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Morton, J. 1987. Rambai. p. 220. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.


Rambai

Baccaurea motleyana Hook. f.



A fruit somewhat resembling the langsat (q.v.) but belonging to a different family, Euphorbiaceae, is the rambai, Baccaurea motleyana Hook. f., called rambi in the Philippines, mai-fai-farang in Thailand.

Description

The slow-growing tree, ordinarily to 30 or 40 ft (9-12 m), occasionally up to 60 ft (18 m), has a short, thick trunk, broad, dense, rounded crown and silky-hairy new branchlets. The leaves are evergreen, spiralled, 6 to 13 in (15-33 cm) long, 3 to 6 in (7.5-15 cm) wide; dark-green, glossy, with conspicuously indented veins on the upper surface; greenish-brown and hairy below. The small, fragrant male and female flowers are borne on separate trees. They are petalless, with 4 to 6 chartreuse, velvety sepals, the female arranged in racernes 10 to 30 in (25-75 cm) long; the male in racemes 3 to 6 in (7.5-15 cm) long. The fruits, in showy strands dangling from the older branches and trunk, are oval, 1 to 1 3/4 in (2.5-4.5 cm) long and 1 in (2.5 cm) thick, with thin, salmon-colored or brownish-yellow, velvety skin becoming wrinkled after ripening. The translucent, white, sweet-to-acid pulp is in 3 to 5 segments which separate readily, each segment containing a brown, flat seed about 1/2 in (1.25 cm) long, adherent to the pulp.

The rambai is native and commonly cultivated in the lowlands of Malaya, grows wild in Bangha and Borneo and is occasionally cultivated in Java. It is valued for its shade as well as its fruits, which are eaten raw, stewed or made into jam or wine.

The wood is of low quality but used for posts. The bark serves as a mordant for dyes and is employed to relieve eye inflammation.

The very similar kapoendoeng, B. racemosa Muell. Arg., native to West, Central and East Java, is commonly cultivated and is budded onto its own rootstocks or those of B. motleyana.

A lesser-known species, the so-called Burmese grape, B. sapida Muell.-Art., called tempui in Malaya, lutqua in India, and mai fai in Thailand, grows to 30 or even 70 ft (9-21 m). The leaves are rarely, and then only slightly, hairy; the fruit, in strands 6 to 12 in (15-30 cm) long, is smooth, nearly round or oval, 1 to 1 1/4 in (2.5-3.2 cm) long. The skin turns from ivory to yellowish or pinkish-buff or sometimes bright-red. The pulp is not translucent; is whitish, occasionally deep-pink near the seeds; varies from acid to sweet.

The tree grows wild from southern China, Thailand and Cambodia to Malacca and it is occasionally cultivated in northern Malaya and Thailand.

B. dulcis Muell.-Arg., the tjoepa, toepa or ketoepa of southern Sumatra, has relatively large, sweet fruits which are abundant on local markets. It is sometimes cultivated in West Java.