Bignai. Species of tropical fruit tree belonging to the family Phyllanthaceae . Widely used for edible, medicinal and cardboard manufacturing purposes .


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  • 1 Taxonomy
    • 1 Scientific name
      • 1.1 Authors
    • 2 Basonym
    • 3 Synonymy
    • 4 Common name
  • 2 Origin and distribution
    • 1 In Cuba
  • 3 Botanical characteristics
    • 1 Leaves
    • 2 Flowers
    • 3 fruits
  • 4 Climate
  • 5 Season
  • 6 Propagation
  • 7 Culture
  • 8 Performance
  • 9 Pests and Diseases
  • 10 Toxicity
  • 11 Uses
    • 1 Uses as food
    • 2 Other uses
  • 12 References
  • 13 Source


Scientific name

  • Antidesma bunius (L.) Spreng.


[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]


  • Sprengel, Curt (Kurt, Curtius) Polycarp Joachim
  • Published in: Systema Vegetabilium, editio sixteenth 1: 826. 1825. [6]


  • Stilago bunius L. [7]


  • Antidesma dallachyanum Baill. [8]
  • Antidesma andamanicum Hook.f.
  • Antidesma bunius var. cordifolium (C. Presl) Müll.Arg.
  • Antidesma bunius var. floribundum (Tul.) Müll.Arg.
  • Antidesma bunius var. genuinum Müll.Arg.
  • Antidesma bunius var. pubescens Petra Hoffm.
  • Antidesma bunius var. sylvestre (Lam.) Müll.Arg.
  • Antidesma bunius var. wallichii Müll.Arg.
  • Antidesma ciliatum C. Presl
  • Antidesma collettii Craib
  • Antidesma cordifolium C. Presl
  • Antidesma crassifolium (Elmer) Merr.
  • Antisma floribundum Tul.
  • Antidesma glabellum KDKoenig ex Benn.
  • Antidesma glabrum Tul.
  • Antidesma retusum Zipp. ex Span.
  • Antidesma rumphii Tul.
  • Antidesma stilago Poir.
  • Antidesma sylvestre Lam.
  • Antidesma thorelianum Gagnep.
  • Sapium crassifolium Elmer
  • Stilago bunius L. [9]
  • Antidesma bunius var. genuinum Müll.Arg. [10] [11]

Common name

Bignai, antidesma, bignay.

Origin and distribution

It is native to Asia and common in nature from the lower Himalayas in India , Ceylon, and Southeast Asia (but not Malaya) to the Philippines and northern Australia .

It is an abundant and invasive species in the Philippines, occasionally it is cultivated in Malaysia , it grows in all the towns of Indonesia , where the fruits are commercialized in clusters.

The “United States Department of Agriculture” received seeds from the Philippines in 1905 , twice in 1913 , and again in 1918 . Very few trees have been planted in South Florida in the past, and the fruits were prized as a source of juice and jelly, and were traded on a limited basis. There are specimens at the experimental stations in Cuba , Puerto Rico , Honduras and Hawaii .

In Cuba

Its presence in Cuba is very scarce. [12]

Botanical characteristics


It is a tree 10 to 26 feet (3-8 m) tall, or it can go up to 50 or even 100 feet (15-30 m). The branches are widely spread and form a dense crown.


They are perennial and alternate, oblong and pointed, 4 to 9 inches (10-22.5 cm) long and 2 to 3 inches (5-7.5 cm) wide, dark green, shiny, korean, with very short petiole .


They are classified as male and female, small, smelly, reddish in color, occur on separate trees, the male in axillary or terminal spikes, the female in terminal clusters 3 to 8 inches (7.5-20 cm) long.



They are round or ovoid, up to 1/3 inch (8 mm) in diameter, produced in independent clusters like grapes (often in pairs), which are very showy, because the fruits ripen unevenly, so they are At the same time present in the cluster, white, green, pale yellow, bright red and almost black fruits in all stages of ripening.

The skin is fine and hard, but produces abundant bright red juice that leaves a purple stain on the fabrics, while the pulp, only 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, is white with colorless juice. Whole and immature fruits are very acidic, very similar to blueberries, when they ripen they are subacid and slightly sweet.

Some tasters detect a certain bitterness as “remnant”, which is imperceptible to others. They have a straw-colored, irregularly shaped, flattened oval, ribbed, very hard core, 3/8 inch (1 cm) long and 1/4 inch (6 mm) wide.


The tree is not strictly tropical, it has been shown to survive to central Florida. It thrives in Java from sea level at 4,000 feet (1,200 m). It grows well and produces flowers but does not curdle in Israel .


In Indonesia, the trees bloom in September and October and the fruits ripen in February and March . The fruiting season is from July to September in North Vietnam . In Florida it extends from late summer to fall and winter because some trees flower much later than others.


Many seeds are not viable in Florida, perhaps due to insufficient pollination. Since seed plants can be males, and females take a number of years to produce, vegetative propagation is preferable. The tree is easy to multiply by cuttings , grafting or layering. Air layering has paid off in 3 years after transplanting to the field. Ochse recommends grafting in the rainy season because the stems will remain dormant in dry weather. Most female trees bear some fruit without the presence of a male, because many of the flowers are perfect.


Trees should be spaced 40 to 45 feet (12-14 m) apart each way. And one male tree should be planted for every 10 to 12 females to provide cross-pollination. Wind protection should be provided when the trees are small. In another sense, they require very little cultural attention.


Yield varies considerably from tree to tree if grown from seed. A mature Florida tree has produced 15 bushels of fruit in one season. A very old tree in Dr. David Fairchild’s house produced 22 bushels that yielded 72 gallons (273 liters) of juice.

Plagues and diseases

The tree is attacked by termites in Southeast Asia. In Florida, the leaves can be strongly attacked by mealybugs or aphids and by some insects and fungi that produce sooty mold in their excretions. Here, too, the foliage is susceptible to green crust and leaf spot caused by Cephaleuros tirescens algae .


The bark contains a toxic alkaloid . The strong fragrance of flowers, especially male ones, is very unpleasant for some people.


Food uses

The fruits are mainly consumed by children. Indonesians cook fruits with fish. Elsewhere the fruits (green and ripe together) are made in jam and jelly although the juice is difficult to gelatinize and pectin must be added . Some cooks also add lemon juice. If the juice extracted from the bignai is kept refrigerated for a day or two, a somewhat astringent sediment is produced that can be discarded, which improves the taste.

For several years, the color-rich gelatin was produced on a small commercial scale in South Florida. The juice makes an excellent syrup that has been successfully fermented in wine and brandy.


In Indonesia and the Philippines, the leaves are eaten raw or cooked with rice. They are often combined with other vegetables as a flavoring.

Other uses

Bark : Produces a strong fiber for ropes and twine.

Wood : It is reddish and hard. If soaked in water, it becomes heavy and, according to Drury, “black as iron.” It has been experimented as a pulp for the manufacture of cardboard.

Medicinal uses : The leaves are sudorific and used in Asia in the treatment of snake bites


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