Family : Elaeocarpaceae
Text © Pietro Puccio
English translation by Mario Beltramini
The species is native to Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam where it grows in the evergreen forests along the banks of the water streams at low altitudes.
The name of the genus is the combination of the Greek substantives “ἐλαία” (élaia) = olive and “καρπός” (carpòs) = fruit; the name of the species is the combination of the Latin adjective “grandis” = big and of the substantive “flos, oris” = flower, with obvious reference.
Common names: Ceylon olive, fairy petticoats, fringe bells, lily of the valley tree (English); anjang-anjang, anyang-anyang, ki ambito, maitan (Indonesian); pherng’, kok mark, som pheung’ (Lao); ando, andor (Malaysian); ye-saga (Burmese); khrai yoi, mun nam, phi nai (Thai); côm lá thon (Vietnamese).
The Elaeocarpus grandiflorus Sm. (1809) is an up to about 25 m tall evergreen tree with grey-brown bark and leaves, on a 0,5-4 cm long petiole, grouped at the apex of the branches, alternate, simple, elliptic to lanceolate with sinuate or serrate margin, 5-20 cm long and 2-5 cm broad, of reddish colour when young, then intense green. The inflorescences are axillar hanging racemes, up to 10 cm long, carrying drooping hermaphroditic flowers with 5 lanceolate sepals of pink or bright red colour, 1,5 cm long and 0,4 cm broad, campanulate corolla with 5 white obovate petals with fringed upper margin, of 2-2,5 cm of length and 1 cm of breadth, and 30-40 stamina. The fruits are ellipsoid capsules with pointed apex, 2-4 cm long and about 2 cm of diameter, of pale green colour; the endocarp is covered by thin curved spines.
It propagates by seed in organic loam with addition of sand per a 30% maintained humid at the temperature of 22-24 °C; it reproduces also by cutting and air layering. Species with long and ornamental blooming, cultivable in full sun or partial shade in the tropical and subtropical climate regions; adult specimens can stand temperatures around the 0 °C only if exceptional and for short period. Of easy cultivation, requires frequent watering when young, but once well rooted can bear short drought periods, and is not particular about the soil, provided draining. Young specimens are suitable for the cultivation in pot in order to be sheltered during the coldest months, where the climate does not allow the continuous permanence in open air, in luminous locations, with diurnal temperatures of 20-24 °C and lowest night ones not under the 14 °C. The watering must be regular in summer, more reduced in winter, allowing the substratum to partially dry up before giving water again, and the fertilizations, from spring to autumn, done preferably with balanced products with microelements.
The wood, clear and veined, is easy to work and is utilized in the constructions, for boats, furniture and handicrafts.
The leaves, fruits, bark and seeds are utilized in the traditional medicine for various pathologies; some laboratory studies have evidenced the presence of substances having promising hypoglycaemic, antibacterial and antiviral effects.
Synonyms: Cerea radicans Thouars (1805); Elaeocarpus lanceolatus Blume (1825); Elaeocarpus radicans (Thouars) Hiern (1900).