) of juice.


In Indonesia, the bushes flower in September and October and the fruits mature in February and March. The fruiting season is July to September in North Vietnam. In Florida it extends from late summer season via fall and winter as a result of some bushes bloom a lot later than others.

Pests and Ailments

The tree is attacked by termites in Southeast Asia. In Florida, the leaves could also be closely attacked by mealybugs and by scale bugs and sooty mould develops on their excretions. Right here, additionally, the foliage is topic to inexperienced scurf and algal leaf spot attributable to Cephaleuros tirescens.

Meals Makes use of

In Malaya, the fruits are eaten largely by youngsters. Indonesians prepare dinner the fruits with fish. Elsewhere the fruits (unripe and ripe collectively) are made into jam and jelly although the juice is troublesome to jell and pectin have to be added. Some cooks add lemon juice as nicely. If the extracted bignay juice is saved underneath refrigeration for a day or so, there shall be a settling of considerably astringent sediment which will be discarded, thus bettering the flavour. For a number of years, the richly-colored jelly was produced on a small business scale in southern Florida. The juice makes a wonderful sirup and has been efficiently fermented into wine and brandy.

In Indonesia and the Philippines, the leaves are eaten uncooked or stewed with rice. They’re usually mixed with different greens as flavoring.

Meals Worth Per 100 g of Edible Portion*
Moisture 91.11-94.80 g
Protein 0.75 g
Ash 0.57-0.78 g
Calcium 0.12 mg
Phosphorus 0.04 mg
Iron 0.001 mg
Thiamine 0.031 mg
Riboflavin 0.072 mg
Niacin 0.53 mg

*In accordance with analyses made in Florida and the Philippines.


The bark incorporates a poisonous alkaloid. The heavy perfume of the flowers, particularly the male, may be very obnoxious to some people.

Different Makes use of

Bark: The bark yields a robust fiber for rope and cordage.

Wooden: The timber is reddish and exhausting. If soaked in water, it turns into heavy and, based on Drury, “black as iron”. It has been experimentally pulped for making cardboard.

Medicinal Makes use of: The leaves are sudorific and employed in treating snakebite, in Asia.

Associated Species

Herbert River Cherry
Fig. 55: The Herbert River Cherry of Australia (Antidesma dallachyanum) is much less showy than the bignay however the fruits have extra flesh.

The Herbert River cherry, A. dallachyanum Baill., is a bushy tree, seldom over 25 ft (7.5 m) in top. The younger shoots are barely bushy. Mature leaves, nearly hairless, are ovate to lanceolate-elliptical, 2 to six in (5-15 cm) lengthy; deep-green above, bright-green beneath; thick and leathery. The odoriferous male flower spikes are bushy, usually in panicles within the leaf axils, sometimes solitary, kind of interrupted. The greenish feminine flowers are borne in racemes. The fruits, single or in clusters of Four to 30, are spherical to obovoid, as much as 3/Four in (2 cm) large, rich-red when unripe, darkish purple-red (almost black) when ripe and really acid. They ripen pretty evenly within the cluster.

The tree is native to coastal North Queensland, rising on the borders of rain forests and on the banks of streams and lagoons. Seeds have been imported by the College of Florida Agricultural Analysis and Training Heart, Homestead, Florida, in 1941 and the seedlings grew and bore nicely. The seeds germinate readily and seedlings start to fruit at about 6 years of age when they might be Eight ft (2.Four m) tall. Multiplication may be by cuttings, air-layering or grafting. One nursery in Florida provided grafted crops on the market however they didn’t grow to be in style and the species remains to be uncommon.

In Australia, the bushes bloom from December to February and once more in September and the fruits mature of their fall and winter months. In Florida, blooming takes place from April to June and the fruit is in season in September and October.

The extracted juice may be very dark-red, almost black, but it surely yields, with the addition of pectin, a deep-red jelly.

The tree, like that of the bignay, is susceptible to infestation by mealybugs and scale bugs and related sooty mould.

The black currant tree, A. ghaesembilla Gaertn. (syn. A. pubescens Roxb.), referred to as dang kiep kdam in Cambodia, chop moi, choi moi, chua moi or chum moi in Vietnam, is a deciduous shrub or bushy tree as much as 26 or, at most, 40 ft (8-12 m), with brief, russet hairs on the younger branches, rosy new foliage and inflorescences. The mature leaves are broad-ovate or almost round, 1 half to three in (4-7.5 cm) lengthy, shiny on the higher floor. Male flower spikes, purplish or light-yellow with pollen, are dense, 1 to 2 in (2.5-5 cm) lengthy; the erect feminine shorter and never as compact. Each sorts happen in terminal panicles or not often solitary. Some bushes bear each female and male flowers however on separate branches. The bushes flower on and off throughout the 12 months however largely March to Could in Asia.

The fruit is velvety, dark-red or very dark-purple, obliquely ovoid with one seed or sometimes double with 2 seeds. The seed kernels are sharply angular. When totally ripe the fruit is subacid to considerably candy.

This species has a large pure vary: in tropical Africa, and from the moist tropical decrease Himalayas in northern India via Ceylon, southern China, Southeast Asia and Malaysia to the Walsh River area of Queensland. Typically the fruits are eaten primarily by youngsters, however they’re appreciated as thirst-quenchers by forest individuals of Thailand. They have been made into jam by early settlers in Australia. In Malaya and Indonesia, they’re made right into a type of relish, and the very younger leaves are added as acid flavoring to numerous meals.

The wooden is purple, exhausting, close-grained, easy and used for gentle rafters in huts, however for little else. Small branches are lopped twice a 12 months for gas. In India, the leaves are used to deal with fever, headache and swollen abdomens. In Cambodia, numerous elements of the tree are valued in native drugs. The bark, mixed with tobacco, is utilized on wounds of animals. Mixed with the bark of different species, it’s boiled and the decoction given to halt diarrhea. The leaves and wooden are equally employed. A decoction of younger branches and papaya roots is taken into account an efficient emmenagogue. Crushed leaves are utilized on the pinnacle of a new child toddler.

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