Sterculia foetida

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Sterculia foetida
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Sterculioideae
Genus: Sterculia

Sterculia foetida

Points marked in red are known occurrences of Sterculia foetida.

Sterculia foetida is a soft wooded tree that can grow up to 115 feet tall.[2] It was described in 1753 by Carolus Linnaeus.[3] Common names for the plant are the bastard poon tree, java olive tree, hazel sterculia, and wild almond tree.[2][4] The origin of the name of the bad-smelling Sterculia genus comes from the Roman god, Sterquilinus, who was the god of ferilizer or manure.


The branches of Sterculia foetida are arranged in whorls, and they spread horizontally. The tree's bark is smooth and grey. The leaves of the plant are situated at the ends of branchlets containing 7-9 leaflets. The leaflets grow elliptically, and are 10–17 cm. Also they are shortly petiouled with each petiole being 12.5–23 cm long. The petioles are the source of the foul smell of the plant.[5] Evidence suggests that the seeds of Sterculia foetida are edible, but they should be roasted prior to eating.[6] Each fruit generally contains 10-15 seeds. The flowers are found as panicles, and they are 10–15 cm long. The green or purple flowers are large and unisexual as male and female flowers are found on different trees. The calyx is a dull orange color and divided into five parts. Each sepal is 1-1.3 cm long. The follicles are scarlet.[5] In India, flowers appear in March, and the leaves appear between March and April. The fruit is ripe in February (11 months after the flowers appeared).[5]


The oil of Sterculia foetida has been found to be comparable to sunflower, soybean, and rapeseed oils for the use of biofuels. Sterculia foetida oil contains cyclopropene fatty acids such as 8,9 methylene-heptadec-8-enoic acid (malvalic) and 9,10-methylene-ocadec-9-enoic acid (sterulic). The flash point, iodine value, free fatty acid count, phosphorus content, cloud point, pour point, viscosity at 40°C, oxidative stability at 110°C, density, and trace metal count are all within ASTM and EN specifications.[7]


Sterculia foetida has been found in many areas. These aforementioned areas are Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, United States (Hawaii), Indonesia, Ghana, Australia, Mozambique, and Togo.[8]


  1. ^ "Genus: Sterculia L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2003-06-05. Retrieved 2011-03-03. 
  2. ^ a b "Sterculia Foetida - Meet the Plants - National Tropical Botanical Garden Plant Database." Sterculia Foetida - Meet the Plants - National Tropical Botanical Garden Plant Database. National Tropical Botanical Garden, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2013."
  3. ^ "vol. 2 - Caroli Linnaei ... Species plantarum - Biodiversity Heritage Library". 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  4. ^ "Species Information". Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  5. ^ a b c "Sterculia foetida". Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  6. ^ Staples, G. W. & D. R. Herbst. 2005. A Tropical Garden Flora.
  7. ^ J Am Oil Chem Soc (2012) 89:891–896
  8. ^ "Sterculia foetida L. - Checklist View". Retrieved 2013-12-10.