Cebu News

Balit Erioglossum rubiginosum

The Freeman

Physical Characteristics

CEBU, Philippines - Balit is a shrub or small tree, with a compact or bushy crown. All parts are covered with hairs. The leaves are pinnate and each measures 15 to 50 centimeters long, with four to six pairs of elliptic leaflets.

A leaflet is 7.5 to 18 centimeters long, eight to seven centimeters wide, and blunt at the ends. The flowers are very fragrant, white, about five millimeters wide, and arranged in small groups in upright panicles. The fruit is about one centimeter long and covered with fine hairs. When ripening, it turns successively yellow, orange, purple, and nearly black. When ripe, it has a thin, juicy sweetish, slightly astringent pulp.


It is commonly found in forests at low and medium altitudes throughout the Philippines, in most provinces and islands.

Contemporary Use

The aril of the fruit is edible, but it is not worth eating, though Malay children commonly eat it. The new shoots are used as vegetables.

Traditional Use

Its astringent roots in decoction are given for fevers. The roots and leaves are used for poulticing the head during a fever and the body for skin complaints. Seeds in decoction are used for whooping cough.

How to plant your balit seedling

Clear the area where you want to plant your seedling of unwanted weeds and debris. Make sure that a one-meter radius is kept free from other vegetation. Dig a plant hole with dimensions of at least 20 cm x 20 cm x 20 cm. Plant the seedling at proper depth. Root collar should be at level with or a little below the ground surface with the seedling oriented upward. Fill the hole with top or garden soil and press soil firmly around the base of the seedling. In plantation-making, seedlings should maintain a two-meter distance between seedlings if planted in a row of a three-meter distance from one strip to the next strip.

How to take care of your balit seedling

Remove grass and other unwanted vegetation and cultivate the soil around the base of the seedling (50 cm radius) once in every quarter for two to three years. Place mulch around the base of the seedling (maintaining the 50 cm radius and using cut grass, leaves, and other suitable materials as mulch base). Prune the branches at most 50 percent of the crown depth, preferably during dry season, and ensure that when pruning, you do not injure the bark. Remove infected or infested vegetation nearby to stop plant diseases from spreading and contaminating your seedling. Monitor regularly the growth of the seedling for presence of pests and diseases.

Data about native tree species are featured by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. For comments and suggestions, e-mail Hannah.Aranas @rafi.org.ph.

The FREEMAN and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. is running twice-monthly features on native trees to highlight their advantages and uses as well as encourage their planting, cultivation and care.










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