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No, it is not a black olive, it is…..

January 29, 2011

…..a Kopsia (Apocynaceae)! The white flowers of the Kopsia genus  are decorative, and the equally decorative fruits of some species resemble black olives. Thais often confuse the poisonous fruits of Kopsia with the edible fruits of Pili nut or ‘makliam’ (Canarium subulatum, Burseraceae). The simplest way to distinguish the two is to pick a leaf. If there is a a white latex, then it is a member of the lilavadee family (Apocynaceae), i.e. a poisonous Kopsia.

Identifying Kopsia species is not that simple. Introduced garden ornamentals may not be included in a local flora. A worldwide treatment was published by Dr Middleton in 2004. At Dokmai Garden we grow a Kopsia resembling Kopsia arborea, except it has a pink eye (corolla), while the literature says it should be white. Correspondence with Dr Middleton will help us with a precise identification.

Dokmai Garden’s sapling Kopsia is evergreen, and with water it seems almost ever blooming. The fruits are decorative, and the tree grows quickly to about 2.5 m.

Eric Danell




2 Comments leave one →
  1. caroline permalink
    February 1, 2011 7:36 AM

    Kopsia singaporensis, I believe

    • February 1, 2011 8:29 AM

      Dear Caroline,

      Thank you for your kind suggestion. Indeed the red eye suggests K. singapurensis, but the fruit in our Kopisa seems much bigger (4.5 cm), and it is not equipped with a spur as suggested by the literature. However, it does have a ‘backbone ridge’. Do you have pictures of the K. singapurensis fruit?

      Kind regards, Eric

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