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Rambutan is a small, hairy, red or yellow fruit native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. It is a popular fruit among locals and tourists alike, known for its unique appearance and sweet and sour taste. The name “rambutan” comes from the Malay word “rambut,” meaning “hair,” due to the fruit’s fleshy, hair-like appendages. In this article, we will delve into the etymology, description, taxonomy, cultivars, distribution, cultivation, production, uses, phytochemistry, flavor, toxicity, nutrition, and cultural significance of rambutan.


The name “rambutan” is derived from the Malay word “rambut,” meaning “hair.” This refers to the fruit’s unique, fleshy, hair-like appendages that cover its surface. In Malay, the fruit is called “rambutan,” while in Indonesian, it is called “rambutan” or “hairy fruit.”


Rambutan is a small, round or oval-shaped fruit that grows up to 1.5 inches in diameter. Its leathery skin is covered in fleshy, hair-like appendages called “arils,” which are usually red or yellow in color. The arils are soft and flexible, and are easily removable from the fruit’s core. The fruit’s pulp is white or translucent, with a sweet and sour taste.

Taxonomy and Cultivars

Rambutan is a member of the Sapindaceae family, which includes other fruits like lychee and longan. There are several cultivars of rambutan, including:

Rambutan kecilSmall, sweet, and sour
Rambutan besarLarge, sweet, and slightly sour
Rambutan masSweet and slightly sour
Rambutan lebakSweet and sour

Distribution and Habitat

Rambutan is native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. It is commonly found in rainforests and mountainous regions, where it grows as a wild fruit. Today, rambutan is also cultivated in many countries, including China, Australia, and the United States.


Rambutan is typically grown from seed or grafting. It requires a warm and humid climate, with temperatures ranging from 64°F to 90°F (18°C to 32°C). The fruit is usually harvested when it is mature and the arils are fully developed.


Rambutan is widely cultivated in Southeast Asia, with Malaysia and Indonesia being the largest producers. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the global production of rambutan was over 1.4 million tons in 2020.


Rambutan is a versatile fruit that can be eaten fresh, dried, or canned. It is also used in traditional medicine, cosmetics, and as a natural dye.


Rambutan contains various phytochemicals, including:

Vitamin CAntioxidant and immune system booster
Vitamin EAntioxidant and skin protector
PotassiumHeart health and blood pressure regulator
FiberDigestive health and satiety promoter


Rambutan has a sweet and sour taste, similar to a combination of lychee and grape.


Rambutan is generally safe to eat, but may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.


Rambutan is a nutrient-rich fruit that provides:

NutrientAmount (per 100g)
Energy82 kcal
Vitamin C4.9mg
Vitamin E0.2mg


Rambutan has cultural significance in Southeast Asia, where it is considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity. In Malaysia, it is a popular fruit during the Hari Raya Puasa celebrations.

“In Malaysia, rambutan is a must-have fruit during Hari Raya Puasa. We eat it fresh or dried, and it’s a symbol of good luck and prosperity.” – Norhayati, Malaysian homemaker

In conclusion, rambutan is a unique and nutritious fruit that is rich in history, culture, and phytochemicals. Its sweet and sour taste, hairy appearance, and versatility make it a popular fruit