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Octomeles sumatrana - Miq.

Common Name Ilimo Tree
Family Datiscaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rainforests, especially along the sides of rivers, at elevations up to 1,000 metres[325 , 451 ].
Range Southeast Asia - Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Octomeles sumatrana Ilimo Tree

Octomeles sumatrana Ilimo Tree
Bernard DUPONT wikimedia.org


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Octomeles sumatrana or commonly known as Ilimo Tree is a dioecious and large tree growing about 75 m tall and can be found in Brunei, Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Solomon Islands. It is fast-growing and evergreen, with a semi-globose crown and a straight, buttressed bole which can be about 400 cm in diameter. The extract of leaves are used as relief from stomach pains. Young leaves can be cooked and eaten as vegetables. Ilimo tree has an extensive root system making it ideal for preventing soil erosion in sloping areas. It is also a pioneer species and resistant to fire damage. The bark yields dye. The wood is light, fairly soft, and only used for match boxes, concrete moulds, pallets, etc. It is also used for pulp.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Octomeles sumatrana is an evergreen Tree growing to 50 m (164ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


This name is unresolved.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses:

Young leaves - cooked and eaten as a vegetable[451 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

A leaf extract is used to cure stomach-ache[325 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

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Other Uses

Dye  Pioneer  Soil stabilization  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: The trees extensive root system binds the soil, making it an ideal plant for stabilizing river banks[451 ]. The tree is actually a pioneer species in the rainforest, rapidly invading new banks of alluvial soil built up by the rivers, but unable to regenerate once other trees close the canopy below them[451 ]. Other Uses A dye is obtained from the bark[418 ]. The heartwood is absent. The wood is light, relatively soft, coarse-textured, brittle and with poor resistance to decomposition. It is only suitable for use under cover where a weak, perishable timber will suffice, being employed to make match boxes, concrete moulds, pallets etc, and for pulp[325, 451]. The colossal stems are, however, suitable for making large canoes[451 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A tree of the moist, lowland tropics where it is generally found at elevations below 1,000 metres[451 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 29 - 34c, but can tolerate 20 - 38c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 3,000 - 4,000mm, but tolerates 2,000 - 5,000mm[418 ]. Requires a sunny position[325 ]. Succeeds in alluvial soils, clays and sandy loams[325 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 4.5 - 5.5, tolerating 4 - 6.5[418 ]. Trees can be exceptionally fast growing, with one report of a 4-year old specimen having attained a height of 25 metres and a bole diameter of 47cm[451 ]. Annual wood production potential is 25 - 40 cubic metres per hectare[418 ]. Trees are resistant to fire damage[451 ]. A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if seed is required[325 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it has a fairly short viability and should be sown before it is 12 months old[451 ]. It does not have a dormancy, and pre-treatment is not necessary. It probably germinates better in a sunny position. Seeds are sown in a nursery seedbed and only just covered, Germination will usually take place within 7 days. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they have 4 leaves and place in semi-shade for one week before returning them to a sunny position[325 ]. Plant out when 30cm tall[325 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Ilimo Tree

Brunei Darussalam; Indonesia; Malaysia; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Solomon Islands

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Lower Risk/least concern

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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