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Spondias cytherea Sonnerat

Spondias cytherea Sonnerat




Spondias dulcis Soland. ex Forst. f.

Vernacular Names



English Ambarella, otaheite apple, great hog plum.
Indonesia Kedondong manis.
Philippines Hevi.
Burma Gway.
Cambodia Mokak.
Laos Kook hvaan.
Thailand Makok-farang.


Geographical Distributions

Spondias cytherea is native throughout South and Southeast Asia. It has spread through the tropics. It is the most common Spondias species in Southeast Asia, apart from the Philippines where only S. purpurea L. is well-known. S. cytherea is also an important fruit in some Pacific Island countries, e.g. Samoa. The species is so often planted in Southeast Asia, including in forest clearings, that it is impossible to distinguish between indigenous and naturalised occurrence.


S. cytherea is a large, sometimes buttressed tree, which can reach up to 25(-45) m tall while the trunk is 45(-90) cm in diametre. The bark is shallowly fissured and greyish to reddish-brown.

The leaves are with 4-10 pairs of leaflets, 11-20 cm long rachis and 9-15 cm petiole. The leaflets are ovate-oblong to lance-shaped, measuring 5-15(-25) cm x 1.5-5 cm, chartaceous, unequal at base, with entire margin, serrate or crenulate and acuminate apex.

The inflorescences are paniculate, terminal, usually appear before the leaves and up to 35 cm long. The flowers are cream to white while the pedicel is 1-4 mm long. The 0.5 mm long sepal lobes are triangular. The petals are ovate-oblong and measuring about 2.5 cm x 1 cm. The ovary is 5(4)-celled, with 5(4) styles and free.

The fruit is an ellipsoid or spherical drupe, measuring 4-10 cm x 3-8 cm and bright-orange. The endocarp is peculiar, with irregular spiny and fibrous protuberances. The tree grows quickly and bears fruit within 4 years from seed. In the humid tropics, it produces more or less continuously, following flushing and flowering of individual twigs. In monsoon climate, flowering is concentrated in the dry season while the trees are more or less leafless. Trees in the subtropics flower in spring. In Java, trees flower in July-August and the crop is harvested in January-April when few other seasonal fruits are available. The fruit matures 6-8 months after flowering. In Australia, a period of 3.5-4.5 months has been recorded. Flowers are perfect. Many fruits have only one or two seeds. Some seeds are polyembryonic. The endocarp of good fruit has a rather small hard inner zone which is connected to a delicate peripheral zone by numerous radiating, straight or curved, spinose and fibrous protuberances. The outer zone can be easily torn or peeled off from the inner one. In New Guinea, a form occurs with small, sour but edible fruits.

Ecology / Cultivation

S. cytherea grows in the warm subtropics, as well as the tropics; it is slightly less hardy than the mango. In the tropics, it is common up to 700 m altitude. The trees require much light; shaded trees produce little or no fruit. Sheltered locations are advised, as the brittle branches break easily. The trees are drought-tolerant; under stress they may briefly lose their leaves. S. cytherea grows on limestone soils, as well as on acid sands, but the soil should be well-drained.

Line Drawing / Photograph



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

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