Sterculia foetida

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Sterculia foetida
Leaf of Sterculia foetida
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Sterculioideae
Genus: Sterculia
Binomial name
Sterculia foetida
  • Clompanus foetida (L.) Kuntze
  • Clompanus foetidus (L.) Kuntze
  • Sterculia mexicana var. guianensis Sagot[1]
Follicle and seeds of Sterculia foetida - MHNT
Points marked in red are known occurrences of Sterculia foetida.
Fruit and leaves 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 fertilizer or manure.


The branches of Sterculia foetida are arranged in whorls; they spread horizontally. The tree's bark is smooth and grey. The leaves are placed at the end of branchlets; they have 12.5–23-cm-long petioles; the blades are palmately compound, containing 7-9 leaflets. The leaflets are elliptical, 10–17 cm long, and shortly petioluled The petioles are the source of the foul smell of the plant. [5] The flowers are arranged in panicles, 10–15 cm long. The green or purple flowers are large and unisexual as the tree is dioecious (male and female flowers are found on different trees). The calyx is dull orange and is divided into five sepals, each one 1-1.3 cm long. The fruit consists of four to five follicles, each follicle generally containing 10-15 seeds. The follicles are scarlet when ripe.[5] In India, flowers appear in March, and the leaves appear between March and April. Interestingly, at Hyderabad (India), flowering was observed in September-October (2015) with ripened fruits on the top part and young green fruits at the lower branches. 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 acid) and 9,10-methylene-ocadec-9-enoic acid (sterulic acid). 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.[6]

Evidence suggests that the seeds of Sterculia foetida are edible, but they should be roasted prior to eating.[7]


Sterculia foetida has been found in many areas. These aforementioned areas are India, Taiwan, Indochina, the Philippines (where it is known as kalumpang[8]), United States (Hawaii), Indonesia, Ghana, Australia, Mozambique, and Togo.[9]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Sterculia Foetida" - Meet the Plants - National Tropical Botanical Garden Plant Database. 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" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  6. ^ J Am Oil Chem Soc (2012) 89:891–896
  7. ^ Staples, G. W. & D. R. Herbst. 2005. A Tropical Garden Flora.
  8. ^ "Kalumpang, Sterculia foetida, wild almond, Xiang ping po: Philippine Herbal Medicine / Philippine Alternative Medicine". Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  9. ^ "Sterculia foetida L. - Checklist View". Retrieved 2013-12-10.