Feronia limonia

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Local names:
Bengali (kait,kath bel,bela), Burmese (thibin,thanatka), English (elephant apple,wood-apple,monkey fruit,curd fruit), French (pomme de bois,citron des mois,pomme d' elephant), Hindi (bilin,kait,kaitha,bhenta,katbel,kavitha,nayi bel), Indonesian (kusta,ka

Feronia limonia is a deciduous, slow-growing, erect tree with a few upward-reaching branches bending outward near the summit where they are subdivided into slender branchlets drooping at the tips. Bark ridged, fissured and scaly; spines sharp, 2-5 cm long on some of the zigzag twigs.

Leaves alternate, 7.5-12.5 cm long, dark-green, leathery, often minutely toothed, blunt or notched at the apex, dotted with oil glands and slightly lemon-scented when crushed.

Flowers dull-red or greenish, to 1.25 cm wide, borne in small, loose, terminal or lateral panicles.

Fruit round to oval, 5-12.5 cm wide, with a hard, woody, greyish-white, scurfy rind about 6 mm thick, pulp brown, mealy, odorous, resinous, astringent, acid or sweetish, with numerous small, white seeds scattered through it. 

Feronia is a monotypic genus in the family Rutaceae. There are 2 forms, one with large, sweet fruits and the other with small, acid fruits.

Ecology

The wood-apple is native and common in dry plains. It prefers a monsoon climate with a distinct dry season. The tree grows up to an elevation of 450 m in the western Himalayas.

Native range
India, Sri Lanka

The wood-apple is native and common in dry plains. It prefers a monsoon climate with a distinct dry season. The tree grows up to an elevation of 450 m in the western Himalayas.

The wood-apple is generally grown from seeds. Multiplication may also be by root cuttings, air-layers, or by budding onto self-seedlings to induce dwarfing and precociousness.

  The rind must be cracked with a hammer. The scooped-out sticky pulp, is eaten raw with or without sugar, or is blended with coconut milk and palm-sugar syrup and drunk as a beverage, or frozen as an ice cream. It is also used in chutneys and for making jelly and jam. The pulp represents 36% of the whole fruit. The pectin content of the pulp is 3-5% (16% yield on dry-weight basis) and has potential for multiple uses. Seeds contain bland, non-bitter, oil high in unsaturated fatty acids.

The tree is lopped for fodder.

The wood serves as fuel.

Timber:  Wood is yellow-grey or whitish, hard, heavy, durable, and valued for construction, pattern-making, agricultural implements, rollers for mills, carving, rulers, and other products. 

Medicine: The fruit is used in India as a liver and cardiac tonic, and when unripe, as an astringent means of halting diarrhoea and dysentery and effective treatment for hiccough, sore throat and diseases of the gums. The pulp is poulticed onto bites and stings of venomous insects, as is the powdered rind.  Juice of young leaves is mixed with milk and sugar candy and given as a remedy for biliousness and intestinal troubles of children. The powdered gum, mixed with honey, is given to overcome dysentery and diarrhea in children.  Oil derived from the crushed leaves is applied on itch and the leaf decoction is given to children as an aid to digestion. Leaves, bark, roots and fruit pulp are all used against snakebite. The spines are crushed with those of other trees and an infusion taken as a remedy for menorrhagia. The bark is chewed with that of Barringtonia and applied on venomous wounds. 

Gum or resin:  The trunk and branches exude a white, transparent gum; especially following the rainy season utilized as a substitute for, or adulterant of gum arabic, and also in making artists' watercolors, ink, dyes and varnish. It consists of 35.5% ara

Ornamental:  F. limonia is planted as a roadside tree near villages.

The tree is cultivated along field boundaries.