Myrica esculenta Buch. -Ham.

Myrica esculenta Buch. -Ham.




Myrica farquhariana Wallich, Myrica sapida Wallich, Myrica nagi auct. non Thunb.

Vernacular Names


Telur chicak, gelincek, kesami (Peninsular).


Box myrtle.

Indonesia Ki keper (Sundanese), samben, woru gesik (Javanese).

Metchun tua phuu (Phangnga), ruesee sek (Chai Nat), maak-mon-on (Shan-Chiang Mai).

Geographical Distributions

Myrica esculenta is native to a large part of South Asia. It is found in the Himalayas of Nepal, in southern China eastwards to Guangdong province, in northern India, Burma, Indo-China and Thailand. In Malaysia, it occurs in Peninsular Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia (Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java, the Lesser Sunda Islands). Box myrtle is very rarely cultivated.


Myrica esculenta is a small, evergreen dioecious tree which can reach up to 15 m tall. The trunk is 40 cm in diametre, crooked and irregularly branched. The bark is greyish-brown and measure 5-15 mm thick. The buds and twigs are usually clothed with long hairs and mixed with scattered sessile glands.

The leaves are arranged spirally, coriaceous, lance-shaped-obovate or oblong-obovate, measuring (2.5-)5-18 cm x 1-4.5 cm, usually wedge-shaped at the base, acute or obtuse at the apex, entire or sometimes coarsely serrate, more or less hairless and minutely glandular beneath and without stipules. The petiole is 2-10 mm long.

The flowers are in catkins, which are borne on stalks up to 8 cm long in the leaf-axils. Each flower is subtended by a bract. The male flowers are with (2-)4 stamens and with red anthers while the female flowers are with an initially hairy ovary and two slender, sharply-pointed stigmas.

The fruit is an ellipsoid drupe, measuring 1-2 cm long, beset with rounded tubercles, red when ripens and 1-seeded. Fruits mature in about 6 months after flowering.

Ecology / Cultivation

In Southeast Asia, Myrica esculenta occurs in light forests, where it is locally numerous. It prefers dry, well-drained soils, and can be found on sandy dunes and stony laterites, from the lowland up to 1700 m altitude. In India and China, box myrtle grows in a subtropical climate on hills and mountains at 900—2100 m altitude.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 3: Dye and tannin-producing plants.