Nandao Tri Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department

Nandao Tri (Pacific Lychee)

  • When young, this tree is very fast growing at close to 2 m in height per year.
  • Fruit and seeds are mainly spread by fruit bats, birds and humans.
  • The juice of the bark is used for treating maladies of the spleen and for coughs. The bark is also used to apply to wounds and sores.
  • An extract of the leaves is used to treat ciguatera.

Pometia pinnata

Native to Vanuatu, the Nandao grows in secondary forest up to 300 m in altitude. There are several varieties, ranging from a small to very large tree, but typically is 12 to 20 m tall with a canopy diameter of 10 to 20 m. They are stout trees with short twisted or fluted trunks to slender, fairly straight, trees. Older trees have prominent buttresses. Parts of the tree are used as traditional medicines.


Leaflets are firmly herbaceous (herb-like) to coriaceous (leathery), asymmetrical to symmetrical, variably shaped from oblong, lanceolate (pointed at both ends) to egg-shaped. The largest leaves average 12 to 30 cm long and 4 to 10 cm wide. The midrib of the leaf is flat above with a narrow keel that is triangular in section. Leaflet margin is about 3 mm deep, dentate (has a serrated edge) or repand (slightly undulating margin) to subentire (only a few indentations). Juvenile leaves are densely covered in brownish hairs and are large, thin, and initially brightly coloured (pink to red) turning green at maturity.


Nandao have highly variable flower clusters, including clusters of terminal, sub-terminal, or rarely axillary loose clusters, conspicuously projecting beyond the foliage, from stiff to hanging long main branches, simple or with secondary branching. Male flowers open first and greatly outnumber female flowers. Flowers are small, have a radial symmetry and are five-parted. The calyx (the part that encloses the petals and protects the buds) is dish shaped to shallow cup-shaped. The flowers have no scent. The flower petals are small and regular and are whitish to yellow-green and highly variable in shape.


The fruit is highly variable in shape, from round to elliptical and sometimes paired. The skin of the fruit is smooth and variously coloured (greenish-yellow, yellow, red, purple, blackish or brown) with a gelatinous, sweet, white to slightly pinkish, translucent pulp that partially encases a single large seed. Numerous traditional varieties are recognised locally mainly on the basis of fruit characteristics (size, shape, colour and taste). Two main forms are found in Vanuatu, one with red fruits and the other with green fruits.

  • First fully open flower
  • Less than half the tree is in full flower
  • More than half the tree is in full flower
  • All of the tree is in full flower
  • No flowering
  • Less than half the tree has fruit
  • More than half the tree has fruit
  • All of the tree has fruit
  • No fruit

When to Look

  • Year round
  • The timing of flowering in Nandao varies regionally and may occur more than once per year.
  • Fruit matures approximately 3 to 4 months after flowering.

 Where to Look

  • This tree is mostly found in hot, humid, tropical lowlands (under 500 m in elevation). 
  • It prefers to grow in regions with annual rainfall between 1500 to 4300 mm, with summer or uniform rainfall patterns and a small or no dry season.
  • It is commonly found along shorelines and rivers.
  • It is more abundant in southern areas of Vanuatu than in the north.