Gnetum gnemon L.

Last updated: 15 June 2015

Scientific Name

Gnetum gnemon L.


Gnemon ovalifolia (Poir.) Kuntze, Gnetum acutatum Miq., Gnetum ovalifolium Poir., Gnetum polystachyum Reinw. ex Blume [Invalid], Gnetum sylvestre Brongn., Gnetum vinosum Elmer. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Sabong (Iban); melintajau, belingar, sejuntih, sokak [2], meninjau, belinjau [3]
English Melinjo, Spanish joint fir [3], dwarf gnemon tree, gnemon tree [4]
China Ghuang zhuang mai ma teng [4]
India Amih, amih hittuh, han-thu [4]
Indonesia Melinjo, belinjo, bagoe [3]
Thailand Peesae [3]
Philippines Bago, banago [3]
Cambodia Voë khlaèt [3]
Vietnam Gâm cây, bét [3]

Geographical Distributions

Gnetum gnemon is found throughout Southeast Asia (although it is not native to Java and Sumatra) and reaches north to Assam and east to Fiji. Cultivation is limited to Southeast Asia. [3]

G. gnemon tree occurs wild in rainforests at elevations up to 1200 m and it is common on river banks in New Guinea. [3]

Botanical Description

G. gnemon is comes from family Gnetaceae. It is a slender dioecious evergreen tree with a straight domineering trunk. It is 5-10 m tall, grey and marked with conspicuous raised rings. The trunk is clad with numerous whorls of branches down to the base. The branches are thickened at the base. [3]

The leaves are arranged opposite, elliptical and measuring 7.5-20 cm x 2.5-10 cm. The secondary nerves are bent and joining. [3]

The inflorescences are solitary and axillary, also on the older wood and measure 3-6 cm long with flowers in whorls at the nodes. There are 5-8 female flowers at each inflorescence node, spherical and tipped. [3]

The fruit is nutlike, ellipsoid, measures 1-3.5 cm long, with a short apiculate, almost velvety and yellow turns red to purple when ripe. [3]

The seed is 1 per fruit, large and horny. The embryogeny may not be completed by the time the seed is shed. Further development occurs on the ground. The seeds take several months to 1 year to germinate. The juvenile phase lasts for 5-8 years. [3]

The twigs are flush and flower throughout the year, but the climate in the major centres imposes a degree of synchrony and often leading to two distinct harvest periods per year. [3]


For cultivation, G. gnemon seems to prefer the areas with a distinct dry season, probably because of the concentrated harvest in such environments. There appear to be no specific requirements with respect to soil quality and depth, but adequate moisture retention and a seepage water or irrigation is necessary to bridge the dry season. The tree has been recommended for environmental protection (regreening) programmes. [3]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation

Plant Part Used

No documentation

Traditional Use

No documentation

Preclinical Data

No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of G. gnemon. [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Fagraea elliptica Roxb. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [Updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2015 June 9]. Available from:
  2. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR; 2002. p. 379.
  3. Verheij EWM, Sukendar. Gnetum gnemon L.In: Verheij EWM and Coronel RE, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 2: Edible fruits and nuts. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc Scientific Publisher, 1991; p. 182-184.
  4. Quattrocchi U.  CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012. p. 360-361.