Gnetum gnemon

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Related Links
G. gnemon trees: Gnetum gnemon planted as a windbreak and source of food on an agroforestry farm in Indonesia.
© Rafael T. Cadiz
G. gnemon potted seedling
© Rafael T. Cadiz
Seed pods: Cluster of seed pods.
© Rafael T. Cadiz
Seeds: Harvested seeds.
© Rafael T. Cadiz
Line artwork of reproductive structures: 1. flowering habit 2. male inflorescence 3. female inflorescence
© Rafael T. Cadiz

Local names:
Burmese (hyinbyin,tanyin-ywe), English (kampong tree,Spanish joint fir,gnetum,joint fir), Filipino (banago,bago,lamparan,nabo), Indonesian (melingo,melinjo,bagoe), Malay (meninjau,belinjau), Thai (peesae,phak kariang,phak miang,liang), Vietnamese (gam ca

Gnetum gnemon is a shade tolerant, slender evergreen tree, up to 15 m tall. Usually branching in whorls from the base and deeply rooted with a strong tap root system.
G. gnemon does not develop buttresses, the trunk is most recognisable with regular swollen rings around the girth, marking the position of old branches.

Leaves broad (10-20 cm), opposite, dark green, shiny, elliptic with netted veins.

Flowers are monosexual; in catkin-like formations; the male flower consists of a stamen and perianth ;female flowers, 5-8 at each node have an ovule with two integuments and a perianth.

Fruits ellipsoid usually in clusters,1-3.5 cm long and half as wide, turning yellow to orange-red then purple at maturity.

G. gnemon exists in several varieties, such as the tree form (var. gnemon) and the shrub forms (vars. Brunonianum, griffithii and tenerum).


Occasional in lowland ridges and mature fallow forest. Commonly found in secondary humid evergreen dipterocarp forests of S.E. Asia. Commonly cultivated in or near gardens and in home gardens in South East Asia.

Native range
Fiji, India, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands

Daily watering of the sand and seed mixture will hasten germination, possibly to three months. Without a pre-germination treatment, germination may be 1-2% in 6 months and may reach 100%  in 12 months. Greater seedling height in inoculated seedlings can be achieved by providing compost and rock phosphate.

Occasional in lowland ridges and mature fallow forest. Commonly found in secondary humid evergreen dipterocarp forests of S.E. Asia. Commonly cultivated in or near gardens and in home gardens in South East Asia.

The popular propagation method is by direct seeding. However, vegetative propagation is possible by air layering, grafting, oculation and cuttings. Addition of humic acids at 400 mg/litre yielded the fastest growth of shoots from nodal segments in tissue culture experiments with G. gnemon.

Poison:  Woodsmoke and topical applications reduced biting of human volunteers by the anopheline mosquitoes (Anopheles punctulatus, A. koliensis, A. bancroftii, A. karwari and A. farauti) by 79% and 51%, respectively (Paru et al. 1995). Enzymic inhibition prevents insect predation of foliage.

It is possible to use this tree for dryland rehabilitation and afforestation. It can survive annual rainfall of 750-1000 mm

  The nutritious seeds are consumed as a snack called emping, and the young leaves, flowers and fruits are used as vegetables; eaten either raw, boiled or roasted. The seed is cooked or preserved as pounded flat cakes from which crispy snacks can be made. An active trade in the seeds exists and small to medium size emping industries exist in Indonesia, specifically in west Java, central Java and northern Sumatra.

Fibre:  Its bast fibers provide durable cordage for fishing nets, lines, string bags and other durable tools. A potential economic use of this plant is the utilisation of its bark in rope making. 

Timber:  Wood used in Indonesia for pulp and house construction and in Malaysia, and Hong Kong for paper, boxes, and housing.

Shade or shelter:  Provides shade for sciophytic plant species.

Medicine:  Leaf sap used medicinally to cure an eye complication.

Nitrogen fixing:  Has the ability to improve nitrogen levels due to its mycorrhizal associations.with the ectomycorrhizal fungus Scleroderma sinnamariense. In experimental conditions, mycorrhizal inoculation appears to enhance seedling growth under shaded conditions in acidic soils.

Soil improver:  Has the ability to improve physical soil properties.

Intercropping:  When intercropped with yams, can act as stakes for climbing yams, pana and other understorey shrubs.

Alcohol:  Prospects of making a potable sap from this species should be explored.