Family • Sapindaceae - Nephelium lappaceum Linn. - RAMBOUTANIER - Shao tzu

Scientific names

Nephelium lappaceum Linn.
Nephelium glabrum Cambess.
Nephelium chryseum Blum.
Nephelium sufferrugineum Radlk.
Euphobia nephelium DC
Dimocarpus crinita Lour.

Common names

Usare (Sul.)
Usau (Bis.)
Hairy lychee (Engl.)
Rambutan (Malaya)
Ramboutanier (Engl.)
Shao tzu (Chinese)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Hong mao dan.
DUTCH: Ramboetan.
FRENCH: Litchi chevelu, Ramboutan, Ramboutanier.
HINDI: Ramboostan.
ITALIAN: Nefelio.
JAPANESE: Ranbuutan
KHMER: Chle sao mao, Saaw maaw, Ser mon.
KOREAN: Ram bu t’an.
MALAY: Rambutan, Rambutan jantan.
RUSSIAN: Rambutan.
SPANISH: Rambután.
THAI: Ngoh, Phruan.
VIETNAMESE: Chômchôm, Vai thiêù.

Rambutan is an evergreen, bushy tree, growing to a height of 20 meters, with a dense, low, round and spreading crown. Leaves are pinnately compound, 15 to 40 centimeters long, with 3 to 8 leaflets. The leaflets are elliptic, 7.5 to 20 centimeters long, and 3.5 to 8 centimeters wide. Flowers are greenish white, fragrant, very small, without petals, and borne on axillary panicles. Fruit is oblong, 4 to 5 centimeters long, red to yellow, covered with thick, coarse hairs or soft spines. Pulp is edible, white, opaque, translucent, juicy and sweet.


– Cultivated in most parts of the Philippines.
– Also reported in India to Indo-China and Malaya, and extensively cultivated in Java and Malaya.

Parts utilized
Roots, leaves and bark.


• Seeds yield 40-48 % rambutan tallow. The insoluble fatty acids of the tallow contain about 45 percent oleic acid. The tallow contains abundant arachin, some stearin and olein.
– The seeds have traces of an alkaloid, sugar 1.25%, starch 25%, and ash 2%.
– Flesh or pulp of the fruit yields saccharose 7.8^%, dextrose 2.25%, levulose 1.25%,
– Fruit contains fat 35%, ash 2%, vitamin C 4%.
– The shoots yield saponin.
– The testa of the seed is toxic due to the presence of Nephelium saponin and tannin.
– Seeds were abundant in fats (38.9%); protein and carbohydrates were 12.4% and 48% respectively. Seed oil showed an acid value of 0.37%; iodine value, 37.64%; and saponification value, 157.07. Major fatty acids were oleic acid (40.45%) and arachidic acid (36.36%). AOO (arachidoyl-dioleoylglycerol) was the major triacylglycerol compound of rambutan seed oil (49.84%).

• Fruit is considered astringent, stomachic, vermifuge, febrifuge.
– Seeds reported as bitter and narcotic.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Antioxidant and antibacterial activities of Nephelium lappaceum L. extracts / Nont Thitilertdecha et al / Food Science and Technology .Volume 41, Issue 10, December 2008, Pages 2029-2035 / doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2008.01.017

(2) Monoterpene lactones from the seeds of Nephelium lappaceum / Consolacion Ragasa et al / Journal of natural products / 2005, vol. 68, no9, pp. 1394-1396 / DOI: 10.1021/np0580053

(3) Rind of the rambutan, Nephelium lappaceum, a potential source of natural antioxidants / Uma Palanisamy et al / Food Chemistry • Volume 109, Issue 1, 1 July 2008, Pages 54-63 / doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2007.12.018

(4) Inhibitory effects of indonesian medicinal plants on the infection of herpes simplex virus type 1 
PTR. Phytotherapy research ISSN 0951-418X / 1999, vol. 13, no1, pp. 37-41

(5) Fatty acid synthase inhibitors from the hulls of Nephelium lappaceum L. / Zhao Y X, Liang W J, Fan H J et al / Carbohydr Res. 2011 Aug 16;346(11):1302-6. Epub 2011 Apr 28.

(6) ANTHOCYANINS EXTRACTED FROM RAMBUTAN (NEPHELIUM LAPPACEUM L.) PERICARP TISSUES AS POTENTIAL NATURAL ANTIOXIDANTS/ Jian Sun, Hongxiang Peng, Weiqiang Su et al / Journal of Food Biochemistry, Vol 35, No 5, Pp 1461–1467, October 2011 / DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-4514.2010.00467.x

(7) Rapid isolation of geraniin from Nepheliumlappaceum rind waste and its anti-hyperglycemic activity / Uma D Palanisamy, Lai Teng Ling et al / Food Chemistry, Volume 127, Issue 1, 1 July 2011, Pages 21–27

(8) Seed waste may be source of new fats: Study / Food Navigator

(9) Response surface optimization and characteristics of rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum L.) kernel fat by hexane extraction / Wanrada Sirisompong, Wannee Jirapakkul, Utai Klinkesorn / LWT – Food Science and Technology, Volume 44, Issue 9, November 2011, Pages 1946–1951

(10) Sorting Nephelium names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(11) Acute toxicity study of the crude extract of the fruit rind of rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum L.) in male Wistar rats / A Thinkratok, R Srisawat / Planta Med 2010; 76 – P630 / DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1264928

(12) Thermal Properties of Monoglycerides from Nephelium Lappaceum L. Oil, as a Natural Source of Saturated and Monounsaturated Fatty Acids / Valentin Romain, Adolphe Christian Ngakegni-Limbili, , Zéphirin Mouloungui *, and Jean-Maurille Ouamba / Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., August 25, 2013 / DOI: 10.1021/ie401875v

(13) The Effect of Rambutan Seed (Nephelium lappaceum L.) Infusion on Blood Glucose and Pancreas Histology of Mice Induced with Alloxan / LESTARI RAHAYU*, LATIF ZAKIR, SESILIA ANDRIANI KEBAN / JURNAL ILMU KEFARMASIAN INDONESIA, April 2013, hlm. 28-35

(14) Preliminary Study on Anti-proliferative Activity of Methanolic Extract of Nephelium lappaceum Peels towards Breast (MDA-MB-231), Cervical (HeLa) and Osteosarcoma (MG-63) Cancer Cell Lines / Khaizil Emylia Z, Nik Aina SNZ, Mohd Dasuki S* / Health and the Environment Journal, 2013, Vol 4, No. 2, pp 66-79

(15) Preliminary Study of Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) Seed as Potential Biocoagulant for Turbidity Removal / Abidin Zainal Zurina et al / 2014, Advanced Materials Research, 917, 96

(16) Physicochemical and Nutritional Composition of Rambutan Anak Sekolah (Nephelium lappaceum L.) Seed and Seed Oil / Harahap, Serida Nauli; Ramli, Nazaruddin; Vafaei, Nazanin; Said, Mamot / Pakistan Journal of Nutrition; Jun 2012, Vol. 11 Issue 6, p1073


– The Malays use a decoction of roots for fevers; the leaves for poulticing, and the bark as astringent for diseases of the tongue.
– Fruit decoction used for diarrhea and dysentery.
– Edible pulp (aril) is used as an refrigerant in fevers.
– In China, fruit is recommended for severe dysentery, and as a warm carminative in “cold” dyspepsia.
– In Malaya, astringent bark is used as remedy for thrush. Decoction of roots taken as febrifuge. source 


Elsewhere, seed used to extract oil; also roasted and eaten.

Rambutan3Study Findings
• Antioxidant / Antibacterial: Study yielded high amounts of phenolic compounds in the peel extracts, highest in the methanolic extract, exhibiting higher antioxidant activity than the seed extracts. All peel extracts exhibited antibacterial activity against five pathogenic bacteria.
• Phytochemicals / Monoterpene Lactones: Study isolated two new diasteromeric monoterpene lactones 1 and 2. Both underwent antimicrobial testing.
• Antioxidant in Rinds: The normally discarded rind was found to have extremely high antioxidant activity. The study of the extract revealed high phenolic content, low pro-oxidant capacity and strong antioxidant activity with cosmetic, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical potentials.
• Antiviral / Anti-Herpes: Tested for anti HSV-1 virus activity, N lappaceum significantly affected the development of skin lesions and reduced mortality.
• Cancer Chemopreventive / Waste Product / Rind: Study of NL extract showed an antiproliferative effect associated with apoptosis. The extract induced G2/M arrest of HOS indicating inhibition of cell cycle progression as one of the mechanisms. Extract was non-cytotoxic to normal cells at its inhibitory concentration. The study showed a potential for the rind, an underutilized waste product of Nephelium lappaceum.|
• Antioxidant in Peels / Elliagitannins: The methanolic extract of NL peels exhibited strong antioxidant properties. Study isolated ellagic acid, corilagin, and geraniin. The ellagitannins, principal components of rambutan peels present as potential for utilization in both food and medical industry.
• Fatty Acid Synthase / Potential Cancer and Obesity Therapeutics: Natural products inhibiting fatty acid synthase are potential therapeutic agents to treat cancer and obesity. Study isolated 10 compounds in NL, including flavonoids and oleane-type triterpene oligoglycosides. Compounds 8 and 9 were hederagenin derivatives. The isolates showed inhibitory activity against FAS. Results suggest the hulls of NL may be a potential source of promising FAS inhibitors.
• Anthocyanins / Antioxidant: Anthocyanins, known to possess high antioxidant activity, were extracted from rambutan pericarp tissue. However, the pericarp tissue is usually discarded as waste. Results suggest a potential for extraction of health-beneficial bioactive compounds such as anthocyanins, with potential benefit to the rambutan industry.
• Seed and Seed Oil / Physiochemical and Nutritional Composition: Seeds were found abundant in fats (38.(%), protein (12.4%), carbohydrate (48%). Seed oil yielded oleic acid (40.45%) and arachidic acid (36.36%) as major fatty acid. Results showed rambutan seed is a potential source of oil or carbohydrate for the human diet and for food product application.
• Anti-Hyperglycemic / Geraniin: Study described rapid isolated of geraniin. In addition to high antioxidant activity and low pro-oxidant capability, geraniin showed in vitro hypoglycemic activity and aldol reductase inhibition activity, and was able to prevent the formation of advanced glycation end-products. Results support the used of a geraniin-standardized N. lappaceum extract for the management of hyperglycemia.
• Seed Waste as Source of Fat: Study reported that the seed kernel of rambutan, a product generally considered waste material, can be used as a sustainable source of fats. Seed kernels yield a considerable amount of fat and high arachidic acid that makes the fat highly stable to oxidation, and a potential source of industry fats.
• Ellagitannins / Antioxidant: Study isolated ellagitanins ellagic acid corilagin and geraniin. Geraniin was the major component, exhibiting much greater antioxidant activities than BHT in both lipid peroxidation and DPPH assay. Results suggest use of the isolated ellagitannins from the peels for both medicine and food industry.
• New Hederagenin Glycoside: A new oleane-type triterpene oligoglycoside, hederagenin 3-O-(3-O-acetyl-i-D-xylopyranosyl)-(13)-h- L-arabinopyranoside, together with four known compounds, was isolated from the hull of Nephelium lappaceum.
• Fruit Rind Safety / Cosmetic and Pharmaceutical Potential: Studies have suggested the fruit rind can be considered an easily accessible source of natural antioxidants and antibacterial agent. Study of ethanol extract showed no toxicity in doses up to 5g/kg. Results suggest rambutan rind extract should be safe for use in cosmetic, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical applications.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Rind / Collagen-Induced Arthritis: Study evaluated the protective efficacy of an ethanol extract of N. lappaceum rind against collagen-induced arthritis in rats. N. lappaceum rind extract showed significant and dose-dependent suppression of the physiological, biochemical and histopathological changes produced during collagen-induced arthritis in rats. N. lappaceum extract supplementation may be beneficial in preventing the tissue damage and inflammatory conditions in arthritis.
• Thermal Properties of Monoglycerides / Natural Source of Saturated and Monosaturated Fatty Acids: Paper studied the transformations of reserve lipids of species of Nephelium lappaceum, exploring the transition from native triglycerides to pure monglycerides. Results suggest useful applications in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries.
• Hepatoprotective / Rind: Study evaluated the protective effect of a rind extract on paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicities in mice. Results showed a hepatoprotective effect through improvement of GSH content.
• Antibacterial / Rind: Study evaluated the antibacterial activity of rambutan rinds and minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) against pathogenic bacteria. Results showed crude extracts to have a broad spectrum of antibacterial activity , with greatest inhibitory activity against Staphylococcus aureus.
• Antidiabetic / Seed Infusion: Study evaluated the effect of rambutan seed infusion on blood sugar levels and body weight of mice with alloxan-induced diabetes. Results showed significant reduction in blood glucose and body weight of mice. The effect was comparable to glibenclamide.
• Antiproliferative / Breast, Cervical and Osteosarcoma Cancer Cell Lines: A methanolic yellow NLPE showed most potent cytotoxic activity against several tested cancerous cell line. The yellow NLPE may represent an experimental therapeutic approach for breast cancer treatment.
• Biocoagulant / Seed / Turbidity Removal: Study evaluated the ability of coagulation performance of rambutan seed in comparison to alum for potential use in turbidity removal in water and wastewater treatment industry. 1 M NaCl was an effective solvent for extracting the active coagulant agent in rambutan seed, with about 99 % turbidity removal. Results suggest a potential for using rambutan biomass as biocoagulant.
• Seed and Seed Oil Composition: Study showed rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) seed is a potential source of oil or carbohydrate for the human diet and also for food product application.