Characteristics of Kepel Tree (Stelechocarpus burahol) in the Wild

Stelechocarpus burahol
Kepel or Burahol (Stelechocarpus burahol) is a fruiting plant that is found mostly growing in the forests of Southeast Asia, especially in Java, Indonesia.

Kepel fruit is favored by court ladies in Java because it is believed to cause perspiration to be fragrant and make urine not smell sharp. However, the more detailed use of the Kepel fruit is traditionally kept secret in the Sultanate of Yogyakarta.

Kepel is a beautiful ornamental tree, its leaves grow compactly from pale pink to purplish-red before turning green. The tree’s stature is cylindrical or pyramid-shaped with many lateral branches systematically arranged, and its cauliflower nature adds to the beauty of the tree’s shape.


Characteristics of Kepel Leaf

Stelechocarpus burahol Leaf
Source : Cumming

Kepel leaves are oval to egg-shaped, measuring 12-25 cm long and 5-9 cm wide, dark green, hairless, thin, and the stem length is 1.5 cm.


Characteristics of Kepel Flower

Stelechocarpus burahol Flower
Source : UNIQUE

A single unisexual Kepel flowers, first green and then turn to whitish, appear on the bulges on the stem. The male flowers are located on the upper trunk and in the older branches, gathering as many as 8-16 buds, reaching 1 cm in diameter, female flowers only at the base of the stem, larger diameter of 3 cm.


Characteristics of Kepel Fruit

Stelechocarpus burahol Fruit
Source : UNIQUE

Brownish Kepel fruit, 5-6 cm in diameter, and can be eaten directly. The seeds numbering 4-6 grains, about 3 cm long.

To find out the ripe Kepel, simply by scraping the skin of the fruit, if you see the flesh of the fruit is yellow or light brown it means it’s ripe, but if it’s green, it’s still not ripe.

For the sake of maintaining quality, farmers usually wrap the fruit Kepel 1-2 months before harvesting, using woven bamboo, coconut leaves, or plastic bags.


Characteristics of Kepel Tree

Stelechocarpus burahol Tree
Source :

Kepel tree is erect in shape, does not shed leaves, its maximum height reaches 25 meters. The dome-shaped canopy is tapered upward with horizontal branching. The main stem diameter reaches 40 cm, brown to gray-brown, which is typically covered by many large lumps.

Kepel trees grow wild on moist and deep soils in secondary forests in Java. Often cultivated as a tree producing fruit in an area with a height of 600 m above sea level. Besides in Indonesia, Kepel trees have also been cultivated in Queensland, the State of Australia.

Kepel trees can grow well between bamboo clumps, which are generally in other places where trees are unable to grow or compete with bamboo groups.


Ripe Kepel fruit can be eaten directly in a fresh state. The flesh of the fruit which is yellow and contains juice gives the aroma like a rose mixed with sapodilla on the body’s excretion.

In medicine, Kepel pulp functions as a urine laxative, prevent inflammation of the kidneys and can be used for temporary infertility (natural birth control) in women. So, this Kepel fruit has been used by aristocratic women as perfume and family planning tools in Java.

Kepel tree trunks is suitable for household utensils, for example for machete handles or hoes.

It is said that Kepel tree trunks that soaked several months in water, can last more than 50 years.


Kepel trees are usually propagated by seedlings taken from ripe fruit, and sown as soon as possible.

1.) Kepel seeds or seeds that are to be sown must be cleaned from fruit flesh by being washed and dried in the shade. Furthermore, the seeds are scarified, but the germination takes several months.

2.) Initially, seedlings that grow slowly, but after growing 3-5 leaves, it can be moved into a pot or polybag.

3.) When the seedling height reaches 60-80 cm, the seedlings can be moved to the field with a spacing of 6-8 meters per tree. Kepel tree seedlings grow to produce fruit for 6-9 years.

Some farmers have been trying to graf the Kepel tree on Java but without success.


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