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Pithecellobium dulce

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Mimosa dulcis
Common Name: Madras Thorn, Manila Tamarind, Bread-and-cheese, Huamuchil, Opiuma, Asam Keranji, Blackhead, Asam Kranji, Asam Tjina, 牛蹄豆
Full Sun Moderate Water Fruit or Vegetable Tree


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Tree


Native Distribution Tropical America
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Local Conservation Status Exotic (Spontaneous (Casual))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is tree, up to 15 m tall, single or multiple trunks with dense bushy crown. Trunk become gnarled with age and twigs have a pair of sharp spines at the base of the leaf stalks which are modified from stipules.
Foliage Leaf is bipinnate, comprises of 2 pinnae and each pinnae has 2 leaflets. Leaflet is elliptic to obovate-elliptic (2 – 5 cm long and 0.2 – 2.5 cm wide) with rounded to heart-shaped tip and unequal base. Circular gland is present at the junction between the pinnae and leaflets.
Flowers Flower is small, cream-white coloured and occurs in groups of 8 – 20, which resembles a round head.
Fruits Fruit is spirally coiled into a circle (about 5 – 7 cm diameter), ripening from green to red or brown and splits open along both edges to reveal 5 – 9 seeds within. Seed is glossy black, oval-elliptical (0.9 – 1.2 cm long and 0.7 cm wide) with fleshy white or pinkish edible aril, covering the lower half of the seed.
Habitat It is found in open and disturbed fields, up to altitude 500 m.
Etymology The genus Pithecellobium comprises of Greek pithekos, meaning monkey and Greek ellobium, meaning earring, which refers to the fruit pod’s close resemblance to a monkey’s earring. Specific epithet dulce, Latin for sweet, refers to the sweet tasting seed aril.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable)
Cultural / Religious ( Heritage Tree: There are 6 individuals of Pithecellobium dulce listed as Heritage Trees in Singapore. They are mainly found in Fort Canning Park. To find out more about these trees, please visit the Heritage Tree Register. )
[Others]: The white fleshy aril is edible and sweet and seed can be used for animal feed. Boiled leaves can be eaten with salt to help indigestion, but excessive consumption may induce abortion. Bark produces gum which is used for tanning and dyeing fish nets. Bark can be grounded into powder and applied on skin to treat scorpion sting

Landscaping Features

Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 2.5 (Tree - Open Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) White


References Gardner, S., Sidisunthorn, P., & Chayamarit, K.. 2016. Forest Trees of Southern Thailand. Volume 2.. Bangkok: Kobfai Publishing Project. 792pp.

Image Repository



Master ID 1772
Species ID 3065
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 10 August 2022.