Limonia acidissima L.

Limonia acidissima L.




Feronia elephantum Correa, Feronia limonia (L.) Swingle.

Vernacular Names

English Wood apple, elephant apple.
Malaysia Belinggai, gelinggai.
Indonesia Kawista (Java), kusta (Bali).
Burma Thibin.
Cambodia Kramsang.
Laos Mafit.
Thailand Makhwit (Central), mafit (Northern).
Vietnam Cân thang.
French Pornme d'elephant.

Geographical Distributions

Limonia acidissima occurs naturally in India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Indo-China, where it is limited to the drier regions. It is cultivated in villages and parks throughout its natural range, and naturalized in Malaysia and Indonesia (Java, Bali). It was introduced long ago into the United States (California, Florida) for experimental purposes.


This is a small, deciduous tree that can reach up to 12 m tall, with numerous, slender-armed branches with sharp and straight spines up to 4 cm long.

The leaves are up to 12 cm long, imparipinnate with narrowly-winged rachis and petiole. The leaflets are arranged opposite in 2-3 pairs and one terminal, obovate, up to 4 cm long, with dotted oil glands and faintly aromatic when crushed.

The flowers are staminate and perfect, 5-merous, white, green or reddish-purplish, usually together in lax, terminal or axillary inflorescences.

The fruit is a hard-shelled, spherical berry, up to 10 cm diametre, with whitish scurfy surface and filled with pinkish, aromatic pulp which contains numerous slimy seeds.

The seeds are 5-6 mm long, hairy, with thick and green cotyledons. The germination is epigeal. Seedling stem is slender and slightly zigzag. The first 1-4 leaves are unifoliolate.

Ecology / Cultivation

L. acidissima thrives in monsoon or seasonally dry tropical climate. It grows up to an elevation of 450 m in the western Himalaya where it is native. In Malaysia and Indonesia, trees are pre- dominantly cultivated in the coastal regions. It is apparently drought-tolerant and best adapted to light soils.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.2: Edible fruits and nuts.