A tree of luk-nieng
Synonyms: Pithocollabium lobatum, Pithecellabium jiringa
Other names: Jering
Luk-nieng is a native of South East Asia. It grows widely in the forests of humid and mountainous areas, as well as along river banks in Indonesia, Malaysia and South Thailand. The tree is quite common in these countries. Ripe fruits are eaten out of hand while the raw ones are cooked and eaten as a vegetable.
An evergreen tree, 18-24 m tall with a spreading crown.
Leaves glabrous, in pairs, oblong and stiff.
Flowers borne in panicles of 3-5 flowers each; calyx sessile, corolla white; filament shorter than the corolla.
Fruits 20-50 cm long, 4-5 cm wide, horseshoe-shaped or twisted, deep purple, deeply lobed along the lower suture, and are easily broken by hand.
Seeds 3-5 cm wide, testa yellow in the beginning but turning brown at maturity, 3-6 seeds per pod; edible with a strong odour.
Luk-nieng pods are eaten both raw as well as after maturity. The immature fruits are cooked as a vegetable and made into a curry to be used with any hot food.
However, there are reports that djenkolic acid, an amino acid derivative, was found in luk-nieng. Ingestion of this seed causes djenkolism, a symptom that could be developed by the formation of sharp needle-like crystals of djenkolic acid in the kidney or urinary tract showing symptoms like suffering from kidney or urinary stones.
Ripe pods of luk nieng
For using luk-nieng as a dessert fruit, it is recommended to cook these in a mixture of water, wood ash, bamboo leaves and pieces of steel or nails and discard the extract. Local people have used this method for centuries.
The seeds contains: moisture 76.3 g, calorie 92 units, fat 0.2 g; carbohydrate 16.9 g, fibre 1.3 g, protein 6.2 g, calcium 23 mg, phosphorous 38 mg, iron 0.7 mg, vitamin A 658 IU, vitamin B1 0.14 mg, vitamin B2 0.01 mg, niacin 0.4 mg, and vitamin C 8.0 mg.
Germinating mature seeds of luk-nieng are also eaten by some people. Such seeds are starchy, odourous and crispy, which satisfies many people.
Most luk-nieng fruits are collected from wild growing plants on only. But this tree can be easily propagated by seed.