Characteristics of Benuang Tree (Octomeles sumatrana) in the Wild

Characteristics of Benuang Tree (Octomeles sumatrana) in the Wild

Benuang or Ilimo (Octomeles sumatrana) is a monotypic genus in the Tetramelaceae family. The only species is Octomeles sumatrana, which is sometimes written Octomeles sumatranum.

Benang trees are found in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and the Solomon Islands. Octomeles Sumatrana was previously classified in the Datiscaceae but was found to genetically not form a natural clade with other members of the family.


Benuang (Octomeles sumatrana) is different from Benuang Laki (Duabanga moluccana).


The Benang tree’s extensive root system can bind the soil, making it an ideal tree for stabilizing riverbanks and disturbed areas. But it cannot regenerate when other trees close the canopy beneath it.

Characteristics of Benuang Leaf

Octomeles sumatrana Leaf
Source: Samuel Lee

Single leaf, inverted oval shape.

Characteristics of Benuang Flower

Octomeles sumatrana Flower
Source: Chien Lee

The flowers are small, arranged in branched inflorescences, and grow in the leaf axils.

Characteristics of Benuang Fruit

Small fruit that breaks when dry.

Characteristics of Benuang Tree

Octomeles sumatrana Tree
Source: Chien Lee

This tree is dioecious and large, reaching a height of 40-45 meters (rarely 50 meters) and a lower trunk diameter of up to 4 meters. The trunk is straight, in mature trees it usually does not branch up to a height of 30 meters above ground level.

The bark is gray. The heartwood is pale brown or pinkish brown, the sapwood is dull white. The wood texture is soft, light, and brittle, with interlocking grains, rough, and not durable. Benang wood can be worked easily using machines and hand tools, but the wood can crumble or become rough if the cutting tools are not kept sharp. The wood can also be used for plywood and is a versatile wood useful for packing boxes, pallets, concrete covers, matchboxes, pulp, and other temporary purposes.

This tree grows along river banks in primary and secondary forests on alluvial soil at altitudes up to 600 m above sea level.

Benentang trees grow best in areas with daytime temperatures ranging from 29-34 °C but can survive temperatures of 20-38 °C. It prefers average annual rainfall ranging from 3,000-4,000 mm but can tolerate rainfall of 2,000-5,000 mm.

As pioneer species, continentals regenerate quickly in disturbed habitats such as logged forests and previously planted land. It is known that the beanang tree has very fast growth, it can grow to a height of 25 meters and a diameter at breast height of up to 47 cm in just four years, equivalent to an annual ring 6 cm wide.

In addition, like other pioneer species, it is relatively short-lived, with even continental trees more than 50 meters high rarely exceeding 85 years of age. It also has plank or buttress roots which are its characteristic, up to 6 meters high and up to 15 meters long.

Benefits of Benuang Tree

Benentang trees are sometimes harvested from the wild for use locally as food, herbal medicine, and wood. It is also cultivated as a pioneer species and for soil stabilization.

The leaves can be used as a medicine to cure stomach aches.

How to Cultivate Benuang Tree

The seeds have a fairly short lifespan and should be planted before they are 12 months old. It does not experience dormancy, and no pre-treatment is required. It may germinate better in a sunny position.

Seeds are sown in a nursery and only covered with a layer of soil. Germination usually takes place within 7 days. Move the seedlings into separate pots when they have 4 leaves and place them in a semi-shady place for one week before returning them to a sunny position. It can grow to a height of 30 cm in less than 4 months and is ready to be transferred to the ground with a spacing of 3×2 meters.

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