Overview

Brief Summary

Indian bael (Aegle marmelos) is a deciduous tree, 6 to 8 meters in height with trifoliate aromatic leaves. Its flowers are nearly 2 cm wide, borne in clusters, sweet scented and greenish white. The 5 petals are oblong ovoid, blunt, thick, pale greenish white in color and dotted with oil glands. Stamens are numerous, sometimes coherent in bundles. Bael fruits are 5 to 7.5 cm in diameter, oblong pyriform in shape, with a gray or yellow rind. The pulp is sweet and thick, a yellowish- orange to brown color. It takes about 11 months for the fruit to ripen on the tree and they can reach the size of a large grapefruit and some are even larger. The shell is so hard it must be cracked with a hammer or machete. During the bael season there is danger from falling fruits which are very hard and heavy. They can cause injury and property damage. The fruit is eaten fresh or dried. If fresh, the juice is strained and sweetened to make a drink similar to lemonade. If the fruit is to be dried, it is usually sliced and sun-dried. The hard leathery slices are then simmered in water. The leaves and small shoots are eaten as salad greens. (Wikipedia, 2011) Indian bael is native to India, but has been naturalized throughout most southeastern Asian countries. It has been used in traditional medicine to treat a number of diseases in India. Various parts of the tree have been used for their supposed curative, pesticidal, and nutritive properties. The leaves and seed oil have pesticidal properties. Fresh half-ripe Bael fruit is mildly astringent and has been used to treat dysentery, diarrhea, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and dyspepsia. (Center for New Crops & Plant Products, 2011)

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Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

Notes: Cultivated
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Brief

Flowering class: Dicot Habit: Tree
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Distribution

"
Global Distribution

India and Sri Lanka; widely cultivated in South East Asia, Malesia, Tropical Africa and the United States

Indian distribution

State - Kerala, District/s: All Districts

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Maharashtra: Common throughout
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S and SW Yunnan [native to India].
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Distribution: Sub-Himalayan tract, from Jhelum eastward, Salt Range and lower Baluchistan, Burma, Indo-China, at ± 1200 m alt.
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Himalaya (Kashmir to Nepal), India, Burma, Indo-China, Malaysia. Widely cultivated.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Trees to 10 m tall; spines to 3 cm. Leaflet blades ovate to elliptic, 4-12 × 2-6 cm, base rounded to narrowly cuneate, margin crenulate, apex acuminate or sometimes acute. Calyx lobes ca. 1 mm. Petals white, ca. 1 cm. Stamens nearly as long as petals. Gynoecium ca. 6 mm. Fruit greenish yellow, 10-12 × 6-8 cm; mesocarp ca. 3 mm thick. Seeds ca. 8 mm. Fr. Oct. 2n = 18, 36.
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Description

Tree, c. 6 m tall, with spines c. 15 mm long, single or paired. Leaves petiolate. sparsely white pubescent; leaflets 3-5, the lower 2 subsessibie, ovate-lanceolate, subcrenulate, obtuse. Flowers greenish-white, fragrant. Pedicels pubescent. Sepals c. 3 mm, pubescent, deciduous. Petals 13 mm, oblong, fleshy, spreading. Stamens c. 50, free or in fascicles, filaments subulate. Ovary 10-22-locular; stigma capitate. Fruit 5-10 cm in diameter, greenish-yellow or greenish, globose to pyriform; rind 3 mm thick; pulp pale orange, mucilaginous, aromatic. Seeds flat, oblong, densely woolly, embedded in transparent sticky gum.
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Elevation Range

600-1100 m
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

"Tree to 12 m tall, deciduous; branchlets cylindric, sometimes slightly angled, glabrous; spines axillary, solitary or paired, straight, stout and sharp. Leaves alternate-3-foliolate, sometimes 5-foliolate, dimorphic; petioles terete to 6 cm long, glabrous or puberulous when young; leaflets subsessile, ovate-elliptic or elliptic-lanceolate, oblique at base, shallowly crenate-serrate at margin, tapering at apex, membranous, pellucid-punctate, pale green. Inflorescences axillary and terminal, racemose or corymbose, few-flowered, 4-5 cm long; peduncles densely puberulent; pedicels 2-4 mm long. Flowers bisexual, greenish white or yellow, fragrant. Calyx cupular, finely puberulent, caducous; lobes 4 or 5, 3-angled. Petals 5, ovate-oblong, subequal, ca 12 x 6 mm, spreading, glabrous, fleshy and white. Stamens numerous in 2 or 3 series, free or basally subconnate, unequal; filaments subulate, ca 7 mm long, glandular; anthers linear-oblong, ca 8 mm long. Disc glabrous, greenish. Ovary ovoid, 4-5 mm long, faintly ridged, 10-loculed; ovules many, 2-seriate; style short; stigma oblong, longitudinally grooved. Berries ovoid, 6-10 cm across, woody, yellowish, many seeded; seeds oblong and flat."
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Diagnostic

Habit: Tree
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Synonym

Crateva marmelos Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 444. 1753.
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Ecology

Habitat

General Habitat

Grown in temple premises and homesteads
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Cultivated in forests on slightly dry hillsides; 600-1000 m.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering and fruiting: March-May
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Flower/Fruit

Fl. Per.: May-June. Fr. Per.: November-December.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Aegle marmelos

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Aegle marmelos

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

Medicinal
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Wikipedia

Aegle marmelos

This article is about the tree. For the Biblical demon, see Baal (demon).

Aegle marmelos, commonly known as bael, Bengal quince,[1] golden apple,[1] stone apple, wood apple, bili,[2] is a species of tree native to India. It is present throughout Southeast Asia as a naturalized species.[3] The tree is considered to be sacred by Hindus. Its fruits are used in traditional medicine and as a food throughout its range.

Vernacular names[edit]

The edible fruit tree is called "belada mara" and the religious tree "bilva" or "bilpathre" in Kannada. The fruits are known as Belada Hannu (edible variety), Bilva (sacred variety) in Kannada, "bela" in Oriya and Maredu (in Telugu).

Botanical information[edit]

Bael is the only member of the monotypic genus Aegle.[3] It is a mid-sized, slender, aromatic, armed, gum-bearing tree growing up to 18 meters tall. It has a leaf with three leaflets.

Ecology[edit]

Bael occurs in dry forests on hills and plains of northern, central and southern India, Pakistan, southern Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. It is cultivated throughout India, as well as in Sri Lanka, the northern Malay Peninsula, Java, the Philippines, and Fiji. It has a reputation in India for being able to grow in places that other trees cannot. It copes with a wide range of soil conditions (pH range 5-10), is tolerant of waterlogging and has an unusually wide temperature tolerance (from -7°C to 48°C). It requires a pronounced dry season to give fruit.

A ripe bael fruit in India
Bael fruit

This tree is a larval foodplant for the following two Indian Swallowtail butterflies:

Fruit[edit]

The bael fruit has a smooth, woody shell with a green, gray, or yellow peel. It takes about 11 months to ripen on the tree and can reach the size of a large grapefruit or pomelo, and some are even larger. The shell is so hard it must be cracked with a hammer or machete. The fibrous yellow pulp is very aromatic. It has been described as tasting of marmalade and smelling of roses. Boning (2006) indicates that the flavor is "sweet, aromatic and pleasant, although tangy and slightly astringent in some varieties. It resembles a marmalade made, in part, with citrus and, in part, with tamarind."[4] Numerous hairy seeds are encapsulated in a slimy mucilage.

Uses[edit]

The fruit is eaten fresh or dried. If fresh, the juice is strained and sweetened to make a drink similar to lemonade. It can be made into sharbat (Hindi) or Bela pana (Oriya: ବେଲ ପଣା) or bel pana (Bengali: বেল পানা), a refreshing drink made of the pulp with water, sugar, and lime juice, mixed, left to stand a few hours, strained, and put on ice. One large bael fruit may yield five or six liters of sharbat.

Bili tree

If the fruit is to be dried, it is usually sliced and sun-dried. The hard leathery slices are then immersed in water.

The leaves and small shoots are eaten as salad greens.

The Tamil Siddhars call the plant koovilam (கூவிளம்) and use the fragrant leaves for medicinal purposes, including dyspepsia and sinusitis.[citation needed] A confection called ilakam (இளகம்) is made of the fruit and used to treat tuberculosis and loss of appetite.[5]

In the system of Ayurveda this drug finds several and frequent therapeutic uses in different forms and recipes. They are prescribed in a number of diseases such as gastro intestinal diseases, piles, oedema, jaundice, vomiting, obesity, pediatric disorders, gynecological disorders, urinary complaints and as a rejuvenative. Besides the wide medicinal utility the plant and its certain parts (leaves and fruits) are of religious importance since the tree is regarded as one of the sacred trees of Indian heritage.[6]

Aegeline (N-[2-hydroxy-2(4-methoxyphenyl) ethyl]-3-phenyl-2-propenamide) is a known constituent of the bael leaf and consumed as a dietary supplement for a variety of purposes.[7][8][9][10]

Religious significance-The Holy Bael[edit]

The fruit is also used in religious rituals. In Hinduism the tree is sacred. It is used in the worship of Shiva, who is said to favor the leaves. The tri-foliate form of leaves symbolize the trident that Shiva holds in his right hand. The fruits were used in place of coconuts before large-scale rail transportation became available. The fruit is said to resemble a skull with a white, bone-like outer shell and a soft inner part, and is sometimes called seer phael (head-fruit). However, it is quite likely that, the term 'Seer Phal' has coined from the Sanskrit term 'ShreePhal, which again is a common name for this fruit. Many Hindus have bael trees in their gardens.

In the traditional Newari culture of Nepal, the bael tree is part of a fertility ritual for girls known as the Bel baha. Girls are "married" to the bael fruit and as long as the fruit is kept safe and never cracks the girl can never become widowed, even if her human husband dies. This was seen to be protection against the social disdain suffered by widows in the Newari community.

Medicinal uses[edit]

Research has found the essential oil of the Bael tree to be effective against 21 types of bacteria.[11] It is prescribed for smooth bowel movement to patients suffering from constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.

Research also indicates that unripe Bael fruit is effective in combating giardia and rotavirus. While unripe Bael fruit did not show antimicrobial properties, it did inhibit bacteria adherence to and invasion of the gut (i.e. the ability to infect the gut). [12]

Local names[edit]

  • South-East Asia
    • Burmese: ဥသျှစ် /ou' shi'/ or /oʊʔ ʃiʔ/
    • Indonesian: Maja
    • Khmer: ព្នៅ /pnɨv/
    • Lao: ໝາກຕູມ /mȁːk tuːm/
    • Malay: pokok maja batu (tree)
    • Thai: มะตูม /matuum/ (tree: ต้นมะตูม /ton matuum/; fruit ลูกมะตูม luug matuum)
  • Indian Subcontinent
    • Assamese: বেল
    • Hindi: बेल (Sirphal)
    • Gujarati: બીલી
    • Urdu: (Bael)بیل, (Sirphal) سری پھل
    • Oriya: Baela ବେଲ
    • Bengali: বেল
    • Kannada: ಬೇಲದ ಹಣ್ಣು (edible variety)
    • Kannada: bilva (sacred variety)
    • Konkani: gorakamli
    • Malayalam: കൂവളം (koo-valam)
    • Marathi: बेल or कवीठ (Kaveeth)
    • Punjabi: Beel
    • Sanskrit : बिल्व
    • Sindhi: ڪاٺ گدرو
    • Sinhalese: බෙලි (Beli)
    • Tamil: வில்வம் (Vilvam)
    • Telugu: మారేడు (maredu)
    • Sir Phal (old Hindi)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "USDA GRIN Taxonomy". 
  2. ^ "Flowers of India". Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Purdue Horticulture". Hort.purdue.edu. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  4. ^ Boning, Charles (2006). Florida's Best Fruiting Plants: Native and Exotic Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc. p. 35. 
  5. ^ Raamachandran, J. Herbs of Siddha Medicines, The First 3D Book on Herbs, pp.16.
  6. ^ National R&D Facility for Rasayana
  7. ^ Riyanto, S; Sukari MA; Rahmani M; et al. (2001). "Alkaloids from Aegle marmelos (Rutacea).". Malaysian J Anal Sci. 7 2: 463–465. 
  8. ^ Lanjhiyana, S; Patra KC; Ahirwar D; et al. (2012). "A validated HPTLC method for simultaneous estimation of two marker compounds in Aegle marmelos (L.) Corr., (Rutaceae) root bark.". Der Pharm Lett. 4 1: 92–97. 
  9. ^ Govindachari, TR; Premila MS (1983). "Some alkaloids from Aegle marmelos.". Phytochem. 22 3: 755–757. 
  10. ^ Sharma, BR; Rattan RK; Sharma P (1981). Marmeline, an alkaloid, and other components of unripe fruits of Aegle marmelos. 20 11. pp. 2606–2607. 
  11. ^ Pattnaik, S; Subramanyam VR; Kole C. (1996). "Antibacterial and antifungal activity of ten essential oils in vitro". Microbios, 86 (349): 237–246. PMID 8893526. 
  12. ^ Brijesh, S; Daswani P; Tetali P; Antia N; Birdi T (2009). "Studies on the antidiarrhoeal activity of Aegle marmelos unripe fruit: Validating its traditional usage". BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 9 (47): 47. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-47. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

H.K.Bakhru (1997). Foods that Heal. The Natural Way to Good Health. Orient Paperbacks. ISBN 81-222-0033-8. 

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Notes

Comments

This species is used medicinally.
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Comments

The ‘bengal quince’ is frequently cultivated in the plains for its fruit. The pulp of fresh fruit can be used for making jams or sherbet. Dried pulp is used medicinally for the treatment for diarrhoea and dysentery. Also used in paints.
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