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How much do you know about this tropical fruit?
For those who are not familiar with Mangosteen, it is not mango and has no connection with mango at all. The fruit is between 2-3 inches round, similar to the size of tangerine or mandarin orange, with a dark purple/reddish rind and white flesh inside. Like mandarin orange, it is multi-segmented, usually in 4- 8 segments. The taste of the fleshy fruit is sweet and slightly acid with a delicious flavour. The rind which has the highest concentration of xanthones is bitter and unpleasant to be consumed and this is the part that we usually throw away. You will find out in Traditional Folk Used Remedies that in fact the rind is the most precious portion of the fruit. To open up the fruit, you have to twist or press the fruit until it breaks apart.
Another interesting fact about mangosteen is that each contains a type of “flower” at bottom of the fruit, just like the picture shown at the left. This “flower” indicates the number of segments the fruit contains. Those with the most segments have fewer seeds. To select the fleshy mangosteen with fewest seeds, choose the highest number of pedals the flower contains.
Mangosteen is a small and very slow-growing tropical evergreen tree. The average height of the tree is 30 to 45 feet, which is about the height of a 3 to 4 storeys building. The length of its leaves is up to 10 inches.
The mangosteen tree takes from 7-10 years to start yeilding fruits. Mangosteen fruit does not ripe well after harvesting, so it should be harvested when ripe or almost ripe. It is usually eaten fresh.
Mangosteen has cooling effect. Another common scene you may see in Southeast Asia is during the durian seasons, the stall which is selling durian would sell bunch of mangosteen along. The reason is while people eating durian which is heaty fruit, are advice to take mangosteen (cooling) after consuming durian to neutralize the effect of heatiness results from eating durian. If not, you will get sore throat easily if one over consume durian.
The mangosteen received its Latin name from Laurent Garcin, an eighteenth- century French physician, botanist and explorer who travelled in India and Southeast Asia. He wrote, “One may eat a great deal of this fruit without any inconvenience, and it is the only one which sick people may be allowed to eat without any scruple. It is very wholesome, refreshing and more cordial than strawberry.”
The fruit is native to Southeast Asia region. For centuries, the dried mangosteen rind is used to treat dysentery, diarrhea, pain, ulcers and infections. Made into an ointment, mangosteen rind powder is used to treat skin disorders such as eczema and other skin disorders. However, the most common way of preparation was a tea, made by grinding the rind and boiling in water. It can be consumed or used topically. The records regarding the medicinal application can be traced back to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.).
The following are some of the mangosteen facts with regards to the used of mangosteen by traditional folks according to the geographical regions:
David A. Morton, Ph.D., The Xanthone Effect, Orem, Utah, USA, Sound Concepts, 2005.
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