This plant species, known as “Java cedar” is a very tall tree (35 to 45 m). It has both nutritional and medicinal properties. In Taiwan, it is considered a sacred tree by locals.

Identity Card

Common name Bishop wood
Binominal name Bischofia javanica Blume

Taxonomy

Kingdom Plantae
Family Phyllanthaceae

Detailed Informations

Area of origin South-east Asia, China, Japan, Taiwan, Australia

Etymology

Bischofia is a genus named in honour of a naturalist called Bischof. Javanica means “from the island of Java”.

Description and flowering period

Bischofia javanica is a tree reaching from 30 to 45 meters in height. It bears persistent compound leaves composed of 3 oval to rounded leaflets with lightly toothed margins and a pointed apex. The flowers, each bearing 5 petals, are grouped in greenish-white clusters called panicles. The fruits are rounded drupes and can vary in colour from pink, red, brown to orange.

Uses

  • Food & drink: Wine is made from the fruits, the leaves are a key ingredient in a traditional spicy sauce in southern areas of Laos. Seeds are also edible.
  • Craftsmanship: The tannins present in the bark are used to dye rattan baskets in red. The wood is used to build furniture as well as larger construction works such as bridges.
  • Medicinal: Roots are used in traditional medicine for various ailments.

Miscellaneous

The oil present in the seed (30 to 54% oil content) is used as a lubricating agent.

Notes

It is considered as a sacred tree in Taiwan. In India, in the jungles of Bengal and the Assam Province, the trees’ trunk often bear scratch-marks made by tigers to mark their territory.

Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN


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