Kepel fruits, botanically classified as Stelechocarpus burahol, grow on an evergreen, tropical tree belonging to the Annonaceae family. The variety is native to Southeast Asia and is as an ornamental, producing dark green and red, glossy leaves. It has brightly colored flowers that decorate the tree’s trunk. Hundreds of fruits also grow directly from the tree’s lower trunk, giving the tree an unusual, enveloped appearance. Despite their ornamental nature, Kepel fruit trees are an endangered species as most of the trees in Southeast Asia have been cut down for urban development.
Kepel fruit plant (Stelechocarpus burahol)
Eventually, in the 1970s, the fruits were permitted for widespread consumption. But still many traditional families cut down the trees as they treated the fruits as off-limits. In the modern-day, Kepel fruits are rare, scarcely sold in local markets, and are foraged from the remaining trees for fresh consumption. Variety replantation is happening with high efforts. Kepel fruit trees are slow-growing which has reduced repopulation efforts.