Bignay (Antidesma buniuse).
Bignay - Antidesma bunius
Antidesma bunius is a species of fruit tree in the Phyllanthaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia and northern Australia. Its common Philippine name and other names include bignay, bugnay or bignai, buni, Chinese-laurel, Herbert River-cherry, Queensland-cherry, salamander-tree, wild cherry, and currant tree. This is a variable plant which may be short and shrubby
(3-8 m) or tall and erect, approaching 30 metres in height. It has large oval shaped leathery evergreen leaves up to about 20 cm long and seven wide. They are attached to the twigs of the tree with short petioles, creating a dense canopy.
The species is dioecious, with male and female flowers growing on separate trees,
but iisolated female trees can still fruit abundantly. The tiny, petal-less flowers have a strong, somewhat unpleasant scent. The staminate flowers are arranged in small bunches and the pistillate flowers grow on long racemes
7.5-20 cm which will become the long strands of fruit.
The fruits are spherical and just under a centimetre wide, hanging singly or paired in long, heavy bunches. They are white when immature and gradually turn red, then black.
This tree fruits from July through September.
Each bunch of fruits ripens unevenly, so the fruits in a bunch are all different colors turning greenish white to deep purplish
red, creating a colourful display throughout the season. The skin of the fruit
is thin and tough but yields an abundance of bright-red juice, while the white pulp has colorless juice. The fruit contains a light-colored seed. The fruit has a sour taste similar to that of the cranberry when immature, and a tart but sweet taste when ripe.
This tree is cultivated across its native range and the fruits are edible.
It is often grown as a backyard fruit tree in Java.
Fruits may be eaten raw or used in jams, jellies, syrups and wine. In
Malaya, the fruits are eaten mostly by children. Indonesians cook the fruits with
fish. Elsewhere the fruits (unripe and ripe together) are made into jam and jelly though the juice is difficult to jell and pectin must be
added. Some cooks add lemon juice as well. If the extracted bignay juice is kept under refrigeration for a day or
so, there will be a settling of somewhat astringent sediment which can be
discarded, thus improving the flavor. For several years, the richly-colored jelly was produced on a small commercial scale in southern
Florida. The juice makes an excellent sirup and has been successfully fermented into wine and
brandy. Bignay fruit sauce is sour and delicious when served with fish.
Young leaves are also edible and commonly eaten raw in salads or steamed as a side dish. Bignay leaves are tart and may be used to flavour
rice, salads, vegetables dishes and meat stews. In Indonesia and the Philippines, the leaves are eaten raw or stewed with
rice. They are often combined with other vegetables as flavoring. Bignay leaf tea is also consumed throughout
Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
The leaves are sudorific and employed in treating snakebite in
Asia. The leaves and roots are used as medicine for traumatic injury.