This plant species, known as “Java cedar” is a very tall tree (35 to 45 m). It has both nutritional and medicinal properties. In Taiwan, it is considered a sacred tree by locals.
Bischofia is a genus named in honour of a naturalist called Bischof. Javanica means “from the island of Java”.
Description and flowering period
Bischofia javanica is a tree reaching from 30 to 45 meters in height. It bears persistent compound leaves composed of 3 oval to rounded leaflets with lightly toothed margins and a pointed apex. The flowers, each bearing 5 petals, are grouped in greenish-white clusters called panicles. The fruits are rounded drupes and can vary in colour from pink, red, brown to orange.
- Food & drink: Wine is made from the fruits, the leaves are a key ingredient in a traditional spicy sauce in southern areas of Laos. Seeds are also edible.
- Craftsmanship: The tannins present in the bark are used to dye rattan baskets in red. The wood is used to build furniture as well as larger construction works such as bridges.
- Medicinal: Roots are used in traditional medicine for various ailments.
The oil present in the seed (30 to 54% oil content) is used as a lubricating agent.
It is considered as a sacred tree in Taiwan. In India, in the jungles of Bengal and the Assam Province, the trees’ trunk often bear scratch-marks made by tigers to mark their territory.
Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN