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Nephelium lappaceum L.

Family Name: Sapindaceae
Synonyms: Dimocarpus crinita, Euphoria nephelium
Common Name: Rambutan, Hairy Lychee, 红毛丹
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Caterpillar Food Plant Native to Singapore Fruit & Vegetable Herb & Spice Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Medium (16m-30m), Small (6m-15m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded
Maximum Height 10 m to 25 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 9 m to 12 m


Native Distribution Malesia
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Others - Plant Morphology Fruit tree, 10-25m height in ground. Leaves glossy green, compound. Flowers yellowish-green to white, small, inconspicuous, petalless, in clusters, with mild sweet scent, dioecious (male and female flowers on separate trees) or bisexual, rich in nectar, attract bees.Fruits oval to spherical drupe, leathery skin with flexible hairy spines, mature from green to red. Aril white, fleshy, edible and sweet, surrounds single large seed. Fruits loved by birds and bats.Suitable for economic gardens. Prefers rich, well-drained soils. Fertiize regularly. Propagate by marcotting, grafting or seed. Marcotted trees bear fruit in 1-2 years, seed trees in 5-6 years. 2 main flowering and fruiting seasons in SE Asia, usually after dry period. Mature trees produce up to 90kg of fruit per year, commonly sold in local markets and supermarkets.Genus epithet 'Nephelium' derived from Greek word for cloud. Species epithet 'lappaceum' means 'having a bur', a reference to the texture of the fruit peel. Common name 'rambutan' derived from Malay word 'rambut' (hair),again alluding to the fruits. Closely related to Dimocarpus longan (Longan) and Litchi chinensis (Lychee).
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)
Food (Herb and Spice;Fruit & Vegetable)
[Others]: Commonly cultivated in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia for edible fruits, consumed raw, stewed, or canned in syrup. Rich in vitamin C (51mg / 100g of pulp). Fruits also used to treat diarrhoea and fever. Roots used as fever remedy. Bark used to treat tongue diseases. Young shoots used to make green dye for silk. Oils and fats extracted from roasted seeds used to make candles and soap in Asia.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses General
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden, Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting, Caterpillar Food Plant
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee), Insects (Butterfly, Moth), Insects (Ant, Beetle, Fly, Thrip, Wasp))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Diseases Fruits eaten by birds and bats.
Propagation Method Seed, Grafting, Marcotting
Propagation Method Remarks Trees grown from seed bear fruits in 5-6 years. Grafted and marcotted trees fruit in 1-2 years.


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny
Foliar Type Compound (Even-Pinnate)
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate, Oval)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Acute
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Bark Colour(s) Grey to brown, with white flecks
Mature Bark Texture Smooth
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Dioecious
Flower Colour(s) Green, White, Yellow / Golden
Flower Size - Remarks Small, inconspicuous, petalless
Inflorescence Type Panicle
Flowering Period Hot & Dry Period
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Day
Flowering Habit Polycarpic
Flowering Opening Time Remarks Flowers open in early morning (6am).

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Red
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Drupe

Image Repository



Master ID 1749
Species ID 3042
Species record last updated on: 14 October 2021.