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Elephant Apple

Introduction of Elephant Apple

            Scientific name - Dillenia indica

Elephant apple, binomially known as Dilleniaindica is an evergreen large sized shrub that belongs to the Dilleniaceae family. Elephant apple is quite popular and has a variety of species of it, the dillenia holds its roots native to the Southereastern parts of Asia. Mainly found in countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, parts of China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Elephant apple is known by many names across the globe, the most popular name being chalta.

Elephant apple being a long shrub bears leaves that grow 15-36 cms long with an uneven surface showcasing its veins impressed on top of it. The tree grows 15 meters tall and the branches of this tree is used to make firewood. The flower of this plant are visibly large and grow 15-20 cm in diameter each bearing five petals and multiple yellow stamens that attract the bees. The most important part of the tree is the fruit, elephant apple appears to be a large round fruit that's greenish yellow in color. Growing to a size of 5-12 cm diameter which is actually an aggregate of carpels. These carpels contain five seeds each embedded in the fleshy pulp.

This fruit is a hard large fruit that's mainly only accessible to the wilds in the forest. This fruit is a treat for megaberbivores. Megaherbivores are the category of herbivores that weigh more than 40 kilograms. Herbivores like Elephants, giraffes, rhinoceros, hippopotamus belong to the megaherbivores clan. According to a study released by ecologists Sekar&Sukumar conducted in Buxa tiger reserve it was found out that Asia elephants have a particular liking and fondness towards this hard fruit. They were also the seed dispenser in disguise that helped in propagation of this fruit. Unfortunately due to growing threat to the lives of Asian elephants and at the rapid rate of extinction this fruit has lost its seed dispenser. Then the plant resolved to its plan B where the fruit falls of the tree and the impact caused on the fall is immense and it leads to softening of the hard covering of the fruit. All this is done in order to make the fruit accessible to the smaller rodents who will carry forward the function of seed dispersal.

The cultivation of elephant apple depends from region to region. This crop is not cultivated for commercial purpose India. It follows a method of arbitrary cultivation carried on in a very small pocketed regions across the country. In dense forest mostly. Where as in countries like Bangladesh, it is vegetated like a crop under suitable climatic regions.

The flowers of this tree are aromatic in nature and resemble magnolia like flowers. They bloom for three weeks in June. This period can be extended from the month of may to the month of august. The fruits are borne during the time period of October to January.

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Nutritional Value of Elephant Apple

According to the book, "The Encyclopedia of Fruit and Nuts," the nutritional value per 100g of edible elephant apple flesh is:

Calories 59k
Protein .8%
Fat .2-2.5%
Fiber 2.1-2.5%
Ash 3.54%
Calcium 16mg
Phosphorous 26mg
Ascorbic Acid 4mg

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Health Benefits of Elephant Apple

Elephant's apple is a hard fruit that can be seen growing in swampy and semi tropical forests. They thrive the best in deep soil and places with humid atmosphere. Chalta is known to be rich in laxative properties that usually used to cure abdominal pain. The leaves of this trees are processed and dried to be used as a substitute for sand paper in polishing precious ivory and horns.

Medicinal properties of elephant apple

If we go back in time, we realize the importance of this wonder fruit. Known for its curative property elephant apple was used in preparing traditional medicine to cure ailments like nervousness, stomach upsets and fatigues.
This fruit gives an added beauty benefit too, rubbing the gummy substance extracted from the fruit on to the scalp will help the hair grow stronger and avoid hair shedding. This also helps in treating dandruff.

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Consumption of Elephant Apple

This fruit can be consumed once it is ripened and the fleshy sepals form the edible portion. This fruit though has abundant sugar in it, it still taste sour this is because of the predominance of acid present in the fruit that adds to the tangy flavor. Due to its strong flavor and pungent taste it is seldom eaten raw, it is mainly used in flavoring curries that is consumed as a local delicacy. Apart from that this fruit makes a key ingredient in making jams and jellies.
Elephant apple is a fruit rich in beta-carotene, vitamin B, vitamin C, thiamine, and riboflavin. It does not stop with that it is also rich in carbohydrates and proteins.
In Indonesia where elephant apple is quite popular and is eaten in the breakfast by mixing chalta with honey. While on the other hand people in Thailand enjoy chalta leaves in salads. Since it is equally popular in India, the Indians add chalta in chutneys. The pulp of the fruit is extracted and added to make a savory chutney. Consuming a mixture of the bark and the stem of chalta has proven to reduce heart palpitations to a large extent.

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Uses of Elephant Apple

The elephant apple has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cancer-fighting properties. The fruit has been used to treat fever, digestive problems, and skin conditions. It is also believed to boost immunity and improve the body's ability to fight off infections. In Ayurvedic medicine, the elephant apple is used to treat respiratory conditions, fever, cough, and cold. It is also believed to help with liver and kidney health. The juice of the fruit can be applied topically to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

The elephant apple can also be used to make a variety of dishes. The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be used to make jams, jellies, chutneys, and juices. The fruit can also be used to make wine, vinegar, and pickles. The elephant apple has a variety of culinary uses. The fruit can be used in salads, soups, stews, curries, and desserts. The fruit can also be used to make juices and smoothies. The fruit can also be dried and used as a flavoring for tea.

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