Chrysophyllum cainito L.

Calophyllum inophyllum L.





Vernacular Names


Sawu duren, pepulut.


Caimito, starapple.


Sawo ijo (Java), sawo hejo (Sunda), sawo kadu (Bantam).




Chicle durian.


Sataa appoen (Bangkok).


Caimite, pomme surette.

Geographical Distributions

Chrysophyllum cainito is indigenous to the West Indies, spread early over tropical America  and now it is cultivated throughout the tropics. In Southeast Asia, it is found more in the Philippines, Thailand  and southern Indo-China.


C. cainito is an evergreen tree, conforming to Troll's architectural model, up to 30 m tall and with white gummy latex. Branchlets are numerous, plagio-tropic, brown hairy, but become hairless with age. The upright basal parts of successive leading branches align to form the trunk.

The leaves are arranged alternately, spreading; oblong to obovate, measuring 5-16 cm x 3-6 cm, leathery, reddish ferruginous-sericeous on both sides, becoming hairless above and almost parallel secondary nerves are very characteristic. The petioles are 0.6-1.7 cm long.

The inflorescences are axillary on current season's shoots, with 5-35 clustered, small and yellowish to purplish-white flowers. The 5 sepals are circular to ovate. The petal is tubular, about 4 mm long, with 5 lobes and ovate. There are 5 stamens while the stigma is 7- to 11-lobed.

The fruit is an obovoid-spherical berry, 5-10 cm in diametre and purplish-brown or yellowish-green. The skin is thin, glossy, smooth and leathery. The flesh is purple or white, 3-12 mm thick, soft and juicy, surrounding the 4- to 11-celled endocarp, which is star-like when cut transversely.

There are 3-10 seeds, flattened obovoid, measuring about 2 cm x 1 cm x 0.5 cm, purplish-black, with chartaceous testa and a large lighter-coloured hilum.

Ecology / Cultivation

C. cainito grows successfully on almost all types of soil and within a range of climate. Throughout Southeast Asia, it thrives in the lowlands (up to 400 m elevation) and in areas with a distinct dry season. Undue loss of leaves and less juicy or even shriveled fruit indicate that drought is too severe and irrigation is needed. Fertile, well-drained and slightly acidic soils are preferred.

Line Drawing / Photograph



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