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Thursday, January 13, 2011
KEPEL FRUIT: BENEFITS AND USES OF KEPEL FRUIT
Kepel fruit grows straight from the tree trunk and not on branches, like most fruit. It originated in Indonesia, and is the floral emblem of Yogyakarta Special Region of Indonesia. It still grows wild in secondary forests of Java, where it is mainly cultivated. It is grown elsewhere as an ornamental tree and has been introduced to parts of South America, such as Honduras, and to Florida in the USA. It has also been introduced relatively recently to the Philippines and Australia. It is a member of the custard-apple family which now grows throughout south-east Asia, in Malaysia and the Solomon Islands. Another botanical name for it is Uvaria burahol, and as uva is Latin for egg, I guess this refers to the shape of the fruit.
Unfortunately it is an endangered species, although it is being cultivated now in Indonesia for its possible further use in the perfume industry. In fact this is where it is unique. It was once used as a way of giving fragrance to the bodily excretions, including urine. It is said to make the liquid expelled by the body and the breath, smell of violets. The Sultan of Jogjia had his consorts eat kepel fruit so that they would smell good naturally and it was also used as a contraceptive as it temporarily renders women infertile. In fact he restricted its consumption so that only his court members could eat the fruit.
The fruit also has diuretic properties, and it is said to be good for the kidneys, preventing stones forming and their function healthy. If you scratch the brown outer casing of the fruit, it is orange underneath when ripe, and it can be found nestling in the bright pink leaves of the tree. It has pink-cream flowers which grow straight out of the trunk of the tree. The fruit’s flesh is a light orange colour and is creamy like a chikoo (which it resembles, at least on the outside) or ber. There are seeds inside, again rather like those of the chikoo. However it is said to have a spicy flavour, a little like a mango.
The wood of the tree is used in construction and for making furniture, and probably gathered for firewood too, which might explain why it does not grow wild in many places in Java.