Bignay | Currant Tree – Antidesma bunius

Bignay tree, Antidesma bunius, also known as Currant Tree is a variable tree, short and bushy, 6-12 meters in height or a tall and upright tree, achieving 30 meters in height. Bignay is an evergreen, fruit bearing tree, indigenous to Southeast Asia, Northern Australia and the Philippines but rarely found anyplace else away from these regions.

Leaves are large, oval formed, leathery, dark-green and shiny up to about 20cm long and 7cm wide. In the Philippines and Indonesia the leaves are consumed raw, poached with rice or blended with other vegetables. Flowers are small, reddish, borne on inflorescences of 20-40 each with male and female flowers developing on separate trees. The flowers are with a heavy, somewhat displeasing scent.

Bignay is dioecious; trees are both male and female. Female trees will bear some fruit without the presence of a male tree since many of the flowers are perfect. Antidesma bunius is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family the genus Antidesma.

Bignay Fruit

Bignay fruiting takes place later, commonly during late summer and early fall, with fruits on a single inflorescence ripen at varying times. The fruits are round, small, 1cm wide and berry like, hanging one by one or paired in long, heavy bundles.

While the thin skin of the fruit contains an abundance of red juice its white flesh contains a colorless juice. Fruit has a tangy but sweet taste when ripe and it is usually eaten fresh or used to make jellies, jams, wine and brandy. In some Southeast Asia regions they cook the fruits with fish.

Bignay Propagation Methods

Tree Propagation is frequently by seed but the preferred technique is by air-layering, grafting or cuttings since seedlings might turn out to be male plants, and female seedlings might not bear for a number of years. Bignay grows in full sun or partly shade. While a tropical plant will tolerate light frosts and it is hardy to -3°C. Wind-protection is required when the trees are young and small. The plant is frequently grown in backyard fruit tree gardens in Southeast Asia.

Bignay, Antidesma bunius

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