Dillenia indica L., Sp. Pl. 535 (1753)

Species name meaning 'from India', the place from which it was first described.

Dillenia elongata Miq.
Dillenia indica forma elongata (Miq.) Miq.
Dillenia speciosa Thunb. [Illegitimate]
Syalita Rheede

Large tree up to 120 cm diameter. Leaves alternate, spirally arranged, rather tough, conspicuously toothed margin, and many secondary veins that are impressed on the upper surface. Flowers huge, c. 20 cm diameter, white. Fruits very large, ca. 10 cm diameter, yellowish green, slimy inside.

Tree, up to 30 m high, 120 cm diam., with rather crooked trunk and irregular, usually rather lowly (up to 15 m) attached crown. Leaves bright green above, oblong, ca 25-50-nerved, 10-35 by 5-13 cm, on saplings and young trees up to 70 by 18 cm, with acute to acuminate apex, rounded to acute base, and slightly to manifestly dentate margin. Petiole 2.5-7.5 cm long, on saplings and young trees up to 15 cm. Flower 15-20 cm diam. Sepals 5, elliptic, 4-6 by 3-5 cm, up to 1 cm thick at the base. Petals white, 7-9 by 5-6.5 cm. Stamens in 2 distinct groups, the outer ones, ca. 550, 13-15 mm long, straight in bud, the inner ones, ca. 25, 20-22 mm long, with their apex reflexed in bud; yellow. Carpels 14-20, ca 14 by 3 mm, yellowish green, with linear-lanceolate, white, 25 mm long, up to 3.5 mm broad styles; each with 40-80 ovules. Fruit indehiscent, yellowish green, 8-10 cm diam. including the enclosing sepals, which are up to 15 by 12 cm, 2.5 cm thick at the base. Carpels ca 35 by 15 mm, each with 5 or more seeds in colourless glutinous pulp. Seeds reniform, 4 by 6 mm, black, finely echinate, exarillate. [from Flora Malesiana]

Mainly on stony banks of rivulets and rivers, usually at low elevation up to 500 m. Once collected at 1700 m (Atjeh, Sumatra). The dispersal of the seeds is said to be effected by animals, among others by elephants, or with current water. In the latter case the seeds may germinate in the fruit, which is left behind on the bank of a river, often partly filled up with mud which gives a favorable substratum for the germination.

The fruit, in particular the enclosing sepals, is eaten fresh and in curries and jellies. With syrup a cough mixture is made from it. The wood, which is moderately hard and has a durability under water of ca 3 years, is sometimes used for house-building or gunstocks (India). The species is planted rather often as an ornamental tree.

From Sri Lanka and India into southern China, Indochina, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java and Borneo. Cultivated in the Philippines.

Local names
China: Wu ya guo.
English: Elephant apple.
Java: Kosar, Sempu, Sempur, Sempur batu, Sempur tjai.
Malaysia: Simpur, Simpur ayer.
Philippines: Hondapara.
Singalese: Hondapara.