An encyclopedia of edible fruits of the world.



JAMNU_Syzigium fruiticosum

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Syzigium fruiticosum)

A tree of jamnu

English name: Wild jamun.

            This is a large evergreen tree.  It grows mostly wild in North India but is also planted along the roads or as a wind break around the orchards.

A close up of a jamnu tree

            The fruits are edible but smaller in size than jamun (Syzigium cumunii).  These are shaped like dates and dark purple in colour.  The flesh is also purple and is somewhat astringent at maturity.  Some seedlings may bear larger fruits too.

Jamnu fruits

            The fruits are collected by villagers or petty traders.  There is a lot of demand for the seeds which are prescribed in Ayurveda as a medicine for diabetes.  Sometimes the fruits are dried by these traders alongwith the pulp for sale to the dealers of Indian herbal drugs.

WHITE APPLE_Syzigium eucalyptoides

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Syzigium eucalyptoides)

A tree of white apple

Family: Myrtaceae

Synonym: Syzygium eucalyptoides ssp. eucalyptoides; Syzygium eucalyptoides ssp. bleeseri.

Other names:  White bush apple

White apple is a native of Australia. This fruit is found growing wild in North Western Australia to Central Cape York Peninsula.  It can be seen there in open woodlands, seasonally flooded depressions and along rivers and streams.

            The fruits from white apple trees bear edible fruits which have been one of the popular sources of food of the Australian aboriginals.  It is rarely known outside Australia.


A small evergreen tree, upto 6 m tall.

            Leaves long, narrow and tapered on ssp. eucalyptoides and broad in ssp. bleeseri.

            Flowers white cream, showy, stamens numerous.

White apple flowers

            Fruits white, edible.


White apple fruits are edible and have been a source of subsistence food for aboriginals for ages.

Fruits of white apple


So far no attempt has been made to domesticate this wild growing fruit and it is found in wild only. 

JAMUN_Syzigium cumunii

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Syzigium cumunii)

A tree of jamun 

Family: Myrtaceae

Jamun is indigenous to India.  Its tree is tall and evergreen.  Therefore It isgenerally grown as avenue tree or as wind break.  Though the fruits are liked by all and sell at a high price, but it is still not grown as an orchard tree.  Jamun is found all over India.

Jamun fruits

            Jamun fruits are a good source of iron and are said to be useful in the troubles of heart and liver.  The seeds of jamun are an effective medicine against diabetes and their powder is widely used in India to control diabetes

Climate and soil

Since jamun  is a hardy fruit, it can be grown under adverse soil and climate conditions.  It thrives well under both tropical and subtropical climate.  It requires dry weather at the time of flowering and fruit setting.  Early rains are beneficial for better growth, development and ripening of fruit. Young plants are susceptible to frost. 

Jamun fruits being sold in a small town market of India

            The jamun trees can be grown on a wide range of soils-calcareous, saline sodic soils and marshy areas.  Deep loam and well-drained soils are, however, the most ideal.  It does not like very heavy and light sandy soils. 


There is no improved variety for commercial cultivation.  The most common type grown in north India is known as Raja jamun.  This is a large-fruited type having oblong fruits of deep purple colour.  A type having large- sized fruits is known as Paras in Gujarat.  Another type found in Varanasi has no seed.  A selection with desirable traits has been located by the agricultural university at Faizabad.  It has been named by them as Narendra Jamun 6.


Jamun is propagated both by seeds as well as vegetatively.  Narendra Jamun 6 is usually multiplied by seeds.  The seeds have no dormancy; hence fresh seeds can be sown (within 10-15 days) 4-5 cm deep at a distance of 25cm x15 cm.  The seeds germinate in10-15 days after sowing.  The seedlings become ready for transplanting in spring or next monsoon.  Its seeds show polyembrony up to 30-40%.  Therefore nucellar seedlings can be used to produce true –to-type plants.         

            Seedling plants bear fruits of variable size and quality.  Therefore, vegetative method is desirable for propagation of improved or selected types.  Budding is most successful.  It is done on one-year old rootstock having about 10 mm thickness.  Patch and forkert methods of budding give more than 70% success if performed in March.  In low rainfall area, July –August is ideal time for budding. 



Pits of 1m x 1m x 1m size are dug 10 m apart for seedling trees and 8m apart for budded plants. Pit digging should be completed before the onset of the monsoon or spring season.  They should be filled with a mixture of topsoil and well- rotten farmyard manure or compost in 3:1 ratio.  Monsoon season (July-September) is ideal time of planting.  But it can also be planted with a good survival rate in spring (February-March) if irrigation facilities are available.  About 100 -150 plants are required for planting a hectare land.

Training and pruning

Young plants need training for the development of framework, keep the main stem or trunk clean up to a height of 60-90 cm from the ground level by removing the basal branches and sprouts.  Jamun plants do not require any pruning except removing diseased, dry and crisscross twigs. 

Manuring and fertilization

In pre bearing period, 20-25 kg well rotten farmyard manure or compost/plant/ year should be applied.  For bearing trees, this dose should be increased up to 50- 60kg/plant/ year.  The ideal time for applying organic manure is a month before flowering.  Grown up trees should be applied 500 kg N, 600gand 300g K /plant /year.  This should be spread near the canopy of the plant and mixed in soil by hoeing. 


Green manuring  can be done during the rainy season.  Intercropping  karaunda or phalsa or seasonal vegetable crops in initial years between the rows or interspaces can be done.  Sprouts arising from base of its plants should be removed timely and the plantation should be kept weed-free.  Jamun is a cross- pollinated crop. Hence keeping of honey-bees near the plantation is beneficial for maximum fruit set and productivity. 


Irrigation should be given just after manuring.  Young plants require 6-8 irrigations for better growth.  In bearing trees, irrigation should be given from September to October for better fruit bud formation and May to June for better development of fruits.  Normally 5-6 irrigations are required. 

Harvesting and postharvest management

Seedling trees start bearing at the age of 9-10 years, whereas budded ones take 5-6years.   Flowering starts during March and continues up April in north Indian conditions.  Fruits ripen during June- July or with the onset of rains.  It takes about 3-5 months to ripen after full bloom.  Fruits change their colour from green to deep red or bluish black.  This is a non climacteric fruit hence it des not ripen after harvesting.  Fully ripe fruits are harvested daily by hand picking or by shaking the branches and collecting the fruits on a polythene sheet.  Jamun trees need a number of pickings, since all fruits do not ripen at a time.  The average yield of fully grown budded and seedling trees is 50-70 kg and 80-100 kg /plant /year. 

            Jamun fruits are highly perishable. They can be stored only up to  2 days at ambient temperature.  Precooled fruits packed in perforated polythene bags can be stored for 3 weeks at 8-10 C and 85-95% humidity. 

            There is no standard practice for grading of fruits.  Blemished or bruised fruits must be sorted out before packing.  Fruits are normally packed in bamboo baskets and transported to local markers.  In the market, fruits are sold on green leaves or on pieces of newspaper.  The fruits prepacked in leaf cup covered with perforated polythene bags have little or no damage, during handling.  Handling of fruits during transit from market to home is also easier in this container. 

            Jamun fruits can be processed into excellent quality  fermented beverages such as vinegar and cider , and non-fermented ready-to-serve  beverages and squashes.  A good quality jelly can also be prepared from its fruits.  The seeds can be processed into powder which is very useful to cure diabetes.  These have a ready market.

Physiological   disorder

Heavy drop of flowers and fruits has been observed in jamun at various stages.  About 50% flowers drop within the 3-4 weeks of flowering.  It occurs at very young stage during 5-7 weeks of full bloom.   The problem of flower and fruit drop can be minimized by spraying of GA3 (60ppm) twice, one at full bloom and other 15days  after  fruit set. 


Dr. I.S. Singh
Professor of Horticulture
Narendra Dev University of Agriculture & Technology
Faizabad  UP  224229

UNCHANA_Syzigium bracteatum

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Syzigium bracteatum)

 A flower and leaves of unchana

Family: Myrtaceae

Synonym: Eugenia bracteata

Other names: sagarabatua, misi-ia-thap, lukluki-jam.

            Unchana is a shrub or small tree, found in the East Indian states Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya and also in Tamil Nadu in South India upto an elevation of 900 m.  It also grows in Nepal where they call it harch.

            Unchana is cultivated in many parts of India as an ornamental plant.  It bears handsome white flowers.

            The fruits are globose berries, orange or red in colour having a persistent calyx.

            The fruits are eaten when ripe.  These are available through out the year.

MUNGA_Synsepalum subcordatum

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Synsepalum subcordatum)

 A tree of munga

Family: Sapotaceae

Other names: Giant miracle fruit

Munga or giant miracle fruit is also a native of West Africa like its more famous relative miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum).  This fruit, however, has a much taller plant.  Moreover, some people are of the view that it does not have that strong effect on desensitizing the sour taste perceiving taste buds of the human tongue. But still it does make sour limes or sour apples taste sweet.


A large shrub or small tree, upto 10 m tall;

            Leaves, lanceolate, large, 20-30 cm,

            Flowers cauliflorous, occurring in bunches, about 1 cm wide,

 flowers of munga

            Fruit nearly round, 2.5 cm wide, thin skinned, red or yellow, about ¼ cm wide nearly translucent flesh which is sweet and tasty when ripe.

            Seed large, occupying most space of fruit.


New plants of munga are raised from seed only.  The seedlings may take 2-5 years for coming into bearing.

            Some taxonomists who have carried out detailed studies on munga tree have further classified it into four types:

1)     Water munga: the largest of the munga trees, it is found growing near water. The fruit is heart-shaped and comes in colors from red to yellow.

2)     Small forest munga: a small tree with shorter leaves, subsequently, the fruits are small too, about the size of the end of your little finger.

3)     Village munga: curiously, found mainly in village settings. This red fruit is twice the size of the small forest munga and is the S. subcordatum.

4)     Large forest Munga: a robust (20m) tree with abrupt oblanceolate leaves and dark red fruit (3cmx 2cm). It can withstand 6 months of drought.


Munga fruits are sweet and edible. The fruit has a unique glyco protein that inhibits tastebuds’ perception of sour taste for half an hour to a couple of hours. Therefore eating munga enhances flavor of grapefruit, strawberries, and makes beer taste like a malta soft drink. This fruit has successfully been used as an appetite stimulant for persons taking chemotherapy medicines.

Fruits of munga


Munga is often planted by people in home gardens as a sample plant because of its interesting property of making sour fruits taste sweet.  All the family enjoy its tricky entertaining quality.

            Munga is basically a tropical plant, so naturally it will not withstand cold.  It will not fruit in case the winter temperature goes below10 C.  However, if the location is suitable and the plant starts fruiting, then a single mature tree can produce upto one thousand fruits.

            Propagation is by seed only.

MRACLE FRUIT_Synsepalum dulcificum

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Synsepalum dulcificum)

A tree of miracle fruit

Family: Sapotaceae

Other names: Aasa, taami


Miracle fruit is a very interesting small fruit.  It bears small elongated berries.  If one eats a berry of this fruit, a small miracle happens.  The taste buds of your tongue get confused and if you are given a lemon to eat, you will taste it sweet.  The sour taste would be entirely gone.  Similarly, if you given an apple of some sour variety.  You will taste it sweet.  That is why the fruit by christened “miracle fruit” by plant explorers in West Africa in 1700s.  The effect lasts for 30-40 minutes.

Leaves of miracle fruit

            Miracle fruit is a native of West Africa.  It has reached all parts of the world and is grown mostly as sample plant or for fun in hoes.


An evergreen shrub growing upto 5 m in its native habitat and 1-1.5 m at other places.

            Leaves simple, elongated, alternate,  5-10 cm long, 2-3.7 cm wide, 3-5 leaves clustered at branch terminals, deep green

            Flowers small, 5-6 mm wide, white.

Miracle fruit fruits on tree

             Fruit a small, bright red, ellipsoid, flashy berry, 2.5 cm long.

            Seed 1.


The tribals of West Africa eat a fruit of two in case the food they are going to eat is state and

Miracle fruit fruits


Miracle fruit is not cultivated on commercial scale.  However, it is quite popular with home gardeners because of its interesting effect.  So it is planted as a sample plant in gardens and as potted plant in the homes.

            Miracle fruit is a tropical fruit and if planted does not perform well if grown at colder places.  The plant may keep growing but will not fruit at all even if planted indoors.  So it has to be at the right place if one wants to get fruits.

            New plants are raised from seeds which are not very user friendly and take long to, come out.

            The plant grows best in soils with a pH as low as 4.5 to 5.8, in an environment free from frost and in partial shade with high humidity. It is tolerable to drought, full sunshine and slopes.

            The seedlings start bearing after three years.  They blossom and bear fruits 3-4 times a year.  If the climate is favourable, then miracle fruit is a prolific bearer.

MONKEY ORANGE_Strychnos spinosa

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Strychnos spinosa)

A tree of monkey orange

Family: Loganiaceae

Synonyms: Brehmia spinosa, Strychnos carvalhoi, Strychnos djalonis, Strychnos gilletti, Strychnos laxa, Strychnos lokuma, 
                  Strychnos schweinfurthii, Strychnos tonga.      

Common names: Spiny monkey-orange, green monkey orange, doringklapper, massala, morapa, umkwakw.

Monkey orange is a tree indigenous to tropical and subtropical Africa which bears juicy, sweet-sour, yellow fruits containing numerous hard brown seeds. In Tropical Africa, this fruit grows in Eastern Cape to Kwazulu-Natal, Mozambique and inland to Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Northern Botswana and Northern Namibia and north to tropical Africa.

Monkey orange fruits

            This fruit has now travelled to other parts of the world too.  It has recently been introduced into Israel for trial as a potential new commercial crop.

Botanic description:

Monkey orange is a thorny shrub or small tree, 1-9 m in height. Bark grey, rough, tends to flake in rectangular segments but is not deeply fissured or corky; branchlets rather pale and thin, with or without short hairs, with hooked thorns; slash yellowish with green margin. Leaves elliptic, ovate to almost circular, 1.5-9 x 1.2-7.5 cm, light to dark green and glossy at the base; veins pale green and curving along the margin; apex tapering to rounded, sometimes notched; base tapering, rounded or slightly lobed; margin entire, inclined to be wavy; petiole 2-10 mm long. 

Leaves of a monkey orange tree

Flowers creamy green, up to 6 mm long, in compact heads about 3.5-4 cm, terminal on short lateral twigs, densely crowded together on short stalks about 10 mm long.

Monkey orange flowers

Fruit spherical, woody shelled, 5-12 cm in diameter, deep yellow to yellow-brown when mature, contains many flat seeds.


Fruit is edible and is used as a supplementary source of food by rural people during times of shortage.  The fruit is often sun dried as a food preserve. However, he seeds should be avoided though as they are poisonous or could have purgative effects.

The wood is used for general carpentry. Timber from this tree is also used to produce implement handles, fighting sticks and hut poles. It is also used for carving.

The leaves, roots and fruit (seeds) are used medicinally. Some people use root infusions as a treatment for snakebite. Others use the bark and unripe fruit. It is believed that the presence of strychnine in the bark and unripe fruit along with other alkaloids are responsible for helping overcome the venom of certain snakes, such as Mamba. A decoction of the leaf or root is used as an analgesic in Central Africa.

The dried fruit, after the seeds are removed, are often used as sounding-boxes for musical instruments such as the marimba. They are also carved and sold as curios.


            Monkey orange tree looks attractive with its dark green glossy leaves and the bright yellow fruits.  Though it is a deciduous plant, but the autumn foliage, which develops an attractive yellow colour, also looks pleasant.  So the plant is also quite suitable as a border or fence tree.  It is quite hardy plant and can grow even in poor and rocky soils.

            This plant can be multiplied from seed.


By parmarch28/12/20180

(Streblus asper)

A portion of Siamese rough bush tree

Family: Moraceae

English name: Siamese rough-bush

Other names: Sehora, karora, jindi.

Siamese rough bush is a small tree found in tropical countries,such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.  In India, this plant is found growing throughout the lower Himalayas and also in Peninsular India. The fruits are edible and popularly eaten by local people.  But it is more important as a medicinal plant. 

Fruits of Siamese rough bush


A evergreen shrub or gnarled tree upto 15 m high and 1.5 m in girth, having a clear bole of 4-7 m; bark light grey, bluish grey or silvery brown with faint ridges, rough when old, laticiferous, very fibrous.

            Leaves variable in shape, rough.

Siamese rough bush leaves

            Flowers unisexual; male heads globose, yellowish green, minute; female flowers solitary or 2-4 together, inconspicuous.

Siamese rough bush flowers

            Fruit a berry, 1 seeded, pea sized, yellow when ripe, succulent, loosely enclosed in the large persistent periant

            Seeds smooth, round and greenish white.


The fruits are sweet and are eaten. 

            Tender leaves are lopped and used as a fodder for cattle and elephants. 

            The twigs are chewed to make brushes and are said to cure pyorrhea.

Medicinal uses:

In India, paste of leaves is applied to swellings and  buboes, and is given to stop excessive perspiration.  An infusion of leaves is taken as a substitute for tea.  A poultice of the roots is applied to ulcers, sinuses, inflamed swellings and boils.  The powdered root prescribed in dysentery. 

            Latex of this plant possesses astringent and antiuseptic properties and is applied to sore heels, chapped hands and glandular swellings. 

            Seeds are said to be useful in piles and diarrhea.  A paste of seeds is applied in leucoderma.


The trees of Siamese rough bush grow only in wild and are not planted yet.

KEPEL_Stelechocarpus burahol

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Stelechocarpus burahol)

A tree of kepel

Family: Annonaceae

Synonyms: Uvaria burahol.

Other names: Burahol

Kepel is found in the Malesia region of South East Asia.  It has also been introduced into Australia and the Philippines.  This fruit is, however, under cultivation in Java only where the fruit is also sold in local markets.  Javanese people have a strong liking for this fruit.

Flowers of kepel

Kepel leaves


A large erect evergreen tree, upto 25 m tall, trunk upto 40 cm in dia.

            Leaves elliptic-oblong to ovate-lanceolate, 12-27 cmx5-9 cm, dark green glabrous. Thin, leathery; petiole upto 1.5 cm long.

            Flowers unisexual, green turning whitish, fascicled on tubercles; male flowers on upper trunk and older branches, 8-16 together, upto 1 cm in diameter; female flowers only on the lower part of the trunk upto 3 cm in diameter.

Kepel fruits

            Fruit brown, 62-105 g, with 1-13 berry-like carpels; fruit stalk upto 8 cm long; ripe carpels almost globose, brownish, 5-6 cm wide; pulp orange, juicy and edible.

            Seeds ellipsoid, 4-6, upto 3 cm long.


Ripe fruits are eaten fresh.  The pulp is said to impart the fragrance of violets to breath, sweat and even urine.  It is also reported to be cause temporary sterility among women.  Hence it was used by the aristocratic ladies of Java as a perfume and a family planning agent.

            It is further said that the use of kepel fruits was traditionally restricted to consorts of the sultans of Yogya in Java, Indonesia.

            Kepel is a handsome ornamental tree with beautifully pigmented leaves which keep changing colour with age and maturity.  The is used for making household articles.


Kepel trees are propagated from seed taken from mature fruits.  The seed is slow to germinate and some people even recommend scarification.  The seedlings are planted 8-10 m apart.  The trees take 6-9 years for coming into bearing.

            Kepel seems to be an interesting plant from the information already available about it.  It should therefore be planted and properly tested for verifying its qualities.  

IMBU_Spondias tuberosa

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Spondias tuberosa)

A tree of imbu

Family: Anacardiaceae.

Other names: Umbu, Brazil plum.

Imbu is native to the dry plains of the northeast Brazil.  It is gathered in large quantities from the wild by the local people and is a very important food resource for them.  It is also said to be the tastiest fruit in the entire genus Spondias. 

Fruit bearing in imbu

            Imbu has caught the attention of many organizations during the recent decades and has been recommended for domestication and cultivation as a commercial orchard crop.


A low-branching tree 4-5 m high, spreading to a width of 9 m.

            Leaves pinnate, compound, having 5 to 9 oblong-ovate leaflets which are 2.5-4.5 cm long, sometimes faintly toothed.

            Flowers, small, white and 4 to 5-petalled, borne on 10-15 cm long panicles.

Imbu fruits

            Fruit, more or less oval in shape, 4 cm long with greenish yellow, fairly thick, though skin and tender melting pulp; taste acid when unripe but sweet with a distinct aroma when ripe.

            Stone adherent, 2  cm long.


Imbu is a very prolific bearer and bears very heavily.  A grown up tree can produce up to 300 kilos of fruit in a single harvest when it reaches maturity The fruits are very much liked by the local people and gathered from the wild in large quantities during the season.  These are then sold in village markets. 

            The fruits are eaten fresh.  Their juice is blended with milk and sugar and made into ice cream, jelly, fruit cheese and many preparations. 

            Imbu tree has a shallow system of soft, tuberous roots called cunca, which store much water.  These are consumed in emergency as a source of water.  The roots of imbu tree can hold upto 3000 litres of water during dry season. 


Imbu is a plant that can grow under very harsh conditions.  The trees are raised from seed.  The seedlings have a long juvenile phase and come into bearing in 8-10 years.

            As the imbu trees in nature are all seedlings, so there exists a considerable variation among them regarding fruit size and other characters.  Therefore there exists a great scope for clonal selection in this wild growing fruit.

            The imbu offers is a very potential new fruit for arid tropical regions due to its ability to grow and bear heavy crop even under the harshest of conditions.

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