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Stelechocarpus burahol


Stelechocarpus burahol (Blume) Hook. f. & Thomson

Family Name: Annonaceae
Synonyms: Uvaria burahol
Common Name: Kepel, Kepel Apple, Burahol, Keppel 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))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Conical
Maximum Height 25 m
Tree or Palm – Trunk Diameter 0


Native Distribution Indonesia (Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan), Malaysia (Johor, Sabah, Sarawak)
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Secondary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Medium-sized tree up to 25m tall. Crown conical, with symmetrical lateral branching. Mature bark dark brown, scaly, flaking off in places.
Foliage Leaves leathery and prominently veined; young flush emerge deep red, maturing to pinkish, light green and then dark green. Each episode of flushing lasts some 2 months, usually occurring before blooming and after fruit drop.
Flowers Produced in clusters of 8-16, emerge greenish and age to whitish. Species is monoecious (separate male and female flowers on same plant) and exhibits cauliflory. Male flowers (1cm across) produced on upper trunk and older branches. Female flowers (3cm across) found only on lower trunk, visited by bees, ants and sometimes butterflies. Flowering season in native Java is typically from September to October yearly, with occasional off-season blooming.
Fruit Pollinated female flowers give rise to tennis-ball sized fruits (5-6 cm across), ripen from green to brown in 6 months (typically March to April), with slightly warty texture. Fruits are ripe, if colour is yellow or light brown (rather than green) beneath scratched skin, containing edible, orange juicy pulp with spicy mango-like flavour (described as an acquired taste). Eaten by bats and rodents in the wild, and should be protected by bagging 1-2 months before harvest. Harvested fruits can be kept for 2-3 weeks at room temperature. Mature tree yields 1,000-1,500 fruits per year, with variation caused by irregularity in rainfall. Seeds ellipsoidal, relatively large (3cm long), 4-6 per fruit.
Habitat Endangered species, native to secondary forests of Malesia.
Cultivation Prefers deep, moist soils. Best propagated by seeds, as cuttings and air-layerings are reported to be unsuccessful. Seeds from mature fruits are scarified and sown immediately. Germination can take many months, seedlings are very slow-growing and may exhibit no noticeable growth, especially in first 10 months. Juvenile phase lasts 6-9 years.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Stelechocarpus' derived from Greek terms of 'stelecho' (trunk, branch, stem) and 'karpos' (fruit), describing the cauliflorus nature of this species, and how the fruits are bore directly on the main woody parts of the tree. Common name 'Kepel' means 'of clenched fist' in Malay, all allusion to the fist-sized fruits.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Fruits, Edible Flowers
Food (Fruit & Vegetable) (Herb and Spice)
Others: Food: Cultivated in Indonesia for fruits, which are eaten fresh when ripe. Pulp popularly consumed by Indonesians who believe its natural deodorizing effects would lend a lavender-like fragrance to bodily secretions (urine, perspiration), breath and odour. Use of the fruits traditionally restricted to royalty and aristocracy. Flowers are also eaten for same reason. Medicinal: Fruit pulp used as diuretic, to prevent kidney inflammation, and cosmetically in "jamu awet ayu" (traditional Malay medicinal herbs for "lasting beauty"). Also causes temporary sterility in women, and used by royal ladies and consorts as contraceptive. Products: Timber used to make household articles. Trunk is used in house-building, and reported to last more than 50 years.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Fragrant (Flowers) (Time Independent), Ornamental Fruits
Landscape Uses General
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden, Naturalistic Garden
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Butterfly 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 Slow
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed
Propagule Establishment Remarks Propagation attempts by cuttings and air layering reported to be unsuccessful. Seeds should be sown fresh. Extract seeds from mature fruits, wash clean and dry under shade. Scarify seeds before sowing. Germination may take many months, but high percentage of germination. Germination is hypogeal, with taproot swollen and unbranched for sometime. Seedlings very slow-growing, especially at initial stage, may not display obvious growth for first 10 months. Transplant saplings of 0.5-1.0m height to field at 8-10m apart. Juvenile phase lasts 6-9 years.
Planting Distance 6 m to 9 m


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny, Leathery, Raised / Sunken Veins, Thick
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Red
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Cuneate
Typical Foliar Area Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.0 (Tree - Dense Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Bark Colour(s) Brown
Mature Bark Texture Peeling / Flaking / Papery, Scaly
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual Flowers , Monoecious
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, White
Flower Size - Remarks 1cm across, 8-16 flowers per inflorescence
Flowering Habit Polycarpic
Inflorescence Size Remarks Flowers emerge greenish and mature to whitish.
Flowering Period Remarks Typical blooming period in Java is September and October.

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Berry

Image Repository



Master ID 17912
Species ID 3344
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: 14 October 2021.