Rich with nutrients Rambutan
Rambuttan Plant one in your garden to enjoy this nutrient-rich fruit
Bunches of rambutans seen in carts never fail to catch the attention of passers-by. Many are tempted to test the taste of this fruit. This may be the reason why many buy this fruit at prices ranging from Rs. 100 to Rs. 180 per kg. Don’t worry if the translucent meat of the fruit melts away on your tongue within a few seconds. It would have added many nutrients and minerals to your body. This fruit has come down all the way from Malaysia and Sri Lanka. A local variety of rambutan is also seen in the Palode-Vithura area of Thiruvananthapuram. We can also spot a few fruit bearing trees here and there in the city, tracing the Malaysian connections of their proud owners.
Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) is from Sapindaceae family and is adapted to warm tropical climates and grows well in deep soil rich in organic matter. It is believed to be native to the Malay Archipelago. It is an evergreen tree growing to a height of 10-20 m tall. Rambutan trees are either male (producing only staminate flowers and, hence, produce no fruit), female (producing flowers that are only functionally female), or hermaphroditic (producing flowers that are female with a small percentage of male flowers).
The fruit gets its name from the Malaysian word ‘Rambut,’ meaning hairs. The reddish leathery skin (rarely yellow or orange) is covered with fleshy pliable spines. The flesh is translucent, white or very pale pink with sweet mildly acidic flavours.
Rambutan is propagated from seed, vegetatively by air-layering, and bud grafting. The latter is most common as trees grown from seed often produce sour fruit. Bud grafted trees normally fruit after three to five years with optimum production occurring after eight to 10 years. Trees grown from the seed bear fruit after five to six years. These buds/grafts cost around Rs. 25-30 per plant and care should be taken to buy these from authorised nurseries. The Rambutan trees in Kerala flowers during March-May and bear fruits during June-September.
This fruit is not used as an exclusive food item but also used for medicinal use. The roots of the tree are used in decoctions for treating fever; the bark as an astringent for disease of the tongue; and the leaves are used in poultices for headache.
The fruit wall contains a toxic saponin; and cases of poisoning are known; however, in Java it is dried and used as a medicine. Young shoots are used as a dye for silk. Leaves are used, together with mud, as an impermanent black dye.
The seed kernel can be used for the production of Rambutan tallow, a solid fat similar to cacao butter, which is edible and also used for soaps and candles. When heated, it becomes a yellow oil with an agreeable scent. So next time you see a cartload of Rambutan …stop, buy and enjoy its taste. You will really wish you had a Rambutan tree in your doorstep
ANITHA C. S.
Agricultural Officer Farm Information Bureau Contact:94472 28899