- Native to southeast Asia, the Kepel tree finds a place in the palace gardens of Indonesia.
Scientific classification: kepel tree
- Kingdom : plantae
- Order : magnoliales
- Family : annonaceae
- Genus: stelechocarpus
- Species: stelechocarpus burahol
A creamy pulp with a tropical taste:
yellowish creamy pulp of Kepel with brown seeds
- With a leathery, textured, and slightly rough skin, the fruits transition from green to yellow to brown until fully mature and ripen within six months. Creamy and semi-aqueous underneath the surface, the insides of the fruit have a smooth consistency. The flesh encases a few large, oval, and light brown seeds which are not edible.
- The tree trunk grows up to 40 cm and the tree grows up to 25m in height.
- The fruits are three to six centimeters in diameter and are either round or oval. They possess a sweet, tropical, and spicy mango-like flavor with the overtones of coconut and papaya. The size of each fruit is as big as an adult fist. It also symbolizes mental and physical integrity like the clenched hands do.
- They have an aromatic essence and can be eaten straight, out of hand. It is best-sliced half and scooped with a spoon.
Ethnic values since ancient times – reserved for the elites:
- The Kepel fruit is the official emblem of the Yogyakarta special region in southern Java which is ruled by the only recognized monarchy of Indonesia. It was believed that the fruit gave body secretions a floral aroma and hence was consumed only by royalty in ancient times. It has been used in the perfume industry for a long time and the fruit is profoundly called the perfumed fruit.
- It was also used as a contraceptive as it rendered women infertile after consumption. Presently, Kepel trees can be seen in the Indonesian palace gardens. One can find them in fruit parks and botanical gardens too. In Indonesia, the fruit has been popular as a symbol of strength, hospitality, and royalty and is featured at the entrance palace gates.
The ornamental look: glossy leaves, bright flowers, and an enveloped appearance:
close-up of the Kepel leaves
- The tree serves an ornamental purpose with its dark green, glossy leaves, and pinkish tinge. The leaves and the stems lie perpendicular to each other hence forming a conical canopy with a pointed crown. Bright flowers decorate the trunk and the fruits sprout out from the trunk itself hence giving the tree an enveloped look. The leaves shine on exposure to sunlight.
- The flowers are initially green and later they blossom as beautiful white flowers on the dark trunk.
High nutritional value – a diuretic and contraceptive :
Kepel fruit, a fruit that has been the favorite of the princesses of the Javanese palace since ancient times until now
- The fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A. Apart from boosting immunity, the fruit is known to protect against vision loss and is a natural diuretic that cleanses the kidneys. It boosts collagen production within the skin and acts as an anti-aging ingredient. Studies have shown that the fruit can repair damaged liver cells and is an excellent remedy for gout.
- It restores the enzyme production capacity of the liver cells. The leaf extracts are beneficial for cholesterol and uric acid. Apart from these, the flesh, seeds, and roots are laden with saponins, polyphenols, and flavonoids. The leaves are rich in alkaloids.
An endangered species -the victim of urbanization :
- The wild fruits thrive in humid, tropical forests and are found in limited numbers. Rapid urbanization has led to the decline in number, the species is therefore endangered. Due to its slow-growing nature, the efforts to replant Kepel go in vain. It takes 8-10 years for the fruit to grow.
- The fruits have also been introduced in India, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines, Australia, and Florida.
Pooja Kumari Sha
December 27, 2021