Pongamia pinnata (L.) Pierre

Last updated: 3 August 2015

Scientific Name

Pongamia pinnata (L.) Pierre


Cajum pinnatum (L.) Kuntze, Cytisus pinnatus L., Dalbergia arborea Willd., Derris indica (Lam.) Benn., Galedupa indica Lam., Galedupa pinnata (L.) Taub., Galedupa pungum J.G.Gmel., Millettia novo-guineensis Kaneh. & Hatus., Millettia pinnata (L.) Panigrahi, Pongamia glabra Vent., Pongamia glabra var. xerocarpa (Hassk.) Prain, Pongamia mitis (L.) Kurz, Pongamia mitis var. xerocarpa (Hassk.) Merr., Pongamia pinnata var. xerocarpa (Hassk.) Alston, Pongamia xerocarpa Hassk., Pterocarpus flavus Lour., Robinia mitis L. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Mempari, kacang kayu laut (Peninsular); biansu (Sarawak) [2], malapari, mempari, ekor pari, jadar [3]
English Pongam, Indian beech, Pongame oil tree (American) [2], golden tainui, gumdigger’s soap, poverty weed [4]
Indonesia Bangkong (Javanese); ki pahang laut (Sundanese); kranji (Madurese) [2]; bangkongan, kepik (Javanese); ki Pahang (Sundanese); mabai (Bangka) [3]
Thailand Khayi (Chumphon); yi-nam (Peninsular) [2]
Laos (do:k) ko:m ko:y [2]
Philippines Bani (General); balikbalik, balok (Tagalog) [2]
Vietnam D[aa]y m[aas]u, d[aa]y kim, kh[oor] s[aa]m hoa [2]
Singapore Seashore mempari [2]
Maori Kumarahou, papapa [4]
France Arbre de pongolote [2].

Geographical Distributions

Pongamia pinnata probably originated from India and occurs naturally or naturalised from Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka throughout Southeast Asia to north-eastern Australia, Fiji and Japan. It has been introduced in Egypt and the United States (Florida, Hawaii). [2]

In its natural range, P. pinnata tolerates a wide temperature range. Mature trees withstand light frost and tolerate temperatures of over 50°C. Its altitudinal range is from 0-1200 m. It is fairly tolerant of shade, at least when young. The annual rainfall required is 500-2500 mm, with a dry season of 2-6 months. It occurs naturally in the lowland forest on limestone and rocky coral outcrops on the coast, along the edges of mangrove forest and along tidal streams and rivers. The best growth is found on deep sandy loams, but it will also grow on sandy soils and heavy swelling clay soils. It is very tolerant of saline conditions and tolerant of alkalinity. [2]

Botanical Description

P. pinnata is comes from the family Leguminosae-Papilionoideae. It is an evergreen or briefly deciduous, hairless shrub or tree with spreading branches. It is 15-25 m tall and with the trunk measuring up to 80 cm in diametre. The bark is grey and smooth or faintly vertically fissured. The branchlets are with pale stipule scars. [2]

The leaves are imparipinnate, pinkish-red when young, glossy dark green above and dull green with prominent veins beneath when mature. There are 5-9 leaflets which are ovate, elliptical or oblong, measuring 5-25 cm x 2.5-15 cm, obtuse-acuminate at the apex and rounded to wedge-shaped at the base. [2]

The inflorescence is raceme-like, axillary, measures 6-27 cm long and bears pairs of strong fragrant flowers. The sepal is bell-shaped, measures 4-5 mm long, truncate and finely pubescent. The petal is white to pink, purple inside and brownish veined outside. The standard is rounded obovate, measures 1-2 cm long, with basal auricles, often with green central blotch and with thin silky hairy. The wings are oblong, oblique and slightly adherent to obtuse keel. There are 10 monadelphous stamens, vexillary one free at the base and joined to the tube in the middle. [2]

The pod is short-stalked, oblique-oblongoid to ellipsoid, flat, measuring 5-8 cm x 2-3.5 cm x 1-1.5 cm, smooth, thick-leathery to subwoody, beaked, indehiscent and with 1-2-seeded. [2]

The seed is compressed ovoid, measuring 1.5-2.5 cm x 1.2-2 cm x 0.8 cm and with a brittle coat. [2]


No documentation

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 P. pinnata [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Pongomia pinnata (L.) Pierre. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013. [updated 2012 Jul 14; cited 2015 Jul 29]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/ild-4759
  2. Oyen LPA. Pongamia pinnata (L.). In: Faridah Hanum I, van der Maesen LJG, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 11: Auxiliary plants. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher; 1997. p. 209-211.
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research.Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR; 2002. p. 251-252.
  4. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms and etymology. Volume IV M-Q. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012. p.686.