Sandoricum koetjape (Burm.f.) Merr. (Meliaceae)
by Mrs. Norzielawati Bt. Salleh
Flowers (Copyright © Norzielawati Salleh)

Sandoricum koetjape, locally known as sentul, is a common species recorded throughout Peninsular Malaysia. Sandoricum in Latin, is taken from sandori, the Moluccan name for this species while koetjape is taken from the Javanese name for this species, ketjapi (Nparks Flora Fauna website, 2019). Sandoricum koetjape is distributed from Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra to Papua New Guinea (Madang). It is found in different types of lowland forests at altitudes of up to 1200 m. This species is considered as Least Concern (LC) in Peninsular Malaysia (Mabberley & Pannell, 2013).

Sandoricum koetjape produces edible fruits which are popular among local villagers. The ripe fruits are eaten raw with sugar, salt and soy sauce, or pickled with spices added. Its timber is used for making barrels, boats, carts and butchers' blocks. Besides that, the bark is used to tan fishing nets (Mabberley & Pannell, 2013). It is a fast-growing tree and is suitable as a shade or street tree (National Parks, 2009). Several places in Peninsular Malaysia are named 'Sentul'. One of these is Sentul town in Kuala Lumpur. Other than that, there are the villages of Gong Sentul and Sentul Patah in Terengganu and also Setol village in Seberang Prai (Abd. Latif et al., 2016).

The tree with pale pinkish brown bark can reach up to 45 m tall. The leaves are compound, arranged spirally, and trifoliolate. The leaflets are glabrous or with a few brown hairs on the midrib above while the underside of the leaflets is subglabrous to densely brown pubescent. The leaf is ovate, with an acute base and round to acuminate apex. This species has yellow-green, fragrant flowers. The fruits are depressed globose, velvety and yellowish to light golden brown when ripe. The portion which is edible is the mesocarp which is white, translucent, very sour to juicy and sweet. The seeds are brown and inedible.

There are two species of Sandoricum in Peninsular Malaysia, S. koetjape and S. beccarianum. The difference between these two species is based on the shapes of their leaf, leaf apex and fruit. Sandoricum beccarianum has a more obovate (to elliptic) leaf, with a rounded or emarginated apex and subglobose fruit, approximately 2.5 cm in diameter (Mabberley & Pannell, 2013).

Fruits (Copyright © Yasser Arifin)


  1. Abd. Latif, M., Ahmad Zuhaidi, Y., Zawiah, N., Nik Zanariah, N.M. & Othaman, H. (2016). Sinonim nama tempat dengan nama tumbuhan. Institut Penyelidikan Perhutanan Malaysia (FRIM), Malaysia. pp. 280-281.
  2. Mabberley, D.J. & Pannell, C.M. (2013). Meliaceae. In Kiew, R., Chung, R.C.K., Saw, L.G. & Soepadmo, E. (eds.) Flora of Peninsular Malaysia, Series II: Seed Plants, volume 4. Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM). pp. 97-99.
  3. Nparks Flora Fauna website. Sandoricum koetjape. National Parks Board. Retrieved April 30, 2019, from
  4. Tee, S.P. & Wee, M.L. (2009). Trees of Our Garden City: A Guide to the Common Trees of Singapore. NParks' Publication, Singapore. pp. 111.
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