Aegle marmelos

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Aegle marmelos
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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Aegle marmelos, Correa (Crateva Marmelos, Linn. Belou Marmelos, W. F. Wight). The bael fruit of India. A handsome tree native to N. India, but widely cult. throughout the Peninsula as well as in Ceylon, Burma, Siam and Indo-China. The trifoliolate lvs., borne on wingless petioles, are thin in texture, probably owing to the fact that they are deciduous. Although not so hardy as the deciduous trifoliate orange of China and Japan, the bael fruit tree is said to endure a considerable degree of cold (20° F. or lower) in the drier parts of N. W. India. The fr. is greenish yellow, globular, or nearly so, varying from 245 (usually 4-5) in. in diam. The fr. of the wild tree is considerably smaller than that of the cult. form. The hard shell, 1/8in. thick, is filled with the pale orange, aromatic pulp in which occur 10-15 long, narrow cells containing the seeds imbedded in transparent tenacious gum. These cells correspond to the segnis. of an orange, while the pulp is made up of the pith and the greatly thickened fleshy membranes separating the cells. I11. Roxb., Pl. Corom., pl. 143. Wight, Ic., pl. 16. Bedd., Fl. Sylv., pl. 161. Benth. & Trim., Med. PI., 55. Bonav., Oranges and Lemons of India and Ceylon, Atlas, pl. 242, 243. The ripe fr. is much esteemed by the Hindus, many of whom consider it the best of the citrous frs.; the European residents in India often become very fond of it.

Watt says (Dict. of Econom. Prod, of India, 1:123): "The fruit, when ripe, is sweetish, wholesome, nutritious, and very palatable, and much esteemed and eaten by all classes. The ripe fruit, diluted with water, forms, with the addition of a small quantity of tamarind and sugar, a delicious and cooling drink." The famous botanist, Roxburgh, says (Flora Indica, 2:580): "The fruit is nutritious, warm, cathartic; in taste delicious, in fragrance exquisite; . . ."

On the other hand, W. R. Mustoe, Superintendent, Government Archeological Gardens, Lahore, India, writes (in a letter to D. G. Fairchild, dated Lahore, Dec. 3, 1908): "The fruit is greatly prized for eating by the natives, but can scarcely be looked upon as palatable to the white man except as a sherbet; . . ." Sherbet is made from the mashed pulp, which is diluted with a little water, and then strained into milk or soda-water and sugared to taste. Sometimes a little tamarind is added to give a subacid flavor. All Indian medical authorities agree that the bael fruit has a most salutory influence on the digestive system. The ripe fruit is mildly laxative and is a good simple remedy for dyspepsia. The unripe fruit is a specific of the highest value for dysentery, but so mild that it can be given to children without danger. The bael fruit tree is widely cultivated in India, and is found in nearly every temple garden. It is dedicated to Siva, whose worship cannot be completed without its leaves. This promising fruit tree is now being tested at several points in the warmer parts of the United States. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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