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Oriental cheesewood (Nauclea orientalis)

Gempol or bangkal or canary cheesewood or oriental cheesewood (Nauclea orientalis) is a species of plant in the Rubiaceae, a low to tall tree, straight trunk, cylindrical, shedding leaves during the dry season, fragrant flowers and fruit, used for wood carving and traditional medicine.

N. orientalis has a straight trunk up to 30 meters high, the bark may be smooth or cracked and grayish in color, many branches in all directions, the wood is soft and yellowish to orange in color.

Dlium Oriental cheesewood (Nauclea orientalis)


Leaves have stalks and sit opposite. The strands are broad ovate, up to 30 cm long, the upper side is green or orange, the lower side has prominent venation. Interpetiolar stipules. On the inner surface has a number of small red glands.

The inflorescences are fragrant, spherical and yellowish to orange in color with white stamens. Individual flowers are 8-10 mm long and 3-5 mm in diameter. Perianth consists of 5 petals and sepals in separate circles. The inner surface of the crown is yellow to orange in color and has a sweet smell.

Flowers are bisexual, 5 short and separate stamens attached to the perianth. The petals fuse together to form a round flower head. Epigynous with an inferior ovary located below the attachment of the rest of the flower.

The flower head develops into a compound fruit with a syncarp that joins the petals and each flower becomes a small fruit containing 1 seed. 4-5 cm in diameter, rugose, brown, very aromatic and unbreakable. Seeds ovoid to ellipsoidal and 1-10 mm long.



Gempol grows near water, alluvial soil, secondary forest and 0-500 m elevation. The fruit is very bitter but edible, a food source for flying foxes, cassowaries and proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus).

Wood is easy to cut but does not withstand weathering, yellowish to orange in color, used for framing, interior floorboards, wood carving, paper production, house construction and for making canoes. The bark is used to make fish poison, a source of yellow dye and treat wounds.

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Subphylum: Angiospermae
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Subfamily: Cinchonoideae
Tribe: Naucleeae
Genus: Nauclea
Species: Nauclea orientalis

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