Wood Apple

Wood Apple (bel) globose woody fruit of a medium sized tree, Aegle marmelos of family Rutaceae. The pinnate leaves bear spine at the base. The flowers are reddish; bark thick, comparatively soft and brownish. The fruit is fairly large, globular with diameter 5-16 cm having woody rind. Ripe fruits have soft, fleshy, yellowish edible pulp with numerous seeds embedded within the pulp.

Wood apple is cultivated mostly in Rajshahi and Kushtia. As a homestead tree it is grown throughout the country. Wood apples of Gazipur and Rajshahi are fairly large. Its pulp is also used for preparation of sherbet, chutney and pickles. The gum obtained from the trunk and branches is used like gum-arabic.

The leaves and bark have medicinal values. The wood is used in agricultural implements and making handles of different tools.

Another related species, Feronia limonia popularly known as kathbel (elephant apple) is a highly demanding fruit. The tree is of medium-sized, spiny, with small leaves and reddish flowers. The fruit is about the size of a tennis ball, greenish at the early stage but appears whitish when ripe. The little soury pulp of the ripe fruit is very tasteful and widely used as chutney. Numerous seeds are embedded in the aromatic fleshy pulp. Elephant apple grows scatteredly throughout Bangladesh. [Mostafa Kamal Pasha]