Rambutan, also spelled Rambotan, Ramboetan, Ramboutan, or Rambustan, (Nephelium lappaceum), tree of the soapberry family (Sapindaceae). It is native to Malaysia, where it is commonly cultivated for its tasty fruit, also called rambutan. The bright-red, oval fruit, about the size of a small hen’s egg, is covered with long, soft spines and has a tasty acid pulp.
Rambutan is occasionally only shrub-like, but is usually an evergreen tree with an open, spreading crown; it usually grows from 9 - 15 metres tall in the wild, though exceptionally can reach up to 44 metres, whilst cultivated forms are more commonly 4 -7 metres. The straight bole is usually around 40 - 60cm in diameter, exceptionally to 125cm with buttresses up to 400c.
This is one of the most popular fruits of the tropics, the plant is widely cultivated in suitable climates around the world, both commercially and in gardens, for its edible fruit and also as an ornamental. The plant also has a range of local medicinal uses and supplies dyes, oil and a useful timber.
The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)
Fruit - raw or cooked.
The sweet, juicy, light-coloured flesh is delicious eaten raw.
The edible portion is the layer of white, melting, subacid pulp that surrounds the rather large seed.
Sour forms are often cooked - they can be stewed, canned in syrup, used in jams, jellies etc
The bright red, ovoid fruit is 5 - 6cm long and is produced in clusters of 10 - 12 fruits.
Seed - occasionally roasted and eaten[46
A bitter flavour, it is also said to have narcotic properties.
An oil or tallow similar to cacao butter, with a high level of arachidic acid, can be rendered from the seeds.
The green fruit is said to be astringent, stomachic, and anthelmintic.
It is used in the treatment of various diseases, especially fevers and diarrhoea.
The leaves are used in poultices for headaches.
The shell of the fruit contains tannins and is used as an astringent.
In Java, the toxic saponin found in the fruit wall is dried and used as medicine.
In Malaysia, the roots are used in a decoction for treating fever.
The bark is used as an astringent for tongue diseases.
Legumes with low growth habits, such as Canavalia, Crotalaria and Vigna, can be beneficially intercropped with rambutan.
The young shoots are used to produce a green colour on silk that is first dyed yellow with turmeric.
The fruit walls are used, together with tannin-rich parts of other plants, to dye silk black after a preliminary red staining.
The leaves are used, together with mud, as an impermanent black dye.
A red dye used in batik can be obtained from the leaves and fruit.
The seeds contain an oil that has been used for illumination and a fat that has been used to make soap.
The seed kernel can be used for the production of rambutan tallow, a solid fat similar to cacao butter, which is used for soap and candles.
The reddish coloured wood is liable to splitting during seasoning. It is moderately hard to very hard, strong and tough. It is easy to work and can be finished well. It is durable under cover and generally resistant to insect attacks, but susceptible to fungal attacks. Usually too small to be valued as timber.