MESS APPLE
(Bellucia grossulariodies)

 

 

 A plant of mess apple

 

Family: Melastomatceae

Other names: Chig-a-nit.

 

 

Mess apple is a fruit from tropical Central America found growing wild from Southern Mexico to Amazonian Brazil and Peru upto an elevation of 400 m.  Though this which is quite refreshing is eaten by local people, yet it is not known much outside its area of occurrence.  Usually it grows as an understory tree.

            Mess apple is cultivated but on a very less scale.

Description:

Small tree, to 5 (10) m tall, glabrous except sometimes for puberulence on stems and lower leaf surfaces.

            Petioles to 6 cm, stout; blades broadly elliptic, obtuse to short-­acuminate, obtuse to rounded at base, 15-35 cm long, 10-20 cm wide, entire, pliveined, the major veins 3-5, soon becoming glabrous.

Mess apple flowers

            Cymes axillary, frequently on leafless branches and on trunk; pedicels 1-2.4 cm long; flowers with an intense, sweet aroma at anthesis, ca 6 cm wide; hypanthium hemispherical; calyx 1.5-2 cm long, hyaline, dehiscing irregularly at anthesis and falling free from the hypanthium; petals 5 or 6 (to 8), oblong, thick, white or pink, to 3 cm long, broader and often very oblique at apex, spreading at anthesis; stamens 10-16, to 1.8 mm long; filaments about as long as anthers; an­thers obovate, turned inward, yellowish, with 2 small terminal pores, both the thecae and connective swollen; ovary inferior; style straight, stout, at first medially posi­tioned, soon pushed to one side of flower; stigma large, to 4 mm wide, capitate, held well above stamens.

            Berries ± globose, 3 cm wide, pale green at maturity.

            Seeds tan, numerous, 0.7 mm long, about twice as long as broad. Shattuck 1119.

Utilization:

Mess apple fruits are mostly gathered from wild and eaten by the local people.  Though they are not very tasty but as they are refreshing, so these are liked by all and are therefore quite popular.

Fruits of mess apple

            Flowers of mess apple are attractive as well as pleasantly fragrant.  So it is also planted as an ornamental tree.

            Mess apple wood is used for making low value items such as pencils, boxes, toys and toothpicks.  The wood is used for fuel and making charcoal

 

Cultivation:

Mess apple is basically a tree from humid region.  So it prefers to grow in areas that are not cold and also receive a lot of rainfall.

            New trees are raised from seed which are very tiny and therefore handled with care right from extraction till sowing in seed beds.  The soil in beds should not be allowed to dry.  Germination starts in a few days.  The seedlings should be transferred to bags or pots after these are 4-5 cm tall.  They can be transferred to the final site after they have atoned a height of 20-30 cm.

            Bearing generally starts after 3-4 years.

 

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