Thursday, 17 March 2011

Gnetum gnemon - Melinjau

Gnetum gnemon is a small-to-medium tree, of Gnetaceae family, capable to grow up to 15m in height.  It is native to humid tropical forest of S.E.Asia and Pacific Ocean islands. 

In Malaysia, Gnetum gnemon is known as melinjau ( Malay ), and sabuok ( Iban ).

Melinjau is  dioecius, having male and female reproductive organs on separate plants, yet not completely so.  As a member of the gymnosperms, melinjau does not have flowers.  Instead, melinjau has strobili, which are an aggregation of sporangia-bearing structures.

Melinjau’s leaves are dark green, shiny, smooth, acute at both ends, opposite.  Leaf shape vary is shape, from elliptic, lanceolate to ovate oblong.  Leaf is 10-20cm long, and 4-7cm wide.

Fruits are yellow, turning purple-red or orange-red with maturity.   1-3.5cm in length.  A single large avoid or ellipsoid seed per fruit.

Melinjau prefers generally slightly acid to neutral soils ( pH 6.1 – 7.4 ) .   It tolerates infertile and shallow soils.  It can grow on soils high in clay or sand.   It requires freely drained soils,  tolerate several months of drought.  Grows in full sun, yet very tolerant of shade .

Melinjau seeds are eaten raw, boiled, fired, or roasted.  In Java, blinjo chips made from melinjau seeds.   In Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, the leaves and young inflorescence are eaten as greens.