Garcinia Flowers Mangosteens


The Mangosteen family (Clusiaceae) includes a number of genera of plants, most of which are extreme tropicals, though a few will grow in southern Florida and Hawaii.They are grown mainly for their fruit, which has thick edible arils surrounding the seeds. Many are highly medicinal, and some are noted for powerful antioxidants. Recently, some in genus Garcinia have been strongly hyped by the weight loss industry, but legitimate studies have discredited that use. Many in this family also produce high quality timber.   Photo of Garcinia sessilis flowers by Tau`olunga distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.


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Genus Garcinia

Purple Mangosteen   -   [Garcinia mangostana]
Whole and Cut Mangosteens

The Purple Mangosteen is a rather picky tropical tree which only grows well in a few locations in Southeast Asia and Central Africa, though a few are grown in Hawaii. The tree may grow to 80 feet under the right conditions but will be killed by temperatures above 100°F/38°C or below 40°F/4.5°C, and it's very fussy about soil as well.

The photo specimens were purchased in February 2008 soon after the ban on fresh mangosteens was lifted - provided they were fumigated or subjected to irradiation sufficient to kill Asian fruit fly. Previously they were only available frozen. These were about 2-3/4 inches diameter and weighed 5-1/8 ounces. Yield is about 33%, and at US $4.50/pound for whole fruit that made them quite expensive.

The fruit is of excellent flavor, sweet and tangy, and is eaten fresh from the shell cut (or more properly broken) as shown in the photo. Segments may or may not include a seed and the seeds are edible after boiling or roasting. The number of petals on the flower end of the fruit will be the same as the number of segments within.

Canned mangosteen is easily available in the U.S. but not considered as good because the flavor is quickly degraded by canning heat.

The purplish fruit has a thin brittle shell and a thick fibrous rind which is very high in pectin. A jelly is made from it after bitter elements have been leached out with salt. The red juice of the rind is a dye that's nearly impossible to remove from fabric.

Mangosteen rind has long been used in China and Southeast Asia as an herbal medicine and now mangosteen juice (made from rind and pulp) is heavily promoted in the U.S. through sophisticated "Network Marketing" schemes. It sells for over US $1.00/ounce with implications it can relieve everything up to and including cancer. Claims for it's benefits are almost completely unconfirmed and it's extremely unlikely the juice can deliver anything like the benefits implied. It is, however, making a huge amount of money for its perpetrators (M2).

Kokum Phool   -   [Wild Mangosteen (English); Amsool, Aamsul, Bindin, Biran, Bhirand, Bhinda, Bhrinda, Brinda, Kokum, Kokam, Katambi, Panarpuli, Kudam Puli, Ratamba (India); Goraka (Sri Lanka); Garcinia indica]
Split dried Kokum Phool Fruit

Kokum is purple fruit used as a souring agent, usually in dried form, though a soft salt preserved form is common in India. It is common along the western coast of India where the tree is native, and takes the place tamarind fills elsewhere. It is used in other regions as well, particularly Sri Lanka and Malaysia where it is used in fish curries and is said to slow spoilage.

In general, whole pieces of the dried fruit rind are added to curries and similar dishes. It is also used, often in syrup form, to flavor summer beverages. The photo specimens, obtained from an Indian market in Los Angeles, were up to 1-1/8 inches in diameter.

Oil from the seeds remains solid at room temperature and is used for confectionery, cosmetics and medicinals. Various parts of the fruit and plant are used medicinally.   Details and Cooking.

Gummi-Gutta   -   [Gambooge, Brindleberry, Malabar Tamarind, Asam fruit; Kujee Thekera (Assam); Vadakkan puli (northern tamarind), Kudam puli (pot tamarind), Citrin Fruit; Kodumpulli, Fish Tamarind (Kerala); Punampuli, Kudampuli (Kodava); Goraka (Sri Lanka); Garcinia gummi-gutta formerly Garcinia cambogia]
Whole Ripe Gummi-Gutta Fruit

Native to Indonesia but now grown in other regions, this fruit, when mature, is orange or yellow with sutures, resembling a miniature pumpkin, though shape may vary. It is used as a souring agent in curries, particularly in Kerala, the far southwest coast of India. It grows at higher altitudes than Kokum, so is used by hill tribes like the Kodava. Like Kokum it is sold in both hard dried form and soft salt preserved form, and is more citrusy than Kokum. It is also used, especially by the Kodava (Coorg) people, to make a strong dark vinegar called Kaachambuli. Recipes calling for Gummi-Gutta may ask for "a few petals". The dried fruit splits along the sutures into these "petals".   Details and Cooking.

Gummi-gutta is also now grown in south and central Africa. In the West it was recently strongly hyped as a weight loss aid, but formal studies have shown it no more effective than a placebo, and there is some risk of liver toxicity.   Photo by Lalsinbox distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Gambooge   -   [Gambooge (English, India); Kujee Thekera (Assam); Makki (Tamil); Batuan (Philippine); Garcinia morella]
Drawing of Plant

This fruit tree, to about 40 feet tall, is found in northeastern India, Sri Lanka and the southern Philippines. Ripe fruit are very acidic, so not often eaten fresh. It is dried, pickled, made into chutney and otherwise preserved for use as a souring ingredient in lentil dishes. Dried fruit is used in lentil curries also in sour fish curries in Assam, in the far northeast of India.   Drawing by Franz Eugen Köhler in public domain - copyright expired.

Indian Tamarind   -   [Red Mango, Brindleberry (English); Korakkaipuli (Tamil); Kana goraka, Honda goraka (Sinhala); Garcinia quaesita]
Found only in Sri Lanka, the fruit of this medium size tree (up to 65 feet) is small, yellow or purple to reddish, and with 7 to 12 deep vertical grooves. It is mildly to moderately acidic and considered very good for eating out of hand.

Asam Keping   -   [Asam Gelugor, Asam Gulugo, Asam Keping (Malay); Garcinia atroviridis]
Sliced Dried Asam Keping Fruit

This yellow fruit, native to the rainforests of Malaysia and Thailand, is too sour to eat fresh, but has long been used dried as a flavoring in curries, and the like, particularly in Malaysia but increasingly in Thailand. The photo specimens, purchased from a large Indian market in Glendale, CA, were about 2-1/8 inches across.

Bar Thekera   -   [Sukan Thekera; Garcinia pedunculata]
Sliced Dried Bar Thekera Fruit

This broad leaf tree is native to Assam in the northeast of India and parts of Burma (Myanmar). In Assam, this sour fruit is eaten fresh, but more commonly it is sliced and sun dried for inclusion in sour fish curry, vegetable dishes and in fried lentil cakes. The fruit is between 3 and 5 inches diameter and contains seeds surrounded by juicy edible arils.   Photo distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Bacuparl   -   [Garcinia gardneriana]
Whole Fresh Bacupari Fruit

Native to the Amazon Basin of South America, the edible arils of this fruit are used in the region. It is also being studied as an agent in fighting cancer.   Photo by Carolqk contributed to the public domain.

Achacha   -   [Achachairú: Garcinia humilis]
Whole and Split Achacha Fruit

This fruit is grown primarily in Bolivia, but has recently been planted commercially in Australia where there is an ongoing advertising campaign to promote it. The nearly spherical orange fruits are up to 2-1/2 inches in length, and the arils have a bitter-sweet taste.   Photo by Joseani.neves distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

African Mangosteen   -   [Lowveld Mangosteen; Imbe; Garcinia livingstonei]
African Mangosteen Fruit on Tree

Native to a broad area of Africa from Somalia to South Africa, this is a traditional food plant in the region. There and elsewhere it is also grown as a decorative fruit tree. The taste of the aril surrounding the single seed is pleasantly sweet-sour, but it contains a latex some people dislike. The juice is used in beverages. The thin skinned orange fruit is up to 1-5/8 inches diameter. This tree can be grown in southern Florida (where the photo was taken) and is often made up as a male/female graft so a single isolated tree will bear fruit.   Photo: any use is permitted provided Christopher Hind is credited and his Flickr Page is linked.

Lemon Drop Mangosteen   -   [Achacha (Australia); Charichuelo (Spanish); Achachairu (Portuguese); Garcinia madruno   |   Garcinia intermedia]
Lemon Drop Mangosteen Fruit Split Open

Native to Central and South America, the white arils of this fruit have a sweet, citrusy taste. This tree can be grown in southern Florida (where the photo was taken) and is being commercially grown in Australia.   Photo by Chris Hind distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Cherapu   -   [Button Mangosteen; Garcinia prainiana]
Cherapu Fruit on Tree

Cultivated in Southeast Asia, this fruit has a very thin skin, making it easy to eat fresh. Some have compared the flavor to a tangerine. This tree can be grown in southern Florida (where the photo was taken).   Photo by Christopher Hind (CiXeL) contributed to the public domain.

Genus Pakuri

Bacuri   -   [Pakuri; Maniballi, Naranjillo, Bacurizeiro; Platonia insignis]
Bacuri Fruit, Whole and Split

Native to tropical South America, this tree bears roughly spherical fruit up to 5-1/2 inches in diameter. The aril has a sweet-sour taste and is often used to make condiments and beverages. The oily seeds are used medicinally to treat skin conditions.   Photo by Hellen Perrone contributed to the public domain.

Genus Allanblackia

Tallow Tree   -   [Allanblackia floribunda]
Tallow Tree Fruit on Tree
Native to central Africa this tree is common in the rainforest understory. The large fruit is particularly important in Nigeria, where the seeds are gathered for cooking oil and soap making. It is also suitable for making margarine and other products requiring an oil that is solid at room temperature, and is now approved for use in the European Union. The slimy fruit pulp is sometimes made into jams and jellies.

Currently, the fruit is gathered wild, but efforts to cultivate the trees commercially are in progress. Ripeness cannot be judged on the tree, so fallen fruit is gathered from the ground. The fruit are up to 12 inches long and contain around 100 seeds in a translucent pulp. The oil is about 50% stearic acid (saturated fat) and 45% Oleic acid (monounsaturated fat). The government of Nigeria is working to establish a commercial export industry based on this oil.   Photo by Scamperdale distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic - obtained from the Useful Tropical Plants Database.

Mkimbo   -   [Mkange, Mkanye, Mkimbo, Mshambo, Mwaka (Swahili); Allanblackia stuhlmannii]
Mkimbo Fruit on Ground
Found only in Tanzania in central Africa, this tree is quite similar to the more widespread A. floribunda. The seeds are gathered in the wild for cooking oil and soap making. The oil is also suitable for making margarine and other products requiring an oil that is solid at room temperature.

Currently, the fruit is gathered wild, but efforts to cultivate the trees commercially are in progress. The oil is about the same as that of A. floribunda, which is 50% stearic acid (saturated fat) and 45% Oleic acid (monounsaturated fat).   Photo by Tanzania Plant Collaboration distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic - obtained from the Useful Tropical Plants Database.

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