Common Name: Bitongol, Bitaog
Local names: Batarau (Cagayan, Batanes), bitaog (Babuyanes, Abra, Zambales, Ilocos Norte and Sur, Bataan, Leyte, Agusan); bitaoi (Pangasinan); bitong (Bataan); bi-taog (Cagayan, Camiguin, Isabela; bittog (Bataan); butalao (Batangas); dagkalan (Isabela); dangkalan (Bataan, Tayabas, Camarines, Albay, Mindoro, Masbate, Negros, Capiz, Lanao, Zamboanga, Burias Island, Butuan, Cotabato, Palawan) dangkaan (Davao); palomaria (Mindoro, Tayabas, Bataan, Zambales, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Cagayan, Manila, Cebu, Zamboanga; palomaria dela playa (Bataan, Laguna, Camarines, Mindoro, Misamis, Zamboanga, Basilan); pamittoagen, tambo-tambo (Jolo); Vutalau (Batanes).
International name: Poon (India), bitanghol, bitaog (Philippines), Tamanau (New Caledonia, Penaga (Sabah), ka thang han, ka thang lan, Tang hon (Thailand), damanu (Fiji Islands).
Scientific name: Callophylum inophyllum L.
Bitaog is medium to large-sized tree which attains a height of 25-35 m and a diameter at breast height of 150 cm. Its trunk is short with low big branches and a dense spreading crown. The bark outside is rough, cracky, dark brown to blackish. Its leaves are simple opposite, leathery, and oblong. The inflorescences unbranch, occasionally with threeflowered branches. Flowers are snowy, white, fragrant with numerous yellow stamens.
Fruits in a small bunch or drupe. They are round, smooth, with green exocarp measuring 3-4 cm in diameter. Its yellow seeds are enclosed in thin, dark brown cork and thin, brittle light brown shell with a diameter of 2-3 cm.
The tree is distributed throughout the Philippines, indigenous in Southeast Asia to tropical coasts, in the Pacific (Polynesian Islands). India to East Africa, northern Australia, Central and northern Queensland. Bitaog in now rare in Central Visayas. Ther are only 10 mature trees in Siquijor. In Cebu, bitaog is found in Bulhoon Municipal Hall and few trees in Osmeña Reforestation Project, Camp 7, Minglanilla, Cebu.
• Tree – shade, shelter, windbreak esplanade planting, reforestation and afforestation species.
• Timber – construction, furniture and cabinet work, ship stern, gunstock, musical instrument, cartwheel hubs, vessels, canoes and boats.
• Bark – source of tannin
• Flowers – bouquets and wreaths
• Seed – source of bitaog oil or tamanu oil, the sacred oil of ancient Tahitian. The oil is a potent healing agent that promote the formation of new tissue, thereby accelerating wound healing and growth of healthy skin a process known as cicatrisation. Bitaog oil is one of the most effective and known cicatrizing agent in nature. The oil with its unusual absorption, mild and pleasant aroma makes it ideal for use in lotions, creams and other cosmetic products. It is also excellent for soap making. The Polynesian women use it for the care of their babies skin, which is sensitive to rashes and other skin problems. It is also a traditional topical aid where the oil is applied to cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites and stings, abrasions, acne and acne scars, psoriasis, diabetic sores, anal fissures, sunburn, dry or scaly skin, blisters, eczema, herpes sores, athlete foot, foot, foot and body odor and hair loss. The oil when massaged into the skin relieves neuralgia, rheumatism, sprains and sciantica. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The ethyl ether of the oil is used as an intramuscular injection to relieve pain and symptom of leprosy. It also combats head lice and eliminates dandruff. Used as illuminant in the rural areas, the freshly fallen fruits are gathered and the pulp is allowed to ferment. The fermented pulp is removed by hand. The thin shell is then cracked and the kernel is thinly sliced and dried thoroughly under the sun. The dried kernel slivers are steamed and the oil is squeezed by hands. The extracted oil is used as lamp oil and in the preparation of varnish.
Bitaog oil is greenish yellow in color: The kernels contain 60-75% oil. The oil contains 71.5% fatty oil and 28.4% resin. The fatty acids consist largely of palmitic, oleic and stearic acid.
Bitaog is common in seashores and sandy beaches. It is also found in areas with sandy soil.
Bitaog grows in the uplands up to 400-500 m asl. It needs calcarious soil with high pH. It can also grow in mine tailing areas and degraded soil.
Bitaog can be propagated through seeds. Collect the seeds from the tree either by picking individual fruits, looping off the branches with pruning poles, or collecting them from the ground. Extract the pulp manually. Air dry the seeds. Do not dry under the sun. Store seeds at an MC of 20% and above in a refrigerator or in air tight container. Bitaog seed count is 78 seeds/liter. The seed type is intermediate.
Before planting the seeds, pre-treatment is important. Remove the shell completely then soak the seeds in tap water overnight. Seeds will germinate in 8-12 days. The treated seeds are then directly sowed in the medium containing 1:1:1 ordinary garden soil, dried humus, and fine sand in plastic trays or in seed boxes. Bitaog can also be propagated by wildlings which abound under the canopy of some mother trees. Bitaog wildlings, having hardy thick leaves, have a high survival rate.
Uproot wildlings by breaking the soil with a spade after heavy rain. Uprooted wildlings are then packed in newspaper and used clothing before placing them in a folded banana leaf/sheath.
Florido, Helen and Fe Cortiguerra. Research Information Series on Ecosystems. Volume 16 No. 1. January – April 2004. Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau. College, Laguna.