Proper study and cultivation of medicinal fruit trees needs urgent attention: Prof. S. Subasinghe

Friday, 27 December 2013 02:35 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Text and pic by P.D. De Silva “There are more than 60 varieties of underutilised fruit crops in Sri Lanka. Underutilised fruit crops can be defined as fruit crops which are high in value but not widely grown, rarely found in the market and not cultivated commercially. Most of these varieties are found in the wild or home gardens. With the growing popularity of herbal medicines it is a timely need to publish the therapeutic and medicinal values as well as promote the cultivation of these fruits,” stated a technical paper titled ‘Medicinal values of some major underutilised fruit crops in Sri Lanka’ at the 2nd International Symposium on Minor Fruits and Medicinal Plants submitted by the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture Professor S. Subasinghe and U.K.D.C. Gunasekera of the University of Ruhuna. Several underutilised fruit crops found in Sri Lanka have curative values and are widely used in indigenous medicines. For example Madan (Syzigium Cumini) bark and seeds are used to treat diabetes and the leaf juice is used for the treatment of gingivitis. Lavalu (Pouteria campechiana) the fruit acts as a bulk laxative agent, Beli (Aegle marmelos) contains gastro protection properties, controls diabetes, cholesterol, constipation, dysentery and diarrhoea. Guava (Pisidium guajava L.) leaves and bark are used as a disinfectant and antiseptic in dressing wounds and sores, while its flowers are used for treating bronchitis and the fruit helps to reduce high blood pressure. Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam) leaves are used for curing fever and skin disease, latex of the fruit is used for treating dystopia, opthalmities and pharyngitis. The fruit is used for overcoming the use of alcohol. Nelli (Emblica officinalis) fruit enhances immunity and is high in antioxidants, reduces inflammation and good for digestion. Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) fruit skin is used for the treatment of diarrhoea and the juice is used for poor appetite and digestive disorders. The bark is highly toxic to intestinal worms. Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) fruit is used for fever, Veralu (Elaeocarpus serratus) fruits are used to treat diarrhoea and Woodapple (Ferronia limonia) is used as a laxative and prevents and cures scurvy. Durian (Durio zibethinus) fruits and leaf juice are used for treating fever, Goraka (Garcenia zeylanica) fruit is considered as an amazing fat burner and Gaduguda (Baccauria motieyana) bark is used for scorpion bites. Kon (Schleicheraa oleosa) seeds are used as a hair stimulant and a cure for itching, rose apple (Zyzygium jambos L.) seeds used for diabetes and diarrhoea, Uguressa (Flacourtia indica) the leaves and roots are used for snake bites and Emberella (Sondias Dulcis) fruits are used for treating high blood pressure, while its leaves are used to cure mouth sores. Palu (Menilkara hexandra) fruits are used to relieve burning sensation and anorexia while the bark is used for odontopathy. Namnan (Cynometra cauliflora) seeds are used to cure skin disease, Lovi (Flacourtiai inermis), Mandarin (Citrus reticulate), Nasnaran (Citrus japonica), Pumello (Citrus grandis), Sapodilla (Achras sapato) are also high in medicinal values. There is an urgent need to make proper studies of the medicinal properties, develop proper agronomic practices and propagation technologies, conserve, multiply and sustain the production of theses underutilised fruit crops.