Mimusops elengi L.

Mimusops elengi L.




Mimusops parvifolia R. Br., Mimusops elengi var. parvifolia (R.Br.) H.J.Lam.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Bitis (General, trade name), elengi (General), mengkula (Peninsular), nyatoh batu (Peninsular, Sabah).
English Asian bulletwood, bukal, tanjung.
Indonesia Tanjung (General, trade name), karikis (North Sulawesi), tanjung laut (Moluccas).
Thailand Kun (Peninsular), kaeo (Northern), phikun (Central).
Philippines Betis (General, trade name), bansalagin (General), kabiki (Tagalog).
Myanmar Kaya.
Laos 'Sa koun, phi koun.
Vietnam C[aa]y vi[eef]t, s[eef]n c[as]t.
French Bukal, tanjung

Geographical Distributions

Mimusops comprises about 40 species, 20 of which occur in Africa, some 15 in Madagascar, five in the Mascarenes and Seychelles and one, which is M. elengi L. (synonyms: M. parvifolia R. Br., M. elengi var. parvifolia (R. Br.) H.J. Lam), occurs in Asia and the Pacific. The latter is probably native to India, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Indo-China, Thailand and the Andaman Islands, but is commonly planted throughout Malesia towards the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and northern Australia, and many other tropical countries.


Mimusops elengi is an evergreen, monoecious, small to medium-sized tree that can reach up to 30(-40) m tall. The bole is often short and divided into several large main branches but sometimes branchless for up to 15(-20) m, and measuring up to 100 cm in diametre while the buttresses are absent or up to 2 m high. The surface of the bark becomes deeply fissured and sometimes peels off in thin scales, grey, brown or dark red to blackish. The inner bark is fibrous, pink or reddish, and with scanty watery or white sticky latex. The crown is dense, rounded, spreading and glossy dark green.

The leaves are arranged alternately or distantly spiral, simple, with wavy and upcurled margins. The stipules are minute and caducous.

The flowers are bisexual or functionally male or functionally female, solitary or fasciculate in leaf axils. The sepals are in 2 whorls of 4. The petal is white, fragrant, with a short tube and 8 lobes where each is divided into three. There are 8 stamens that alternate with 8 staminodes and are inserted on the petal tube. The ovary is superior, (6-)8-locular with 1 ovule in each cell and with 1 style.

The fruit is a 1-2-seeded and ovoid to ellipsoid berry, orange and turning red when ripens. Seedling is with epigeal germination. The cotyledons are emergent and leafy while the hypocotyl is elongated. All leaves are arranged alternate-spiral. The taproot is strongly developed.

Ecology / Cultivation

Mimusops elengi is fairly common near the sea, but may also be found in rocky locations and inland forests, up to 600 m altitude. It thrives in areas with perhumid or slightly seasonal rainfall, and is usually found in seasonally dry habitats but can withstand waterlogging for up to 2 months. It requires a fertile soil.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 5(3): Timber trees: Lesser-known timbers.