An Eco-sustainable World
ArborealSpecies Plant

Aglaia korthalsii

Aglaia korthalsii

Aglaia (Aglaia korthalsii (Miq.) Pellegrin) is an arboreal species belonging to the Meliaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Magnoliophyta division,
Class Magnoliopsida,
Subclass Rosidae,
Sapindales Order,
Meliaceae family,
Genus Aglaia,
Species A. korthalsii.
The term is basionym:
– Amoora korthalsii Miq..
The terms are synonymous:
– Aglaia aquatica (Pierre) Harms;
– Aglaia cauliflora Koord.;
– Aglaia celebica Koord.;
– Aglaia confertiflora Merr.;
– Aglaia dysoxylifolia Koord.;
– Aglaia dysoxylonoides Koord.;
– Amoora korthalsii Miq.;
– Hearnia aquatica Pierre;
– Hearnia sarawakana C.DC..

Etymology –
The term Aglaia derives from the ancient Greek “aglaia” (ἀγλαΐα), which means “splendor” or “beauty”. This name was chosen for the plant Aglaia korthalsii to describe its supposed beauty or attractive appearance.
The specific epithet “korthalsii” is a tribute to the Dutch botanist Pieter Willem Korthals (September 1, 1807, Amsterdam – March 1892, Haarlem), who was the first to describe the species.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Aglaia korthalsii is a plant native to an area which includes Bhutan, Brunei, Philippines, India (Assam), Indonesia (Kalimantan, Lesser Sunda Islands, Sulawesi and Sumatra), Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak) and Thailand .
Its habitat is that of the primary forests of Dipterocarpaceae up to about 1700 m of altitude, usually alluvial, often along the watercourses but also common on slopes and ridges or on sandy to clayey soils, also close to calcareous soils.

Description –
Aglaia korthalsii is a tree that grows up to 34 m. The trunk can grow up to 16 m, with a diameter of 76 cm; triangular buttresses may be present.
The bark is reddish-brown with various shades or orange-brown, sometimes with more or less coarse longitudinal fissures, flaking off in large irregular roundish scales, exposing the orange or yellowish-green bark underneath; the inner bark is pink, dark greenish pink or purplish pink, fibrous; sapwood is pale pink, pale yellow, yellow, or white; the latex is white.
Twigs have peltate scales numerous to densely covered with glossy reddish-brown scales having a dark centre, becoming paler towards the margin or arching all over, margin irregular or briefly fimbriated, white latex.
The leaves are up to 40 cm long and 48 cm broad, with an oboval outline. Petiole and rachis have numerous scales like those on the twigs. The leaflets (3-)5(-7), 8-27(-36) by (2,5-) 3-8 cm, have acuminate apex, usually rounded but sometimes wedged at the asymmetrical base; these too have scales like those of the twigs; few on the upper page and scattered or numerous on the lower one at fairly regular intervals, sometimes with faint reddish-brown dimples; have 10-25 veins on each side of the central rib; the petioles are generally 5-10(-30) mm.
The inflorescences are placed in the axils of the leaves or on the old wood of the twigs. The male inflorescence is up to 30 cm long and broad, with a 0,5-2 cm peduncle, peduncle, rachis and branches are covered by scales like those on the twigs. The female inflorescence is like the male one but often much smaller, with fewer branches and flowers.
The flowers are about 1.5-2 mm long and 1.6-2.5 mm wide; the pedicel is 0.8-3 mm; the calyx with few or numerous peltate scales like those on the twigs, divided almost to the base into 5 rounded lobes with fimbriated margins. The petals are 5. The stem tube is 0.8 mm long, 1.9 mm broad, obovoid or cup-shaped with the apical margin curved and 5-lobed shallow; the anthers are 5, 0.4 mm long, ovoid, inserted inside the edge of the tube, protruding and facing the center of the flower. The infructescence is up to 17 cm long and 14 cm broad and bears up to 15 fruits; the peduncle is 1-2 cm; the peduncle, the rachis and the branches with numerous scales like those on the twigs.
The fruits are 2-4 cm long, 1-3,5(-5) cm broad, of ellipsoid or subglobose shape, of orange colour, thickly covered by brown-orange peltate scales which have, on the outside, a fimbriate margin and with small longitudinal wrinkles, the pericarp indehiscent with line of dehiscence running longitudinally around the fruit along which the ripe fruit opens under pressure, the pericarp 1-10 mm thick, fibrous and flexible, with some white latex, the inner surface , without hairs or scales, of a glossy orange colour; fruit peduncles 1-2 cm.
Inside we find loculi, 2 (or 3), each containing 1 seed, with a persistent septum, up to 0.5 mm thick, membranous.
The seeds are 1,5-2 cm long, 1-1,5 cm broad, ellipsoid, with flattened internal surface; the aril is about 2 mm thick, translucent yellow or pale orange, juicy or gelatinous, edible, with a sweet or rather bitter taste, firmly attached to the head especially the hilum and the main vascular bundle.

Cultivation –
Aglaia korthalsii is an evergreen tree that is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of wood. It is grown for its fruit in parts of its range.
It is a dioecious plant so, having to obtain the fruits, it is necessary to cultivate the male and female form.
It is cultivated in particular in Kelantan which is one of the states of Malaysia, up to 1700 m of altitude.
It is an almost unknown plant outside the areas of origin, it is often cultivated in the villages for its fruits rich in vitamin C.
This plant reproduces by seed in a draining and aerated loam kept humid at a temperature of 24-26 °C.

Customs and Traditions –
Aglaia korthalsii is a plant known by various names depending on where it grows in its natural state; it is called: korthal gisihan (Philippines); belajang merah, bilajang merah (Indonesia) kiah, piah, keriah, sekeriah, kriah, keriat (Peninsular Malaysia); langsat munchit (Sabah); segera (Sarawak); ke ya (Thailand).
It is a species that is also used for edible purposes.
The fruits are mangled raw; of these we eat the fleshy layer (arill) juicy or gelatinous, with a sweet or rather bitter taste, around the seed.
The plant is also of medicinal interest.
The fruits are rich in vitamin C, furthermore Aglaia is the only source of the group of about 50 known representatives of compounds carrying a unique cyclopenta[b]tetrahydrobenzofuran skeleton. These compounds are more commonly called rocaglate or rocaglamide derivatives, or flavagline, and most have potent insecticidal, antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, or anthelmintic bioactivity. Many of them show pronounced cytotoxic activity against a number of human cancers. As the first representative of this group was only discovered in 1982, this is one of the few recent examples of a completely new class of naturally occurring plant secondary metabolites.
Among other uses it should be noted that the wood is used for the posts of houses: The sapwood is pale pink, pale yellow, yellow or white.
Unfortunately, from an ecological point of view, habitat loss could pose a threat to this species. It is classified as “near threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2011).

Method of Preparation –
Aglaia korthalsii is a plant whose fruits are eaten raw; of these we eat the fleshy layer (arill) juicy or gelatinous.
In recent times, the plant has been finding considerable interest for medicinal use or for the extraction of active substances such as: insecticide, antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial or anthelmintic bioactivity.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Photo source:

Attention: The pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; we therefore decline all responsibility for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *