Cebu News

Tree of the month (Part 1): BINUNGA (Macaranga tanarius)

The Freeman

Physical characteristics

CEBU, Philippines - Binunga is a small tree reaching a height of four to eight meters or more and a diameter at breast height of about 20 to 40 centimeters or more.

Its crown is thick, dome-shaped in individuals growing in the open, and often bluish-green from a distance. Branches are many, slender and rounded. The bole is straight, short and cylindrical.

Its outer bark is rather smooth, gray or gray-brown, hoop-marked, and strips off easily. The inner bark is yellowish-white and exudes a colorless liquid.

The leaves are arranged spirally and simple. The flowers are small and without petals. The fruit is a capsule 10 to 12 millimeters in diameter. It is covered with pale, waxy glands, and with soft, scattered, elongated and spine-like processes. The seeds are fleshy.


This specie is very common and widely distributed in open places and second-growth forests throughout the Philippines.

Contemporary Use

The bark yields a brown dye. The boles are frequently used for temporary construction and especially as parts of native houses not in contact with the ground.

The wood is a favorite material for wooden shoes aside from being good for firewood. It is soft and light, about 500 kilogram/cubic meter when dried. It is not durable or resistant to termite attack but is fairly tough. It also yields high-quality pulp and may be used for particle board, cement-bonded board, wood-wool board and plywood production.

Bark, leaves, and fruits are widely used in the Philippines in fermenting a drink called “basi,” which is made from sugarcane.  Glue obtained from the bark is used for fastening together the parts of musical instruments such as guitars and violins. The bark is tapped through V-shaped incisions, and the sap is collected and used shortly afterwards. However, if the sap is allowed to stand until it becomes sticky, it is worthless for the above-mentioned purpose.

The grain is straight or only shallowly interlocked, with a moderately fine and even texture. The bark contains tannin, which is used for toughening fishing nets. Nets dipped in a bark extract will stand the influence of seawater for a considerable amount of time.

Traditional Use

Binunga is used in traditional medicine in many ways. The powdered root induces vomiting in case of fevers. The root extract is administered against coughing up of blood. The leaf or the root extract is used as an internal medicine and the root-bark extract is drank to treat diarrhea, dysentery and fever, to clean wounds, or applied after childbirth. The medicinal effects may be due to tannins from the bark and leaves.

How to plant your binunga 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, maintain a two-meter distance between seedlings if they are planted in a row of a three-meter distance from one strip to the next strip.

How to take care of your binunga seedling

Remove grass and other unwanted vegetation and cultivate the soil around the base of the seedling (50-centimeter radius) once in every quarter for two to three years. Place mulch around the base of the seedling (maintaining the 50-centimeter 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 [email protected] Learn about other native trees, visit www.rafi.org.ph/greenin-philippines.










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