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Annonaceae, Stelechocarpus burahol, Kepel fruit

August 21, 2008

Stelechocarpus burahol is closely related to such species as guanabana (soursop), Biriba (Rollinia deliciosa), Paw-Paw (Asimina triloba) and Ylang Ylang. Burahol (kepel fruit, or keppel apple) is a rare and endangered member of the Anonaceae family, originating in southeast Asia, more specifically Indonesia where, it is said, cultivation is unfortunately becoming less and less common. The tree has been introduced into Honduras and Florida. In Indonesia the fruit is the object of investigation for eventual use as a perfume.

The fruit is born on the trunk of the tree (see photos below). They take a while to ripen. You know it’s ready to harvest when you peel away some skin with your nail and it is orange underneath (rather than green). It seems to do very well in Panama, although I am aware of only a single mature tree. Whenever I have the opportunity, I collect and propagate seed.

The tree grows up to 20 meters tall, with a straight trunk, brilliant foliage, spectacular bright pink leaves that flush out all at once over the entire tree.

Pinkish cream colored flowers bloom in abundance directly out of the truck and develop into fruits the size of a small orange. The fruit has a brown, leathery skin and contains numerous, l0ng, oval seeds in a creamy, light orange flesh.

Kepel fruit is of a very agreeable flavor, aromatic, with undertones of coconut. It is said that the consumption of this fruit will perfume ones excretions (such as urine or sweat) with the smell of violets.

The Kepel tree is considered to be one of the most beautiful of all tropical ornamental/fruit trees.

Kepel fruit grows in a hot, humid climate and can be planted at sea level, up to 300 m. It is propagated from seed, which typically germinate quickly, but can take up to 12 months to develop the seedling shoot. The tree will begin to bear fruit in around eight years and produces year round.

It’s the end of June and I’m about to score a bunch of seed. The last photo (below) was taken a week ago. I am curious if there has been any success grafting this species? Any comments to that effect would be greatly appreciated.

Kepel, immature fruit

Kepel on Foodista

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54 Comments leave one →
  1. Little Pinkie permalink
    August 29, 2008 10:08:26 am

    I am happy to find this article when I incidentally came across to this link. I planted this tree at my backyard, it is about 20 years old now. I planted this tree because I liked the fruits; and also as a remembrance of my great grandmother who grew this tree at her garden in Yogyakarta.

    I agree that this tree is a rare one, as my husband and his family didn’t know this kind of tree at that time. Even now, the children are amused to see the blossoming flowers at its trunks, and later becoming fruits.

    Thanks for posting this article which reminds me of other articles of endangered plants that I haven’t found.

  2. September 12, 2008 10:08:50 pm

    Thank you for the comment. It is interesting for me to hear from someone who is familiar with this species closer to it’s area of origin. What endangered plants are you looking for that you haven’t found?

    • Grace Parella permalink
      September 5, 2009 10:08:12 am

      Hi,
      I am happy to come across this article of yours. Please let me know if you are selling seeds. Look forward to hearing from you soon. Cheers

  3. Matt permalink
    October 21, 2008 10:08:54 am

    Please tell me where I can buy Kapel seeds.

  4. December 27, 2008 10:08:23 am

    I acquired 2 seeds about 1 year ago. I have 2 healthy seedlings which I hope to raise and plant outdoors eventually. Unfortunately the supplier is no longer active, having tried again to obtain seeds this year.

    One of the problems with this species, and why it is not more common, is that is is difficult to start from seeds, and VERY slow growing initially. Even after the seeds germinated, it took 10 months for there to be any growth above the soil level. I had to resist the urge to disturb them at the advice of Bill Whitman’s book, which urged patience with this species. It does not propagate easily by cuttings or air layers, and when it does is also quite slow to do so.

    It is my goal to make this species more available, as I find it not only very attractive tree, but the fruiting habit and the properties of the fruit warrant more attention. There could be natural deodorant or perfume applications, for instance. As one may imagine.

    A very interesting species.

  5. Ivan TORRES HIDALGO permalink
    March 9, 2009 10:08:23 am

    Dear Sir:

    I live in south Florida and wish to grow burahol or kepel.
    Would you sell one or two seedlings? How much?

    Best regards,

    Ivan TORRES HIDALGO
    ivanaziztorres@aol.com

  6. Terri Birts permalink
    April 3, 2009 10:08:37 pm

    Would like to purchase kepel fruit

  7. tanisha permalink
    June 9, 2009 10:08:51 pm

    I just want to know what fruit is similiar to Kepel Fruit-that will do the same thing as make you seem sweet

    • June 11, 2009 10:08:53 pm

      Off the top of my head I can’t think of anything. Although that’s a good question. I’ll look into it and let you know if I find anything promising. The Kepel fruit are nearing ripening stage right now, which is exciting.

  8. Yokahu permalink
    July 13, 2009 10:08:27 am

    how can i buy kepel seeds ?

    Thanks.

    yokahu@yahoo.com

  9. jetjoee permalink
    October 30, 2009 10:08:11 am

    how can i buy kepel seeds ?
    i live in thailand
    Thanks.

  10. rivers permalink
    December 28, 2009 10:08:21 pm

    Hello,
    I live in England, United Kingdom,
    I would like to purchase the keppel friut/leaves seeds to make herbel drinks do you know where i could purshase such.
    many thanks in advance
    Rivers

    • January 4, 2010 10:08:11 pm

      I would suggest looking toward vendors in southeast asia, Keppel’s native region. I don’t know of very many trees in Central America, and none that are grown for commercial production. I have quite a few trees, but they aren’t yet bearing fruit.

  11. January 24, 2010 10:08:28 pm

    I live in Puerto Vallarta , Mexico and have several seedlings going well , all still in nurserybags , when would be the best time to plant them in the ground , I mean size of plant . I am planning to plant them the next rainy season 2010 but I am afraid the roots may become root bound.

    The page above is not finished and up to date ( 24-1-2010 ) , will be in another 2 -3 weeks.

    Luc

    • January 24, 2010 10:08:52 pm

      How tall are the seedlings? How large are the nursery bags? It would be ideal to plant them at the start of the rainy season. If you have a budget for high quality nursery bags check out rootmaker products on-line. They make all sizes of nursery bags that enable you to grow in containers while avoiding rootbinding. Another option would be transplanting your seedlings into larger containers (five gallon or so) so they can grow uninhibited until rainy season.

      • January 25, 2010 10:08:03 am

        Seedlings are about 20 cm now , in I guess one gallon bags , no access to fancy rootmaker products , this is Mexico , will have to go for bigger bags..thanks.

  12. MARIANO DE LEONMONTERO. permalink
    February 20, 2010 10:08:09 pm

    DESEO COMPRAR ALGUNAS SEMILLAS DE BURAHOL, FAVOR INFORMARME QUIEN PUEDE VENDERLAS Y SU PRECIO. leonmontero2@hotmail.com

    • February 20, 2010 10:08:17 pm

      Donde vives Mariano , tengo unas 20 plantas aqui en Mexico.

    • February 21, 2010 10:08:08 am

      Mariano,

      Solo tengo un fuente de semillas, un solo arbol, pero grande y muy productiva. Burahol es muy poco conocido en Panama. Produce bastante fruita (semillas) pero solamente una vez al ano. Te podria conseguir semillas pero habra que esperar hasta la proxima epoca de cosecha. Aparte de esto tengo bastante pequenos arboles. Pero como los tengo en Panama sera dificil mandarlos a otro pais, como son mas dificiles mandar que semillas. Si vives en Panama no hay problema. Advisame. – Spencer

  13. ramya permalink
    October 25, 2010 10:08:55 pm

    hello I’m interested in your article,
    I will doing research in Kepel Fruit for my final project on my bachelor degree
    If you have any article about this fruit,,I would be glad if you can tell me.
    I lived in West Java Indonesia, and I want to expand this fruit to become a anti perspirant
    I hope I can finish my research well,,

  14. Dan S permalink
    December 13, 2010 10:08:53 pm

    In older times Kepel was “reserved” for royalty. For instance I think the Sultan of either Solo or Yogjakarta did not allow random people to have this fruit (probably couldn’t stop someone from picking a wild one… but public consumption would have been barred).

    It’s interesting you mention the legend about it perfuming one’s secretions. I had a feeling this was a myth and after I did get a chance to try some (which I did in Costa Rica, not in Indonesia) I checked and could discern no change in any of them.

    I hear the fruit has a lot of variability. The ones I tried were like an inferior watered down mango. Some I’ve heard are like a good mango with cinnamon overtones.

    The person who was trying to find other fruits now less common in Indonesia could be referring to any number of fruits. The Indonesian archipelago is possibly the center of genetic diversity for several genera of fruits: durio, artocarpus, garcinia, nephellium, syzygizium….
    The Indonesians love durian but on Java most people are unaware that there are a number of other edible relatives (7-9 other species each with their own flavor…), whereas maybe one or two hundred years ago Javanese would probably be well aware of these fruits. Likewise, now for garcinia you mainy find mangosteen (and nothing else). For artocarpus in Java terap/marang is extremely uncommon (only on Borneo, maybe Sumtra)… you pretty much just find jackfruit/chempedak. On nephellium you pretty much just find rambutan… On Borneo you might find more of the diversity in the forest and local markets- but in Java the monocrops have rolled in and covered up the glorious quilt of species that was.

    • marc permalink
      June 29, 2011 10:08:25 pm

      Hi Dan
      i justgot into this thread after planting 2 Keppel’s that I bought in a jakarta nursery. The seller said it was a rare tree, yet beautiful, so I got interested. I am beginning to get interested in other rare trees/fruits that are available in indo, and was pleasantly surprised by your knowledge. For example I learned there are also white skinned and yellow skinned mangosteens available if you look for them. Pls let me know if you need any rare seeds sent from here, I’d be interested to dig deeper and arrange to help out.

      marc
      mrj924@gmail.com

      • Kon permalink
        October 3, 2011 10:08:34 am

        Hi Marc
        I am interesting to get kepel seed. Could you help me please?
        I don’t know where to find them
        thank you
        kon

  15. Bonakyon permalink
    December 20, 2010 10:08:42 am

    I am wondering if anyone can verify this alleged effect of violet smelling sweat and urine. Almost everything I can read about this fruit makes the same claims but I have yet to read of anyone actually verifying this claim. Is there anyone who has actually witnessed first hand the change is scent emanating from someone or something…?

  16. Luc Vleeracker permalink
    December 20, 2010 10:08:20 pm

    I did !
    Had about 20 fruits one after another ….it is a myth .
    Still , it is one of the most desired trees ( fruits ) to have in a ” rare fruit collection ”
    They take a long time to start from seed and are slow growing but once they are about 30 cm they go a lot faster.

    Luc , Puerto Vallarta , Mexico

    • Anonymous permalink
      December 20, 2010 10:08:03 pm

      Finally someone with some personal experience on this… Thanks man.
      I have a seedling my self. I am not sure what kinda soil is best. I have at least 3 different types on my little parcel. What can anyone tell me about what type of soil best suits the famed ¨Kepel¨ for good growth and development.

      • Luc Vleeracker permalink
        December 20, 2010 10:08:16 pm

        I have them in a mixure of clay , sand and soil I collected from the jungle , rotten leaves etc , but it looks like they are not exigent about the soil.
        They do like some shade when young.

      • December 20, 2010 10:08:36 pm

        Plant them when they’re fresh. Place seed on its side in light, fertile soil, high in organic matter. Plant about 3/4 inch deep Keep moist, in the shade. They can take a while to germinate.

  17. Luc Vleeracker permalink
    December 20, 2010 10:08:23 pm

    I have quite a few seedling availlable but cannot ship.

    Luc

  18. Jumba permalink
    December 30, 2010 10:08:15 am

    Hi, I currently live in Minnesota and i would like to acquire Kepel seeds to plant in Uganda. Where can i find some for sale?

  19. Leo permalink
    January 29, 2011 10:08:11 am

    Hi. This thread got me interested. Kindly lead me where can i buy kepel seeds/seedling to plant in southern california, zone 9? Thanks in anticipation.

    • January 30, 2011 10:08:46 am

      You might want to try California Rare Fruit Growers http://www.crfg.org/. However, as far as I know Kepel fruit is strictly tropical, but I wouldn’t let that keep you from trying it out.

      • Leo permalink
        January 30, 2011 10:08:41 pm

        Hi. Thanks for your reply and recommendation. I have 3 ft langsat duku growing, so, I am challenged to try this very tropical fruit. And you are very right.

        Thanks and best regards.

  20. Anonymous permalink
    March 23, 2011 10:08:32 pm

    http://www.fruitlovers.com/seedlistUSA.html has seeds November through January. Anyone know its cold damage and kill temps?

    • Luc Vleeracker permalink
      July 12, 2011 10:08:13 am

      I believe Oscar ( fruitlovers.com ) has seeds now.
      My seedlings all survived this winter 2011. Nights were 6 Celsius. All sending out new leaves now.

      Luc in Mexico

      • Kon permalink
        October 2, 2011 10:08:35 pm

        HI. Luc
        Can I contect you about Kepel seed ?

  21. John West permalink
    July 12, 2011 10:08:42 am

    Hi
    I have a small property in Carnarvon and I would be very interested in obtaining a keppel tree or the seeds so I may grow one.
    Thank you for the article.

    John

    • Luc Vleeracker permalink
      July 12, 2011 10:08:17 am

      Carnarvon in the UK or Australia ?

  22. John permalink
    August 17, 2011 10:08:07 am

    Any chance of obtaining seed.I work on an experimental farm in South Africa.We would love to try growing a few specimens.

    • August 18, 2011 10:08:51 am

      I don’t have access to seed at the moment. However, although I’ve never been to S. Africa, I’m not sure if Kepel fruit would survive being a strictly tropical species. It’s always worth experimenting though.

  23. Anonymous permalink
    October 3, 2011 10:08:18 am

    To Kon , sure , send me a private email
    lucvleeracker@yahoo.com

  24. Leo permalink
    October 3, 2011 10:08:40 am

    Hi Luc,
    May I privately contact you too with regards to keppel? Thanks in anticipation.
    Best regards.

  25. Anonymous permalink
    October 3, 2011 10:08:19 pm

    Hi Leo , are you the Pitahaya and rare fruit Leo ? You have my email , right ?

    • Leo permalink
      October 5, 2011 10:08:51 pm

      Hi Luc,
      It’s a different Leo, however, I may know who you are talking about. Yes, I see your email above. Thanks.

  26. November 18, 2011 10:08:29 pm

    Hello,

    I have fresh seeds of Stelechocarpus cauliflorus from Indonesia.

    • Anonymous permalink
      November 21, 2011 10:08:08 pm

      Hi,Renate Krebs
      Can I contect you about the Stelechocarpus cauliflorus ?
      thank you
      Kon

  27. November 28, 2012 10:08:36 am

    I used to eat kepel fruit when I was very young . The taste and smell was so good. And there were many in the fruit market in yogyakarta. But we can’t find them now in the market.

  28. Lazarus Agus Sukamto permalink
    November 30, 2012 10:08:39 am

    I understand that you like this plant. I am collecting many wonderful/ exotic plants, one of them is kepel. I have a big kepel tree about 30 year old, 15 m tall, now it produce fruits and about two weeks from now, will ripe. It taste sweetly and fragrantly smell. I also have nice pictures when the tree covered entirely by red/ pink color of young leaves. I could sell leaf, fruit, seed or seedling. I have propagated it by seed or grafting and sell them, the price depend on plant size and how to propagate it, from 20 cm – 200 cm. The grafting one will fruit early (about one-half compared to from seed). I usually sell in my garden in West Java, Indonesia. I have another exotic plants, such as: black sapota, Achras sapota, abiu, miracle fruit, mangoesteen, Durio spp, Annona spp, etc., If you interested to buy and want to receive in your country, I will figure out the price including the shipping and handling them to your place.

    My regards,
    Lazarus Agus Sukamto
    Email: lazarus.agus@gmail.com

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  30. March 27, 2014 10:08:27 pm

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