Wood Apple

Other Names of Wood Apple

Wood apple or Limonia acidissima is a large tree with long leaves, a hard berry fruit and an inner sticky brown pulp. Wood apple is the only species of its genus, in the family Rutaceae. It is also known as:

  • Feronia limonia Swingle
  • Elephant apple
  • Monkey fruit
  • Curd fruit
  • Kath Bel
  • Gelinggai
  • Belinggai
  • Ma-khwit
  • Kramsang
  • Ma-fit
  • Pomme d' elephant
  • Pomme de bois
  • Citron des mois

Useful parts of the Plant:

Though the rind of the wood apple fruit is so hard that it has to be cracked with a hammer, the sticky pulp is edible and used to make syrups, drinks, jelly, and jams. Other useful parts of the plant are the roots, fruits, and leaves of this tree that are used for medicinal purposes.

The wood apple tree is cultivated in India and Sri Lanka as well as parts of Southeast Asia such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia. Long considered a 'poor man's food' it was only in the 1950s that various parts of the plant began to be used for medicinal and other uses. The wood apple fruit can be found in two forms the large sweet version and the small acidic ones. Both wood apple types have a number of health benefits.'

Wood apple fruit can be eaten plain or made into jams and sweets. In Indonesia, wood apple is mixed with honey and eaten for breakfast. In Thailand, they eat the leaves in salads while in India the pulp is used in savory chutneys.

Nutritional Information and Properties

Hundred grams of wood apple pulp contains 140kcal. The fruit contains carbohydrates and proteins. It is also rich in beta-carotene, vitamin B, vitamin C, thiamine, and riboflavin. Wood apple fruit that grow in the wild tend to have more tannin than those cultivated for commercial purposes.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses

Health benefits of wood apple include:

  • Wood apple is good for digestion. It destroys intestinal worms and cures chronic dysentery.
  • If you have piles or stomach ulcers, the fruit can help cure these conditions
  • Mix the ripe pulp with honey and cumin seeds to treat diarrhea and indigestion
  • The laxative property of the fruit also solves constipation problems
  • Wood apple fruit juice mixed with warm water and sugar can purify the blood and cleanse the digestive system.
  • It can cure scurvy, as it is rich in vitamin C
  • The gum found in tree is used to treat diabetes
  • Wood apple leaves can cure sore throat, chronic cough, and other respiratory conditions
  • The thiamine, riboflavin, and beta-carotene make it an important ingredient in medicines for the heart and liver
  • Roots of the wood apple tree are used to treat earaches
  • A wood apple chutney made with salt and tamarind can cure hiccups
  • Mix the ripe fruit pulp with honey, cumin, and cardamom to prevent breast or uterine cancer. It can also help cure sterility.
  • Wood apple taken after childbirth can prevent post-partum depression
  • Wood apple poultice made from the leaves can relieve joint pain
  • An infusion of the bark and stem can reduce heart palpitations and hypotension
  • Leaf juice mixed with pepper can treat anorexia and jaundice

Other Uses of Apple Wood

  • The pectin of the wood apple plant is first purified and then used for a number of purposes.
  • The hard shell or rind of the fruit can be used as a small container or made into boxes.
  • The gum of the wood apple tree can be used as a substitute for gum Arabic. This gum is also used to make paints such as watercolors, dyes, inks, and varnishes.
  • The wood is used for various construction purposes, as it is both heavy and long lasting.
  • The wood is also used as fuel.
  • Wood apple fruit is used for medicinal purposes in form of a tonic, a powder or a poultice
  • Wood apple leaves, bark, and roots can treat snakebites and other venomous wounds
  • The fruit pulp is also used as a household cleaner
  • The rind of the fruit yields an oil that is used to make fragrances and to produce a dye used on fabrics

Precautions/Side Effects/Warnings

  • Eating too much wood apple can result in constipation, flatulence, and other digestive problems.
  • Patients with thyroid problems should also avoid eating wood apple as should pregnant and nursing women.