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Tuesday, April 12, 2011
HIMALAYAN WILD PEAR ( PYRUS PASHIA) - INFORMATION , USES AND MEDICINAL BENEFITS
The Himalayan wild pear is also known as the Punjabi pear and the Indian Pear, and has the Latin synonyms, Pyrus kumaoni and Pyrus variolosa. Locally it’s known by many names such as shegal and kainth but is rarely found in bazaars as the fruit doesn’t travel well. It looks a little like the russet apple, and has an astringent but sweet taste when ripe. It is apparently best to eat when it is decaying slightly, and has a grittier texture than the cultivated pears. This means that it helps reduce the risks of colon cancer and can prevent the growth of polyps.
The astringent juice is used medicinally to stop diarrhoea, but little else seems to be known about the ways locals use the fruit. Most of the vitamin C content is in the skin of the fruit, which is not eaten as it decays first, but the pear contains minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium and iron.
The wild pear tree grows commonly at altitudes of between 700 and 2000 metres and because the tree has thorns, farmers use it as a live fence to keep livestock in or out of their fields. It is also used for firewood and for items such as walking sticks and small agricultural and household implements. The tree is also used as rootstock for other pears and it is hoped that this will not cause them to die out.
Their range extends from Pakistan to Viet Nam and from southern China to northern India and Bhutan. The trees flower from late February to mid-March and the pears begin to ripen during the first week of November and are over by the last week of December. Unfortunately they do not travel well so never reach the bazaar here, and locals who have the pears can’t benefit by selling them as they can from selling the kachnar buds and the wild fig. The wild pears can be dried and used, but it seems that people do not do this as a matter of course during the fruit season, so everyone loses out on a wild food source.