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Antidesma bunius - (L.) Spreng.

Common Name Bignay, Bignai
Family Phyllanthaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The bark contains a toxic alkaloid[ 303 ].
Habitats Wet evergreen forest, dipterocarp forest and teak forest; on river banks, at forest edges, along roadsides; in bamboo thickets; in semi-cultivated and cultivated areas; in shady or open habitats; usually in secondary but also in primary vegetation[ 327 ].
Range E. Asia - China, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea, northern Australia to the Pacific Islands.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Antidesma bunius Bignay, Bignai

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Antidesma bunius Bignay, Bignai


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Bignay or Antidesma bunuis is a small tropical bushy tree that is usually 3 - 6 m tall but can reach 15 -30 m high. It is also known as Chinese laurel, currant tree, and buni. It is a dioecious plant. In Asia, the dark green, long, narrow, and shiny leaves are commonly used for treating snakebites. The leaves and roots are used for traumatic injury. Bignay fruit is edible, usually eaten raw or cooked and used in jam, jellies and preserves. It is round in shape, small, juicy and has a sweet taste. Young leaves are also edible and commonly eaten raw in salads or steamed as a side dish. The bark produces strong fibre for rope and cordage. The hard, reddish timber is used for making cardboards. The bark contains a toxic alkaloid. Bignay is also used as an ornamental tree.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Antidesma bunius is an evergreen Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Flies, insects. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid, very alkaline and saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Antidesma andamanicum Hook.f. Antidesma ciliatum C.Presl Antidesma collettii Craib Antidesma cordifo


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves
Edible Uses:

Edible portion: Fruit, Leaves, Spice/flavoring. The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked and used in jellies, preserves etc[ 301 ]. When fully ripe, the thin but tough-skinned fruit is juicy and slightly sweet[ 200 , 301 , 303 ]. The fruit is likened by some people to cranberries and is eaten mainly by children[ 303 , 307 ]. The round fruit is up to 8mm in diameter with a relatively large seed, it is used mainly for jams and jellies, though it needs extra pectin added for it to jell properly[ 298 , 303 ]. The fruit is carried in redcurrant-like clusters of 20 - 40 near the shoot tips[ 200 ]. Some tasters detect a bitter or unpleasant aftertaste, unnoticeable to others[ 303 ]. If the extracted bignay juice is kept under refrigeration for a day or so, there is settling of a somewhat astringent sediment, which can be discarded, thus improving the flavour[ 303 ]. Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads or steamed and used as a side dish with rice[ 301 , 303 , 307 ]. A slightly sour flavour, the leaves turn brown when cooked but retain their texture well[ 298 ]. They can be cooked with other foods in order to impart their sour flavour[ 301 ].

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.

The leaves are sudorific and employed in treating snakebite in Asia[ 303 ]. The leaves and roots are used as medicine for traumatic injury[ 266 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fibre  Paper  Pioneer  Shelterbelt  String  Wood

Other uses rating: Medium (3/5). Screening, Windbreaks, Public Open Space, Small Street Tree, Backyard Tree. Agroforestry Uses: A natural pioneer species, often common in the early stages of secondary forest succession and also invading marginal grassland[ 327 ]. The tree has occasionally been employed in reforestation projects[ 303 ]. This species seems to be an excellent choice as a pioneer for establishing a woodland, preferably used within its native range because of its tendency to invade habitats[ K ]. Other Uses The bark yields a strong fibre for rope and cordage[ 303 ]. The timber has been experimentally pulped for making cardboard[ 303 ]. The timber is reddish and hard. If soaked in water, it becomes heavy and hard[ 303 ]. Valued for general building, even though it is not very durable in contact with the soil and is also subject to attacks from termites[ 307 , 327 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Grows best in the hot, humid tropical lowlands[ 200 , 335 ]. It thrives at elevations up to 1,200 metres in Java[ 303 ]. The tree is not strictly tropical for it has proved to be hardy up to central Florida[ 303 ]. Plants can tolerate occasional light frosts[ 335 ]. Grows best in a sunny position or light shade in a fertile, moisture-retentive soil[ 307 ]. Plants can succeed in a variety of soil conditions[ 335 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating 5.5 - 8[ 418 ]. Wind-protection is desirable when the trees are young[ 303 ]. An abundant and invasive species in the Philippines[ 303 ]. Trees can start producing fruit in 5 - 6 years from seed, or as little as 2 - 3 years from grafted plants[ 335 ]. The heavy fragrance of the flowers, especially the male, is very obnoxious to some people[ 303 ]. Plants are dioecious - there are separate male and female forms. However, female forms fruit freely even when there is no male present for pollination[ 200 ]. One male tree should be planted for every 10 to 12 females to provide cross-pollination[ 303 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Seed - Whenever the seeds are used, they need about one month of after-ripening and can then be sown under shade without pre-treatment[ 303 ]. Fresh seeds need pre-treatment with sulphuric acid for 15 min followed by soaking in water for 24 hours[ 303 ]. The viability is about 3 - 70%[ 303 ]. Depulped and dried fruits of A.bunius may be stored for 2 - 5 years in airtight containers without a serious decrease in seed viability[ 303 ]. Vegetative propagation is preferred because seedlings are of uncertain sex and they do not commence cropping for a number of years[ 303 ]. Greenwood cuttings. Air layering. Plants can begin producing when three years old[ 303 ]. Grafting.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Bignay or Antidesma bunuis. Other Names: Amati, Anepu, Ariyaporiyan, Bignai, Bol-aborak, Bor-heloch, Bugnay, Buneh, Buni, Chinese laurel, Currant Tree, Dieng-soh-silli, Herbert River cherry, Himalcheri, Huni, Kantjer, Karikoomma, Kunchur-kung, Nayikoote, Nolaiali, Noolitali, Pani heloch, Salamander tree, Somkongasing, Sonkong esing, Wuni.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Asia, Australia, Bhutan, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, China, Himalayas, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Northeastern India, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, PNG, SE Asia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South America, Sri Lanka, Thailand, USA, Vietnam.

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.

May be weedy

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

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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Expert comment


(L.) Spreng.

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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