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IUCN: not evaluated
Family: MALVACEAE Genus: Sterculia Species: foetida Species Author: L. Vernacular: Skunk tree, Java Olive, Kelumpang, Bangar
Java olive is a soft wooded tree that grows up to 115 feet high. In tea growing regions the soft wood is used to make tea chests. The tree has smooth, grayish-white bark and a fibrous inner bark. The large, palmately compound leaves are crowded at the ends of the branches and have 5-9 leaflets. The foul smelling flowers are bell-shaped, 5-lobed, yellowish green when they open and later turn deep red. The woody, bright-red fruit consist of 1-5 spreading follicles that are armed with stiff stinging bristles along the inner margins. Each follicle splits to reveal up to 17 blue-black seeds attached to the inner margins.
(Barwick, M. 2004. Tropical & Subtropical Trees: An Encyclopedia. Staples, G. W. & D. R. Herbst. 2005. A Tropical Garden Flora.)
Raw seeds may be poisonous.
Plants are readily propagated from seed and need no special care. (Staples, G. W. & D. R. Herbst. 2005. A Tropical Garden Flora.)
The Java-olive occurs in seasonally dry areas of the Old World tropics. It is occasionally cultivated in Hawai'i, but is best admired from afar when flowering because of the offensive smell.
Some sources report the seeds to be edible raw, but other sources state should be roasted first. (Staples, G. W. & D. R. Herbst. 2005. A Tropical Garden Flora.)
We currently have 4 herbarium specimens for Sterculia foetida in our collection. Click on any specimen below to view the herbarium sheet data.