Bambangan: The underutilised fruit of Borneo

Forest Treasure from the Land of Hornbills by UiTM

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Forest Treasure from the Land of Hornbills

Series 2

BAMBANGAN (Mangifera pajang), also known as wild mango, is one of the famous seasonal fruits in Borneo.

Bambangan is an oval-shaped fruit with rough, thick brown skin, distinguishing it from other Mangifera species usually characterised by smooth green, red, and yellow skin.

The tree of the Bambangan tends to grow well up to 35m tall in tropical weather of high humidity and a shaded location, such as lowland dipterocarp forest, in various types of soil with pH levels between five and seven, such as highland soil. Each tree can bear hundreds of fruits during the fruiting season, weighing 0.5 to 1.0kg or more each.

Its yellow flesh is fibrous in texture with an intense aromatic smell. It tastes delightful, and locals usually consume it raw or make it into pickles. It has also been used as traditional medicine.

However, a lack of information and promotion could be a reason for its unpopularity.

Nevertheless, it could be more familiar and attractive with under-exploited potential. Thus, a team led by Professor Dr Khong Heng Yen investigated this Bornean fruit for its nutrient composition, total phenolics, total flavonoid contents, and antimicrobial and antioxidant activities.

Tests showed that the fruit contains high total phenolic and total flavonoid contents. In addition, the fruit extracts exhibited strong antioxidant activities with a low inhibitory concentration and demonstrated the best-reducing effect.

Furthermore, the findings revealed that Bambangan fruits showed moderate antimicrobial activities against the human pathogen, indicating that the fruit can potentially treat various ailments associated with these pathogens excellently.

Another study by a research group at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has demonstrated that the treated subjects with regular consumption of Bambangan fruit juice showed significant improvement in specific cardiovascular biochemical parameters that can safeguard against cardiovascular diseases.

In addition, a scientist at the Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) University also found that Bambangan seed extract can kill almost 90 per cent of the breast cancer cell population within 72 hours.

The findings indicate that Bambangan may impart health benefits when consumed and should be remarked as a source of antioxidant-rich nutraceuticals.

As such, Sarawak should further develop the commercialised potential of this underutilised fruit from Bambangan into healthy products to increase its economic value and optimise its utilisation by promoting them to other parts of the world. — DayakDaily

Professor Dr Khong Heng Yen is a professor at UiTM Sarawak under the university’s Faculty of Applied Sciences. Her expertise includes bioassay-guided fractionation and isolation of bioactive constituents from medicinal plants, standardising Malaysian medicinal plants, and identifying essential oils.

‘Forest Treasure from the Land of Hornbills’ is a column that will be contributed periodically by UiTM Sarawak.

The Bambangan is an oval-shaped fruit with rough, thick brown skin. Its yellow flesh is fibrous in texture with an intense aromatic smell. Photo credit: Professor Dr Khong Heng Yen