Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana L.)

The mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical evergreen tree, believed to have originated in the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. The tree grows from 7 to 25 m (20-80 ft) tall. The rind (exocarp) of the edible fruit is deep reddish purple when ripe. Botanically an aril, the fragrant edible flesh can be described as sweet and tangy, citrusy with peach flavor and texture.

The mangosteen fruit - alternatively known as the King or Queen of Fruits - is seed-bearing and multi-segmented. The number of segments varies from 5 to 7, with the largest invariably holding the seed. It is a round, tennis ball-size fruit that has a purple outer rind and a soft, milky white edible center.

Despite its name, it has nothing in common with the more popular tropical fruit mango. The fruit is not largely cultivated across the world because of the specific climactic conditions required for its growth. It grows abundantly only in countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil and India. For this reason, mangosteen is one of the most expensive fruits available.

The mangosteen fruit’s high cost also stems from the fact that it appears only sparingly on the tree. It is only partly edible and has a captivating flavor of its own. It usually appears twice a year: autumn and the early part of summer.

How to grow
The mangosteen is ultra-tropical. It cannot tolerate temperatures below 40º F (4.44º C), nor above 100º F (37.78º C). Nursery seedlings are killed at 45º F (7.22º C). It ordinarily requires high atmospheric humidity and an annual rainfall of at least 50 in (127 cm), and no long periods of drought. The tree is not adapted to limestone and does best in deep, rich organic soil, especially sandy loam or laterite. Good drainage of soil is essential.

Maturity Period
take 12 to 20 years to fruit

Harvest season
2 distinct fruiting seasons, one in the monsoon period (July-October) and another from April through June.

Nutrition info
Good source of dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A & C

Health benefit
Used as traditional medicine for treatment of skin infection wounds for many years. It contains a variety of secondary metabolites such as oxygenated and prenylated xanthones which can anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti cancer effects.

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