Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wood Apple - vilampazham

Scientific Synonym
- Limonia acidissima

Also known as
- elephant apple, monkey fruit, vilampazham, Belada Hannu, Bael fruit, Kath bel

Native to
- Wood apple is indigenous to South India. It is also cultivated in. tropical Asia.

Rich Source of
- Wood apple consists of moisture 64.2 per cent, protein 7.1 per cent, fat 3.7 per cent, minerals 1.9 per cent, fibre 5.0 per cent and carbohydrates 18.1 per cent per 100 grams. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin. Its calorific value is 134. Wood apple is rich in oxalic, malic citric acid and a concentrated tannic acid.

Tastes like
- The pulp is brown, mealy, odorous, resinous, astringent, acid or sweetish, with numerous small, white seeds scattered through it.

- The wood-apple is generally grown from seeds though seedlings will not bear fruit until at least 15 years old. Multiplication may also be by root cuttings, air-layers, or by budding onto self-seedlings to induce dwarfing and precociousness

Interesting Facts -
  • Wood apple, as one of its aliases (elephant apple) suggest, is the favourite of elephants.
  • Naturally, the Hindu Elephant-headed God, Lord Vinayaka, is propitiated with an offering of this fruit
  • The rind must be cracked with a hammer. The scooped-out pulp, though sticky, is eaten raw with or without sugar, or is blended with coconut milk and palm-sugar sirup and drunk as a beverage, or frozen as an ice cream. It is also used in chutneys and for making jelly and jam. The jelly is purple and much like that made from black currants
  • he pulp of an unripe fruit is sour to taste and is made into chutney by mixing it with a paste of green chillies, salt and suitable spices.
  • Wood apple juice is effective thirst quencher in summer
  • The devotees of Lord Shiva commonly offer bael leaves to the deity, especially on Shivaratri; this probably explains why bael trees are so common near temples. Hindus also believe that goddess Lakshmi resides in bael leaves
  • Bael fruit pulp has a soap-like action that made it a household cleaner for hundreds of years.
  • The sticky layer around the unripe seeds is household glue that also finds use in jewellery-making.
  • The glue, mixed with lime, waterproofs wells and cements walls.
  • The glue also protects oil paintings when added as a coat on the canvas.
  • The fruit rind yields oil that is popular as a fragrance for hair; it also produces a dye used to colour silks and calico
Availability - early October through March

Health Benefits
  • It is an antidote for poisons and also helps in curing sore throat.
  • After the rains, the trunk and branches give off a gum called ‘Feronia gum’, which counteracts diarrhoea, dysentery and diabetes.
  • The pulp of the raw fruit is useful in arresting secretion or bleeding.
  • The ripe fruit is refreshing, aromatic, digestive and a tonic. It is useful in preventing and curing scurvy and in relieving flatulence.
  • Its leaves are not only aromatic but also possess some astringent and carminative properties.
  • The gum that the stem exudes has a soothing effect on the skin and mucous membranes.
  • Mashed seedless pulp of the raw fruit is beneficial in the treatment of dysentery, diarrhoea and piles.
  • The pulp of the ripe fruit, mixed with cardamom, honey and cumin seeds, is effective for; indigestion, diarrhoea and piles.
  • The transparent gummy substance oozing from the stem when cut or broken can be beneficially used in bowel affections.
  • It also relieves tenesmus, that is, powerful straining to relieve the bowels.
  • A mixture of the ripe pulp of the fruit, cardamom, honey and cumin seeds, taken regularly in the morning tones up sagging breasts.
  • It is also useful in preventing cancer of the breast and uterus and helps cure sterility due to a deficiency of the harmone progesterone.
  • About 90 grams of the sap of the fresh bark, 2 corns of pepper, a few drops of pure cow's ghee and a dessertspoon of honey, prevents any post-partum complications.
  • It is taken twice daily immediately after childbirth.
  • The bark of the tree is good for biliousness. It can be taken either in the powdered or decoction form. The juice of the leaves can also be applied to the skin eruptions caused by biliousness.
  • Cure for urticaria - 30 ml of fresh leaf juice, mixed with cumin is taken twice daily
  • Wood apple in the form of chutney or sherbet isuseful in treating hiccups. It is made with salt and tamarind.
  • Aphrodisiac: Powder of the leaves, dried in shade, with an equal quantity of sugar candy is useful in spermatorrhoea, or involuntary ejaculation, premature ejaculation and functional impotency.
  • Energy Booster: Hundred grams of Bel fruit pulp provides 140 calories and is therefore, a good energy booster.
  • Effective for ear-aches: The root of the bel tree is used to check different kinds of ear problem

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