Gnetum gnemon L.

Gnetum gnemon L.




Gnetum acutatum Miq., Gnetum vinosum Elmer.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Meninjau, belinjau.
English Melinjo, Spanish joint fir.
Indonesia Melinjo, belinjo, bagoe.
Philippines Bago, banago.
Cambodia Voë khlaèt.
Thailand Peesae.
Vietnam Gâm cây, bét.

Geographical Distributions

Gnetum gnemon is found throughout Southeast Asia (although it is not native to Java and Sumatra) and reaches north to Assam and east to Fiji. Cultivation is limited to Southeast Asia.


G. gnemon is a slender dioecious evergreen tree with a straight domineering trunk. It is 5-10 m tall, grey and marked with conspicuous raised rings. The trunk is clad with numerous whorls of branches down to the base. The branches are thickened at the base.

The leaves are arranged opposite, elliptical and measuring 7.5-20 cm x 2.5-10 cm. The secondary nerves are bent and joining.

The inflorescences are solitary and axillary, also on the older wood and measure 3-6 cm long with flowers in whorls at the nodes. There are 5-8 female flowers at each inflorescence node, spherical and tipped.

The fruit is nutlike, ellipsoid, measures 1-3.5 cm long, with a short apiculate, almost velvety and yellow turns red to purple when ripe.

The seed is 1 per fruit, large and horny. The embryogeny may not be completed by the time the seed is shed. Further development occurs on the ground. The seeds take several months to 1 year to germinate. The juvenile phase lasts for 5-8 years.

The twigs are flush and flower throughout the year, but the climate in the major centres imposes a degree of synchrony and often leading to two distinct harvest periods per year.

Ecology / Cultivation

The tree occurs wild in rainforests at elevations up to 1200 m and it is common on river banks in New Guinea. Areas with a distinct dry season seem to be preferred for cultivation, probably because of the concentrated harvest in such environments. There appear to be no specific requirements with respect to soil quality and depth, but adequate moisture retention and a seepage water or irrigation is necessary to bridge the dry season. The tree has been recommended for environmental protection (regreening) programmes.

Line Drawing / Photograph



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