(Polyalthia suberosa)

A tree of cham khirni

Family: Annonaceae

Synonyms: Uvaria suberosa

Other names: Gua koli, karadia

Cham khirni is a fruit from Central and South East Asia.  It grows in China, India, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand etc.

Foliage of cham khirni

            In India cham-khirni grows from Assam to Uttar Pradesh in north and Kerala in south. The trees usually grow in shady moist localities near streams in semi-evergreen forests and in village thickets.  It tolerates heavy shade.

             Cham-khirni is not cultivated.


 Small trees, 4-6 m tall, branching from base; bark fissured, corky, rough; young branches rufous tomentose.

Leaves simple, alternate, distichous, estipulate; petiole 2-3 mm long, brown pubescent, slender; lamina 3-12 x 1-3.5 cm oblong, elliptic-oblong or oblong-lanceolate, base slightly narrowed, oblique or obtuse, apex obtuse or obtusely acute, margin entire, undulate, glabrous and shiny above, pubescent and pale beneath, submembranous; lateral veins 9-12 pairs, pinnate, faint; intercostae reticulate.

Cham khirni flower

Flowers bisexual, yellowish-green, mostly suffused with purple, solitary, rarely in pairs, extra-axillary, 8-10 mm long; pedicels slender, 1.5-2.5 cm long; sepals 3, spreading, ovate, acute, ca. 2 x 1 mm, pubescent outside, glabrous inside, petals 6 (3+3); outer petals ovate to oblong-lanceolate, acute, slightly reflexed, ca. 6 x 4-5 mm, thickly coriaceous, silky pubescent outside, glabrous inside; inner ones slightly longer; torus convex; stamens numerous, ca. 1 mm long, connectives slightly convex at top concealing the anther cells; carpels many, ca. 2 mm long, pubescent, ovule one, style oblong, stigma triangular, flat.

Fruits of cham khirni

Fruit aggregate of berries; fruitlets subglobose, purple ca. 5 mm across, puberulous, stalks slender, 0.5-1 cm long;

Seeds 1, globose, smooth.


Cham-khirni fruits are sweet and have an agreeable taste.  These are mostly eaten by children.

            A decoction of fresh roots is used as an abortifacient. The plant is a host for lac insect. 

            Wood is durable and used for carpentry, masts and boat making.