(Dracontomelon dao)


A portion of dao tree


Family: Anacardiaceae

Other names: New Guinea walnut, Pacific walnut, paldao, sang kuan

Dao is a tropical fruit from South East Asia.  It is naturally found in the  riverine and limestone forests of Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Thailand.

            Dao fruits are edible but do not have a very good taste.  So these are eaten mostly by children.

            Dao seeds have a very interesting pattern on their surface.  It has five rhombic protrusions which look like five images of Budha.  So it is revered and also called “Five Budhas” in the North East of Thailand and Laos.

 Dao seeds with a mystic five Budhas pattern on them



A large tree up to 55 m tall, bole branchless for up to 25 m, bark surface irregularly scaly, greyish-brown with brown or greenish patches, inner bark pink or red.

 Leaves of a dao tree

            Leaves arranged spirally, crowded towards the ends of twigs, large, imparipinnate; leaf rachis 6-44 cm long, leaflets 7-19, alternate to opposite, 4.5-27 cm x 2-10.5 cm, glabrous or sometimes pubescent below, with hairy domatia.

 Dao flowers

Inflorescence axillary or terminal, paniculate; bracts and bracteoles caducous; flowers bisexual, actinomorphic, 5-merous, slightly fragrant, white to greenish-white, 7-10 mm long, in panicles of up to 50 cm long; petals valvate but imbricate at the apical part, puberulous outside or on both surfaces, or glabrous; stamens 10, in 2 whorls, those opposite the calyx lobes longer than those alternating with them, filaments glabrous, anthers dorsified, disk intrastaminal, puberulous but glabrescent, or glabrous; pistil composed of 5 carpels which are free but connate at base and apically, ovary superior, 5-celled with a single ovule in each cell, styles 5, stigma capitate with the stigmatic tissue lateral.

Fruit a drupe, globose, 5-celled, or seemingly 1-celled by abortion, each cell with a distinct operculum, endocarp woody and hard.

 Fruits of dao

Seed pendulous from an apical, axial placenta.


The fruit is edible but considered inferior and mostly eaten by children. Kernel of the seed is also edible.

            Flowers and leaves are cooked and eaten as a vegetable in Papua New Guinea, and used as food flavouring in the Moluccas

Bark is used against dysentery, leaves and flowers are also employed in traditional medicine.


Dao trees are planted but not for its fruits.  These are planted as ornamental trees alogth roadsides and the fruit is a byprioduct.

New plans can easily be raised from seed.


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