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Characteristics of Kokum Tree (Garcinia indica) in the Wild

Kokum Tree (Garcinia indica)

Kokum or Kokam (Garcinia indica) is a plant species in the Clusiaceae family, it is a fruit-producing tree that has culinary, industrial, and pharmaceutical uses. This tree grows in the tropical forest regions of India, especially in the Western Ghats.

This species was originally described as Brindonia indica by Louis Marie Aubert du Petit-Thouars and published in Dictionnaire des Sciences Naturelles, ed. 2, 5: 340, in 1806. Currently, the name Brindonia indica is a synonym of Garcinia indica, after being transferred to the genus Garcinia by Jacques Denis Choisy in Prodromus systematis naturalis regni vegetabilis 1: 561, in 1824.

The kokum tree is known for the culinary uses of its fruit. The outside of the fruit is dried in the sun to get aamsul or kokam. It is used as an ingredient in tamarind usually in Maharashtra, Assam, Karnataka, Goa, and Gujarat.

Kokum fruit produces a distinctive taste and dark red color. This fruit is also used in cooking from Gujarat, where it is often used to add flavor and tartness to soups for balance. Kokum fruit is widely used in Assamese cuisine in many dishes such as tamarind fish curry.

The fresh fruit can also be preserved in sugar and is a bright red color that is diluted with water and packaged to be sold as a drink called Kokum Sarbat.

The fruit extract is called aagul in Konkani and Marathi. It is added during the preparation of solkadhi, which may also include coconut milk, coriander, and garlic.

In industry, Garcinia indica fruit contains 23-26% Kokum butter. It is used in the manufacture of chocolate and sugar confectionery.

An oily extract called Kukum butter is used in ointments and suppositories. Can be applied to skin and hair products, acne products, and skin tonics.

The peel of the fruit is a good source of hydroxycitric acid which is claimed to alter lipid metabolism.

In addition to its culinary and industrial uses, Kokum is also grown as an ornamental tree, with a canopy of dense green leaves and soft red young leaves.

Since 16 July 2014, the IUCN Red List has categorized Garcinia indica as a globally Vulnerable (VU) species.


Characteristics of Kokum Leaf

Garcinia indica Leaf
Source: Pravin V Vishe

The leaves are smooth, elliptical, lanceolate to ovate, reach about 11 cm in length, and have short stems. The edges of the leaves are intact, the tips are rounded to pointed or pointed.

Characteristics of Kokum Flower

Garcinia indica Flower
Source: Radha Veach

Garcinia indica is a monoecious tree. The flowers are yellowish or reddish, quadruple with a double perianth. Short-stemmed female flowers usually appear terminal and solitary or up to three and may contain a staminode, superior ovary with sessile and multi-lobed stigmas. Male flowers appear axillary or terminal in small clusters of up to eight to ten, have many stamens, and may have pistils.

Characteristics of Kokum Fruit

Garcinia indica Fruit
Source: camilleacoyong

Depending on the morphotype, the fruit is dark purple or reddish, but also yellow to greenish, round to pear-shaped, and up to 4 cm in size. The kidney-shaped, flat, red-brown seeds are covered by reddish-white endocarp flesh (not the aril) and are located inside the flesh of the fruit. Each fruit contains five to eight seeds.

Characteristics of Kokum Tree

Garcinia indica Tree
Source: alkark1

Garcinia indica or Kokum tree is an evergreen, that can grow up to 15 meters high, and when mature its canopy takes the shape of a pyramid.

In traditional medicine, Ayurveda, the Kokum tree has many benefits, such as antipyretic to reduce body heat and to reduce weight because it contains citric acid.

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