Gamboge fruits.



Gamboge, also called Yellow Mangosteen

Garcinia xanthochymus


This plant is native to tropical Asia from India to Malaysia.


It is an understory tropical plant adapted to moist, shady conditions. In South East Asia it can be found at altitudes up to 1400m.

Plant Description:

It is an evergreen tree, 5-12m tall which produces a white latex when bruised or cut. Leaves are pinkish-pale green when young, changing with maturity to a glossy dense green on the upper surface and lighter on the underside, forming a dense crown.


Clusiaceae Family. It is one of more than 100 species in the genus which produce edible fruit. Relatives include the mangosteen, madrono, imbe, bacuri and bacuripari. Older literature placed some of these in the genus Rheedia, but all these are now best regarded as members of Garcinia. Taxonomic classifications in the genus have proved troublesome.


Grows best in well-drained soils rich in humus and organic matter.


By seeds, which germinate readily. This species is sometimes used as a rootstock for mangosteen.


Little development work has been done on improving this species apart from occasional chance selections. There are no recognised cultivars, but some preferred varieties are grafted.

Flowering and Pollination:

The small, white, separate male and hermaphrodite flowers (andromonoecious) form in spring and are arranged in axillary fascicles of 4-12. Little is known regarding pollination. Presumably insects are involved, but a single tree is sufficient to produce fruit.


It is grown mainly in domestic gardens rather than commercial scale monoculture.

Wind Tolerance:

Not known.


Not known.

The Fruit:

Fruits are ovoid berries, up to 8cm in diameter and often asymmetric. They are green when immature and turn to a yellow-orange colour when ripe. The deep yellow slightly sweet acid pulp is enclosed in a thin skin, and there may be 1-4 brown seeds, 2cm long.

Fruit Production and Harvesting:

Harvest is in summer

Fruit Uses:

They are consumed in the fresh state and also made into sherbets and jams or preserved.

Pests and Diseases:

Not known.


Surprisingly, given the dearth of horticultural work on this species, there have been several published scientific reports documenting medicinal properties of the fruit, stem, bark and leaves, namely antioxidant, cytotoxic, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities.

'Gamboge' is a term that refers to the sticky, bitter, yellow latex associated with various Garcinias. A historical use for this latex was to make a yellow dye.

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