Anaxagorea javanica Blume (Annonaceae)
by Aliaa Athirah Adam Malek & Ms. Ummul Nazrah Abdul Rahman
Club-shaped fruilets each contain two hard, shiny black seeds.

Anaxagorea javanica belongs to the soursop family, Annonaceae and is commonly known as Twin-seed because it usually has two seeds in each fruitlet. It grows in lowland forest, including limestone areas, and is widespread across South East Asia, from Thailand, Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, Java, Borneo, to the Philippines. This species has not been assessed for the IUCN Red List and is considered as near threatened (NT) since it can be commonly found.

The flower has thick and fleshy, light cream-green tepals. Small beetles act as pollinators because they are attracted by the light colour and sweet odour of the flowers, forcing their way between the closed tepals. The flowers have pre-existing entrances at the base of the inner petals through which the beetles may reach the centre of the flower where the stamens and ovary are located (Silberbauer-Gottsberger, 2005).

Each cluster of 4 to 8 club-shaped fruitlets contain one or two hard, shiny black seeds that are tightly pressed together. The fruitlets turn from green to light brown when mature. This species has a remarkable type of seed dispersal. As the fruitlets dry, they contract under pressure and burst open with a click, flinging the seeds simultaneously for a considerable distance (Corner, 1949).

In Asia, A. javanica is a popular ornamental plant among gardeners as the tree can grow up to 6 m tall, making it a suitable shade plant for parks or small gardens, and the flowers produce a pleasant fragrance. Anaxagorea javanica is considered easy to cultivate as it requires minimum care. It can be grown from seed, and prefers fertile, well-drained soils. It grows in full sun and semi-shade, and needs moderate watering (Boo et al., 2006).

Beetles that pollinate the flowers squeeze their way past the tightly packed tepals.


  1. Boo, C.M., Omar-Hor, K. & Ou-Yang, C.L. (2003). 1001 Garden Plants in Singapore. National Parks Board, Singapore. pp. 501.
  2. Corner, E.J.H. (1949). The Annonaceous Seed and its Four Integuments. New Phytologist 48 (3): pp. 332-364
  3. Silberbauer-Gottsberger, I., Gottsberger, G. & Webber, A.C. (2003). Morphological and functional flower characteristics of New and Old World Annonaceae with respect to their mode of pollination. Taxon 52 (4): pp. 701-718
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