Cerbera manghas

Illustration by Karyono, CIFOR


Cerbera manghas, also known as a sea mango or bintaro in Indonesia, is naturally distributed from the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean eastward to French Polynesia. It occupies coastal habitats and is often grows in mangrove forests. This tree has been introduced to Hawaii and other tropical locations as an ornamental species.


As such, the roots, bark and leaves are used to prepare a purgative. The seeds are used in traditional medicine in Madagascar to treat cardiac disorders. In tropical Asia, Cerbera manghas seeds are used to treat scabies and skin irritation, to prepare hair tonics and as a fish poison. Traditionally, the bark is used as a laxative and antipyretic and in the treatment of dysuria and ringworm, while the flowers are used to treat hemorrhoids. Wood from the Cerbera manghas is used in tropical Asia for moldings, interior trim, fruit cases, core veneer, matches, shuttering, clogs, furniture, and carving. Charcoal production is another by-product. Cerbera manghas is also planted as an ornamental tree, and the fibrous fruits are used in flower arrangements.

In the Field

In Sumatra, researchers from CIFOR and South Korea’s National Institute of Forest Science established a pilot project in partnership with Indonesia’s Sriwijaya University to demonstrate what could grow on degraded and marginal land  The researchers used paludiculture (wetland agroforestry) to show how bintaro, nyamplung (Calophyllum inophyllum) and jelutong (Dyera lowii) can grow among rice paddies and pineapple in degraded peatland environments.


Cerbera manghas oil is useful for biodiesel production and as a non-edible feedstock. Derived from the fruit of the tree, the oil content from Cerbera manghas seeds is 54 percent. Biodiesel is produced from Cerbera manghas methyl ester (CMME) and its properties of Cerbera manghas fall within the recommended biodiesel standards. Based on these properties, Cerbera manghas oil shows promise as raw material to support the future production of biodiesel.

Related publications

  • CIFOR (2020). CIFOR Annual Report 2019: Forests in a time of crises. Bogor, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

  • Lemmens, M. J. (2006). Cerbera manghas [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands.

  • Ong, H. C., Silitonga, A. S., Mahlia, T. M. I., Masjuki, H. H., & Chong, W. T. (2014). Investigation of biodiesel production from Cerbera manghas biofuel sources. Energy Procedia, 61, 436-439.

  • Radford, D. J., Gillies, A. D., Hinds, J. A., & Duffy, P. (1986). Naturally occurring cardiac glycosides. Medical Journal of Australia, 144(10), 540-544.

The information provided in this article is not peer-reviewed and is not intended as advice. It is based on current knowledge and the available literature. CIFOR and partner organizations do not provide any guarantees and recommend interested stakeholders undertake further independent assessments and verifications before making business and investment decisions.