Botanical Name : Ziziphus mauritiana
Species: Z. mauritiana
Common Names: Chinese date Ber, Chinee apple, Jujube, Indian plum, Regi pandu, Indian jujube and masau.
While the better-known, smooth-leaved Chinese jujube (Ziziphus jujuba Mill.) of the family Rhamnaceae, is of ancient culture in northern China and is widely grown in mild-temperate, rather dry areas, of both hemispheres, the Indian jujube, Z. mauritiana Lam. (syn. Z. jujuba L.) is adapted to warm climates. It is often called merely jujube, or Chinese date, which leads to confusion with the hardier species. Other English names are Indian Plum, Indian cherry and Malay jujube. In Jamaica it may be called coolie plum or crabapple; in Barbados, dunk or mangustine; in Trinidad and Tropical Africa, dunks; in Queensland, Chinee apple. In Venezuela it is ponsigne or yuyubo; in Puerto Rico, aprin or yuyubi; in the Dominican Republic, perita haitiana; in the French-speaking West Indies, pomme malcadi, pomme surette, petit pomme, liane croc chien, gingeolier or dindoulier. In the Philippines it is called manzana or manzanita (“apple” or “little apple”); in Malaya, bedara; in Indonesia and Surinam, widara; in Thailand, phutsa or ma-tan; in Cambodia, putrea; in Vietnam, tao or tao nhuc. In India it is most commonly known as ber, orbor.
Bengali Name : Kul
Habitat : The species is believed to have originated in Indo-Malaysian region of South-East Asia. It is now widely naturalised throughout the Old World tropics from Southern Africa through the Middle East to the Indian Subcontinent and China, Indomalaya, and into Australasia and the Pacific Islands. It can form dense stands and become invasive in some areas, including Fiji and Australia and has become a serious environmental weed in Northern Australia.
Z. mauritiana is a medium-sized spiny, evergreen shrub or small tree that grows vigorously and has a rapidly developing taproot, a necessary adaptation to drought conditions. The species varies widely in height, from a bushy shrub 1.5 to 2 m tall, to a tree 10 to 12 m tall with a trunk diameter of about 30 cm. Z. mauritiana may be erect or wide-spreading, with gracefully drooping thorny branches, zigzag branchlets, thornless or set with short, sharp straight or hooked spines.
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The leaves are alternate, ovate or oblong elliptic with rounded apex, with 3 depressed longitudinal veins at the base. The leaves are about 2.5 to 3.2 cm long and 1.8 to 3.8 cm wide having fine tooth at margin. It is dark-green and glossy on the upper side and pubescent and pale-green to grey-green on the lower side. Depending on the climate, the foliage of the Z. mauritiana may be evergreen or deciduous.
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The flowers are tiny, yellow, 5-petalled and are usually in twos and threes in the leaf axils. Flowers are white or greenish white and the fruits are orange to brown, 2–3 cm long, with edible white pulp surrounding a 2-locular pyrene.
This quick growing tree starts producing fruits within three years. The fruit is a soft, juicy, drupe that is 2.5 cm diameter though with sophisticated cultivation the fruit size may reach up to 6.25 cm long and 4.5 cm wide. The form may be oval, obovate, round or oblong; the skin smooth or rough, glossy, thin but tough. The fruit ripen at different times even on a single tree. Fruits are first green, turning yellow as they ripen. The fully mature fruit is entirely red, soft, juicy with wrinkled skin and has pleasant aroma. The ripe fruit is sweet and sour in taste. Both flesh texture and taste are reminiscent of apples. When under ripe the flesh is white and crispy, acid to subacid to sweet in taste. Fully ripe fruits are less crisp and somewhat mealy; overripe fruits are wrinkled, the flesh buff-coloured, soft, spongy and musky. At first the aroma is apple like and pleasant but it becomes peculiarly musky when overripe. There is a single, hard, oval or oblate, rough central stone which contains 2 elliptic, brown seeds, 1/4 in (6mm) long.
In India, there are 90 or more cultivars differing in the habit of the tree, leaf shape, fruit form, size, color, flavor, keeping quality, and fruiting season. Among the important cultivars, eleven are described in the encyclopaedic Wealth of India: ‘Banarasi (or Banarsi) Pewandi’, ‘Dandan’, ‘Kaithli’ (‘Patham’), ‘Muria Mahrara’, ‘Narikelee’, ‘Nazuk’, ‘Sanauri 1’, ‘Sanauri 5’, ‘Thornless’ and ‘Umran’ (‘Umri’). The skin of most is smooth and greenish-yellow to yellow.
In India, the tree does best on sandy loam, neutral or slightly alkaline. It also grows well on laterite, medium black soils with good drainage, or sandy, gravelly, alluvial soil of dry river-beds where it is vigorously spontaneous. Even moderately saline soils are tolerated. The tree is remarkable in its ability to tolerate water-logging as well as drought.
Propagation is most commonly from seed, where pretreatment is beneficial. Storage of the seed for 4 months to let it after-ripen improves germination. The hard stone restricts germination and cracking the shell or extraction of seeds hastens germination. Without pretreatment the seeds normally germinate within six weeks whereas extracted seeds only need one week to germinate
Seedlings to be used as rootstock can be raised from seed. Several studies indicate that germination can be improved by soaking seeds in sulfuric acid. Germination time can also be shortened to 7 days by carefully cracking the endocarp. Ber seedlings do not tolerate transplanting, therefore the best alternatives are to sow the seeds directly in the field or to use polythene tubes placed in the nursery bed. Seedlings are ready for budding in 3 to 4 months. In addition, seedlings from the wild cultivars can be converted into improved cultivars by top-working and grafting. Nurseries are used for large scale seedling multiplication and graft production. The seedlings should also be given full light. The seedlings may need as long as 15 months in the nursery before planting in the field.
Scientists in India have standardised propagation techniques for Ber establishment. Budding is the easiest method of vegetative propagation used for improved cultivars. Different types of budding techniques have been utilised with ring-budding and shield-budding being the most successful. Wild varieties of ber are usually used as the root-stock. The most common being Z. rotundifolia in India and Z. spina-christi in Africa.
In India, the ripe fruits are mostly consumed raw, but are sometimes stewed. Slightly underripe fruits are candied by a process of pricking, immersing in a salt solution gradually raised from 2 to 8%, draining, immersing in another solution of 8% salt and 0.2% potassium metabisulphite, storing for 1 to 3 months, rinsing and cooking in sugar sirup with citric acid. Residents of Southeast Asia eat the unripe fruits with salt. Ripe fruits crushed in water form a very popular cold drink. Ripe fruits are preserved by sun-drying and a powder is prepared for out-of-season purposes. Acid types are used for pickling or for chutneys. In Africa, the dried and fermented pulp is pressed into cakes resembling gingerbread.
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Young leaves are cooked and eaten in Indonesia. In Venezuela, a jujube liqueur is made and sold as Crema de ponsigue. Seed kernels are eaten in times of famine.
The fruits are applied on cuts and ulcers; are employed in pulmonary ailments and fevers; and, mixed with salt and chili peppers, are given in indigestion and biliousness. The dried ripe fruit is a mild laxative. The seeds are sedative and are taken, sometimes with buttermilk, to halt nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pains in pregnancy. They check diarrhea, and are poulticed on wounds. Mixed with oil, they are rubbed on rheumatic areas.
The leaves are applied as poultices and are helpful in liver troubles, asthma and fever and, together with catechu, are administered when an astringent is needed, as on wounds. The bitter, astringent bark decoction is taken to halt diarrhea and dysentery and relieve gingivitis. The bark paste is applied on sores. The root is purgative. A root decoction is given as a febrifuge, taenicide and emmenagogue, and the powdered root is dusted on wounds. Juice of the root bark is said to alleviate gout and rheumatism. Strong doses of the bark or root may be toxic. An infusion of the flowers serves as an eye lotion.
Wood: The wood is reddish, close-grained, fine-textured, hard, tough, durable, planing and polishing well. It has been used to line wells, to make legs for bedsteads, boat ribs, agricultural implements, house poles, tool handles, yokes, gunstocks, saddle trees, sandals, golf clubs, household utensils, toys and general turnery. It is also valued as firewood; is a good source of charcoal and activated carbon. In tropical Africa, the flexible branches are wrapped as retaining bands around conical thatched roofs of huts, and are twined together to form thorny corral walls to retain livestock.
Leaves: The leaves are readily eaten by camels, cattle and goats and are considered nutritious. Analyses show the following constituents (% dry weight): crude protein, 12.9-16.9; fat, 1.5-2.7; fiber, 13.5-17.1; N-free extract, 55.3-56.7; ash, 10.2-11.7; calcium, 1.42-3.74; phosphorus, 0.17-0.33; magnesium, 0.46-0.83; potassium, 0.47-1.57; sodium, 0.02-0.05; chlorine, 0.14-0.38; Sulphur, 0.13-0.33%. They also contain ceryl alcohol and the alkaloids, protopine and berberine.
The leaves are gathered as food for silkworms.
Dye: In Burma, the fruit is used in dyeing silk. The bark yields a non-fading, cinnamon-colored dye in Kenya.
Nectar: In India and Queensland, the flowers are rated as a minor source of nectar for honeybees. The honey is light and of fair flavor.
Lac: The Indian jujube is one of several trees grown in India as a host for the lac insect, Kerria lacca, which sucks the juice from the leaves and encrusts them with an orange-red resinous substance. Long ago, the lac was used for dyeing, but now the purified resin is the shellac of commerce. Low grades of shellac are made into sealing wax and varnish; higher grades are used for fine lacquer work, lithograph-ink, polishes and other products. The trees are grown around peasant huts and heavily inoculated with broodlac in October and November every year, and the resin is harvested in April and May. The trees must be pruned systematically to provide an adequate number of young shoots for inoculation.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.