Nephelium lappaceum - L.
Common Name Rambutan, Hairy Lychee
Family Sapindaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The fruit wall contains a toxic saponin; cases of poisoning are known[303 ].
Habitats Found in the lower or middle storey in different types of primary and secondary forest ranging from dryland to swamp[303 ]. Lowland humid forests[307 ].
Range E. Asia - China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Translate this page:

You can translate the content of this page by selecting a language in the select box.

Rambutan, Nephelium lappaceum, is medium-sized tree growing only about 9 - 15 m in height with a straight bole that is usually around 40 - 60 cm in diameter. It is evergreen and has an open, spreading crown. One of the most popular fruit tree worldwide, Rambutan is named as such for the hairy protuberances of the fruit - ?Rambut? means ?hair? in the Malay-Indonesian language. The leaves are alternate, pinnate, and comprised of 3 to 11 leaflets per leaf. The flowers are small. Rambutan fruit is non-climacteric, meaning it does not produce a ripening agent after being harvested. It has a limited shelf life and bruised easily. It is round to oval, single-seeded, with reddish leathery skin covered with pliable spines. The sed is glossy brown and soft. The fruit is eaten raw or cooked, and the seed is roasted and eaten. Rambutan is used medicinally in the treatment of fevers, diarrhea, and headaches among other various diseases. The wood is moderately hard to heavy, tough, and easy to work but usually too small to be valued as timber. Propagation method is through grafting, air-layering, and budding.

Nephelium lappaceum Rambutan, Hairy Lychee
Nephelium lappaceum Rambutan, Hairy Lychee
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of cone
Nephelium lappaceum is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender. and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Nephelium glabrum Cambess. Nephelium obovatum Ridely. Nephelium sufferugineum Radlk.

Edible Uses
Fruit - raw or cooked[46 ]. The sweet, juicy, light-coloured flesh is delicious eaten raw[296 , 301 ]. It can also be stewed, canned in syrup, used in jams, jellies etc[301 ]. The bright red, ovoid fruit is 5 - 6cm long and is produced in clusters of 10 - 12 fruits[335 ]. Seed - occasionally roasted and eaten[46 , 301 , 303 ]. A bitter flavour, it is said to have narcotic properties[303 ]. An oil or tallow similar to cacao butter, with a high level of arachidic acid, can be rendered from the seeds[301 , 303 ]
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The green fruit is said to be astringent, stomachic, and anthelmintic[303 , 404 ]. It is used in the treatment of various diseases, especially fevers and diarrhoea[404 ]. The leaves are used in poultices for headaches. The shell of the fruit contains tannins and is used as an astringent[307 ]. In Java, the toxic saponin found in the fruit wall is dried and used as medicine[303 ]. In Malaysia, the roots are used in a decoction for treating fever[303 ]. The bark is used as an astringent for tongue diseases[303 ].


Other Uses
Small shade tree. Humid shade garden. Backyard tree. Large planter. Conservatory. Agroforestry Uses: Legumes with low growth habits, such as Canavalia, Crotalaria and Vigna, can be beneficially intercropped with rambutan[404 ]. Other Uses The young shoots are used to produce a green colour on silk that is first dyed yellow with turmeric[303 ]. The fruit walls are used, together with tannin-rich parts of other plants, to dye silk black after a preliminary red staining[303 ]. 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[307 ]. The seeds contain an oil that has been used for illumination and a fat that has been used to make soap[303 ]. 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[303 ]. 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.
Cultivation details
Rambutan grows best in the lowland humid tropics at an elevation below 600 metres, though it can also be grown non-commercially up to 1,950 metres[303 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 21 - 35?c, but can tolerate 10 - 42?c[418 ]. When dormant, a mature plant mat survive temperatures down to about -1?c, but young growth does not tolerate any frost and will be severely damaged at 4?c[418 ]. Temperatures down to about 5 - 6?c will cause defoliation[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 1,400 - 4,000mm[418 ]. It prefers climates with all-year rain, but can tolerate up to 2 - 3 dry months[418 ]. Prefers a sunny position, though young trees appreciate the shelter and dappled shade of trees growing overhead[307 , 418 ]. Prefers a clay loam soil, though it can be grown in a wide range of soil types, even ones with poor drainage, so long as they are not water-logged[303 ]. Requires a moist fertile acid soil rich in organic matter[296 , 307 ]. Requires shelter from drying winds[303 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[303 , 418 ]. Seedling trees take 6 - 8 years to produce their first crop, whilst grafted trees can fruit in their second year[296 ]. Fruit yields increase for the next 8 - 10 years; the tree has an economic life of about 15 - 20 or even 30 years, whilst it might live for up to 60 years[418 ]. Trees usually fruit twice a year, yielding 1,000 - 1,500 fruits per tree per year at age 5 - 7 years and 5,000 - 6,000 fruits per tree for older trees[418 ]. Very good trees may yield up to 170 kilos per tree and yields per hectare may be from 2 - 20 tonnes[418 ]. There are many named varieties[301 ]. Trees are usually dioecious[307 ], but most commercial cultivars behave hermaphroditically and are self-fertile[303 ]. Spacing: 30-40 ft. (9-12 m).
Seed - it has a very short viability and so need to be sown as soon as it is extracted from the fruit[303 ]. Wash the seed first to remove traces of the fruit[303 ]. When ripe, the seed germinates very quickly and grows rapidly[296 ]. Seedlings quickly produce a large root system and so need to be planted out into their permanent positions when still young[296 ]. The seed has a very short viability and needs to be sown as soon as possible after the fruit is harvested[296 ]. Layering. Grafting.
Other Names
Rambutan, Hairy Lychee, Amaw, Chom chom, Gente, Gerat, Hairy litchi, Hong mao dan, Kakapas, Legos, Nefelio, Nerat, Ngoh, Ngork, Phruan, Ramboostan, Rambotan, Ramboutanier, Rambutan usan, Rambutao, Ramtum, Ranbuutan, Saaw maaw, Saw maw, Ser mon, Tangoi, Tangui, Usau, Vai thieu, rambutan|rambutan.
Found In
Indonesia; Malaysia; Singapore; Thailand; Viet Nam, Africa, Asia, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central Africa, Central America, China, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, East Africa, East Timor, Fiji, Ghana, Guiana, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia, Myamar, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, SE Asia, Solomon Islands, South America, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, USA, Vietnam, West Africa,
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Lower Risk/least concern
Related Plants


Print Friendly and PDF
Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.
Readers comment
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.
Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Nephelium lappaceum  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design

Twiter      Facebook


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email ePost. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.