|Etymology||Genus||After Johann Jacob Dillen, an 18th century German botanist|
|Common Names||Elephant Apple, Indian Simpoh|
|Status||Native: Presumed Extinct|
|Native Distribution||India, South China to Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, and Java|
While Dillenia indica is extinct in Singapore, they are commonly cultivated around the city. However, because of their large and heavy fruits, planting along roadsides are usually avoided.
The flowers with white petals droop downwards. Their inconspicuousness probably meant that they attract the pollinators by emitting scent. I have never attempted to smell them before, less I offend the bees they attract. The Elephant Apple's fruits are interesting because the sepals thicken and overlap each other, protecting the green flesh embedded with numerous seeds. The fruits are said to be eaten by elephants, but according to Corner (1997), the species, which grow along streams and rivers, are water-dispersed. The seeds will germinated when washed ashore.
The fruit pulp is rich in saponin, a chemical that foams readily when mixed with water, and therefore used as a form of soap (Wee, 2003).
Form of Dillenia indica.
The leaves have the appearance of a corrugated cardboard.
Flower of the Elephant Apple, taken from bottom up.
Fruits are formed from thicken sepals.
This explains the inclusion of "Apple" in its common name.
Sliced fruit. Note the overlapping sepals in white and the flesh at the centre.