Posted in Flora & Fauna, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, Travel

Mencepu, Cerapu, Kecupu [Garcinia Praniana]

Mencepu Garcinia Prainiana [1]

Mencepu, Cerapu, Kecupu [Garcinia praniana] is small tropical fruit tree with glossy leaves and very fragrant reddish-pink flowers. Easily found in deep within the verdant rainforests of South Thailand, Malaysia and Borneo. Menchepu (Garcinia prainiana) plants begin a most ancient of rituals. Menchepu is little known by the present generation may be due to the sour taste of the fruit is causing isolated from other local tropical fruits.

Mencepu Garcinia Prainiana [2]

The fruit is round in shape like a tomato and size also vary according to the fertility of the plant. Normal size of this fruit as the same size of tomato; when its ripe the size is between 30mm – 50mm only.

The ripe fruit is orange in colour, while young fruit is green colour. Its skin is very thin, soft, and stick with its contents. Its contents always in orange colour and rubbery flesh. The skin can be peeled by hand and its contents have small flats like mangosteen. This fruit has seeds about (5mm-8mm). The fruit is somewhat sour and chelate in flavour.

Mencepu Garcinia Prainiana [3]

Amidst the dense foliage, small red flowers emerge like jewels from the deep green branch tips, effusing their sweet aroma in hopes of seducing tiny insects. Beneath the tropical sun, the insects flitter playfully among the male and female blooms, unwittingly pollinating their thankful hosts. Brilliant orange fruits have very pleasant taste, with unusual sweet-sour flavoured pulp. The trees are very slow growing but long-lived and can fruit when only a few feet tall, 5-10m, crown narrow, dense, bushy.

The fruit is a little gummy and sour tastes, a lot of people do not eat directly instead use them in cooking.

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Posted in CAMBODIA, Flora & Fauna, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, Travel

Roselle

RoselleRoselle, the plant bears a berry-like fruit which is rich in vitamin C and anthocyanins (potent antioxidants).

Hibiscus sabdariffa is an erect shrub with smooth red, cylindrical stems and green maple-shaped leaves.  It can grow to a height of about two metres.

The flowers have a blood red centre.  They do not last long, opening light yellow in the morning and turning a gorgeous pink as they wither off by mid-day.  The fruit is a fleshy, juicy, dark red calyx consisting of five large sepals enclosing a green seed capsule.  Each capsule contains three to four brown kidney-shaped seeds.  The capsule turns from green to brown and splits open when mature.

The cultivar, H. sabdariffa var. sabdariffa race ruber, is grown for the calyxes we use in making roselle drinks.  Another cultivar H. sabdariffa var. altisimer is grown commercially for the production of jute-fibre in India.

Despite its short life (about a year or less) as an annual, it is very productive.  A healthy plant can easily produce about 250 calyxes per annum.  If you have five to seven mature plants, you can harvest the fruit every fortnightly and have enough to give neighbours and friends.

Young shoots and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.  In any case roselle is already known as a health drink due to its high contents of vitamin C and anthocyanins (antioxidants).  Vitamin C and anthocyanins found in roselle juice or tea drink are good for our health and can increase the level of resistance of our body to diseases.  In some countries roselle is becoming increasingly popular for health purposes, for example its leaves and fruits are claimed to be effective in controlling high blood pressure.

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Posted in CAMBODIA, Flora & Fauna, INDONESIA, Life, MALAYSIA

Pineapple

Pineapple[1]Pineapple

The pineapple is technically not a single fruit, but a sorosis. The fruits of a hundred or more separate flowers grow on the plant spike. As they grow, they swell with juice and pulp, expanding to become the “fruit.”

Pineapples have exceptional juiciness and a vibrant tropical flavour that balances the tastes of sweet and tart. They are second only to bananas as America’s favourite tropical fruit. Although the season for pineapple runs from March through June, they are available year-round in local markets.

Pineapples are a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Each fruitlet can be identified by an “eye,” the rough spiny marking on the pineapple’s surface. Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves and fibrous yellow flesh. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture.

Pineapple[2]Ripe Pineapples

Pineapple are consumed both fresh and cooked, canned, juiced, are found in a wide array of food stuffs –dessert, fruit salad, jam, yogurt, ice cream, crisps, candy- and as a complement to meat dishes. In addition to consumption, in the Philippines the pineapple’s leaves are used to produce the textile fibre – piña – as a component of wall paper and furnishings, amongst other uses

Pineapple, Ananas comosus, belongs to the Bromeliaceae family, from which one of its most important health-promoting compounds, the enzyme bromelain, was named. The Spanish name for pineapple, pina, and the root of its English name, reflects the fruit’s visual similarity to the pinecone.

Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves. The fibrous flesh of pineapple is yellow in colour and has a vibrant tropical flavour that balances the tastes of sweet and tart. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture.

Although thought to have originated in South America, pineapples were first discovered by Europeans in 1493 on the Caribbean island that came to be known as Guadalupe. When Columbus and other discovers brought pineapples back to Europe, attempts were made to cultivate the sweet, prized fruit until it was realized that the fruit’s need for a tropical climate inhibited its ability to flourish in this region. By the end of the 16th century, Portuguese and Spanish explorers introduced pineapples into many of their Asian, African and South Pacific colonies, countries in which the pineapple is still being grown today.

Since pineapples are very perishable, and modes of transportation to bring them stateside from the Caribbean Islands were relatively slow centuries ago, fresh pineapples were a rarity that became coveted by the early American colonists. While glazed, sugar-coated pineapples were a luxurious treat, it was the fresh pineapple itself that became the sought after true symbol of prestige and social class. In fact, the pineapple, because of its rarity and expense, was such a status item in those times that all a party hostess had to do was to display the fruit as part of a decorative centrepiece, and she would be awarded more than just a modicum of social awe and recognition.

In the 18th century, pineapples began to be cultivated in Hawaii, the only state in the U.S. in which they are still grown. In addition to Hawaii, other countries that commercially grow pineapples include Thailand, the Philippines, China, Brazil and Mexico.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves. The fibrous flesh of pineapple is yellow in colour and has a vibrant tropical flavour that balances the tastes of sweet and tart.

The nutritional profile of pineapple includes a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fibre, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Pineapples are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. They’re also a good source of Dietary Fibre, Thiamin, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6 and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin C and Manganese.

Pineapple[4]Pineapples are actually not just one fruit but a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Each fruitlet can be identified by an “eye,” the rough spiny marking on the pineapple’s surface.

Agricultural waste from pineapple, which is eco-friendly can be used as alternative materials for production of home textiles, apparels, non-woven and industrial fabrics and upholsteries. The waste parts left from canning plants, including the skin, core and ends, are used to make alcohol, vinegar and food for livestock.

Pineapple fibres are obtained from pineapple waste, which has high lignin and cellulose content. These were already being used as organic waste till recently, but with recent experiments proving successful in producing silk-like textiles when fused with polyester or silk, these fibres have a new utility.

Pineapple FiberPiña (as it called in Philippines) fibre is extracted from the leaves of the pineapple plant, Ananas comosus.  Piña fibre can be extracted by hand-scraping, decortication or retting.  Pineapple fibres are very lightweight, soft and easy to maintain and wash, and also it fuses well with other fabrics and provides an elegant look.

Pineapple fibres are very lightweight, soft and easy to maintain and wash, and also it fuses well with other fabrics and provides an elegant look. With increasing awareness regarding eco-friendly fabrics, these fibres are now being increasingly used for preparation of apparels and home furnishings such as cloth, shirt, handbag, coaster, floor mat, paper etc.

Piña fibre can be extracted by hand-scraping, decortication or retting. However, it is only by hand-scraping that good quality fibres are produced for handweaving.

Pineapple Shirt[1]

Handwoven piña cloth embroidered intricately were greatly prized then and believed to have matched, or even surpassed, the most intricate laces or other luxurious handiworks. Piña cloth became one of the most sought after handwoven materials because it was a suitable wear to tropical climate and due to its uniqueness and beauty, it offered the most feminine and refined look in an age of elegance and romanticism.

The processes involved in piña fibre and cloth production are too laborious and time-consuming as each step – from fibre production to weaving – is done by hand. Thus, through the years, the younger generation lost interest in pursuing this undertaking, leaving only the old folks to engage in the diverse activities of the industry.

Pineapple Shirt[2]Piña cloth then was described as one of the most beautiful fabrics; only used in the dress of the wealthy, being too costly for common use.

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Posted in CAMBODIA, Flora & Fauna, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, MALI

Cashew Nut

Cashew NutCashew nuts are kidney-shaped seeds with a delicate flavour and a slightly spongy, firm texture.  The apple is a pseudofruit. The edible portion is the kernal (cashew nut). The cashew apple is used as a fresh fruit or made into juice, jams, chutneys or jellies in some countries. The thin skin, and fast decomposition of the apple, makes it difficult to transport.

Cashew nuts are actually seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree.  The seed we know as the kidney-shaped cashew “nut” is delicate in flavor and firm, but slightly spongy, in texture.

You have noticed that cashews in the shell are not available in stores. This is because these nuts are always sold pre-shelled since the interior of their shells contains a caustic resin, known as cashew balm, which must be carefully removed before they are fit for consumption. This caustic resin is actually used in industry to make varnishes and insecticides.

Cashews, known scientifically as Anacardium occidentale, belong to the same family as the mango and pistachio nut.

Cashew nut contains Heart-Protective Monounsaturated Fats.  Not only do cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts, approximately 75% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids, plus about 75% of this unsaturated fatty acid content is oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Studies show that oleic acid promotes good cardiovascular health, even in individuals with diabetes. Studies of diabetic patients show that monounsaturated fat, when added to a low-fat diet, can help to reduce high triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a form in which fats are carried in the blood, and high triglyceride levels are associated with an increased risk for heart disease, so ensuring you have some monounsaturated fats in your diet by enjoying cashews is a good idea, especially for persons with diabetes.

The cashew tree grows in the tropics and subtropics requiring high humidity and fertile soil. Related to the mango and pistachio, the cashew can grow to a height of 15 metres and may bear fruit in the second year, be productive in the fourth year, and reach maximum yields in around ten years.

The outer shell is green and leathery and turns an orange red when mature. The inner shell is hard, similar to other nut shells, and contains the edible kernal. The oil enclosed in the nut’s shell (cashew nut shell liquid or CNSL [anacardic acid]) is toxic and can burn the skin. It is used in producing plastics and as a lubricant and insecticide.

Cashew Nut1

Cashew nut could be found widely in tropical countries such as India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Mozambique, Tanzania, Mali and Nigeria and some part of Australia.

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Posted in Flora & Fauna, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, Travel

Durian

Nick named ‘King of Fruits’; durian is highly valued in Southeast Asian countries. Durian has a very distinguished smell and its skin is thorny and hard. The dimension of a durian fruit is about 30 – 15 cm and its weight is about three Kgs. Durian flowers bloom in a cluster and there are about three to thirty identical clusters borne on its trunk and large branches. Every flower has sepals and about five to six petals. Durian is round although the oblong shape is not irregular. The shells are green or brown while its flesh is a luminous yellowish or reddish color.

Common Names – Durian (Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia)
Origin – Durian originated from Southeast Asia.
Scientific Name – Durio zibethinus

The degree of ripeness has an effect on the flavor of durian. Scientific analysis done on the durian aroma has found a mixture of esters, ketones, and different sulphur compounds, but could not distinguish which one is the primary contributor of the strong odor. The odor of the edible parts of durian is so penetrating; it spreads a long distance even without removing the shell. Some like the aroma of durian very much while some others highly despise its scent.

Durian trees yield two harvests per year, but it may vary in keeping with the various climates, cultivars and places. Durian trees bear fruit after 4 -5 years and they take about three months to ripe. From a great variety of durian, only the Durio ziebethinus variety is marketed internationally.

Durian shells are green or brown while its flesh is a luminous yellowish or reddish color. The odor of the edible parts of durian is so penetrating; it spreads a long distance even without removing the shell. Some like the aroma of durian very much while some others highly despise its scent.

Without refrigeration the fruit has a shelf life of only 2 -5 days. Fermented durian, wrapped in palm leaves, remain palatable for up to a year. The preparation is called “tempoyak” in Malaysia and Indonesia and is a popular side dish. They may also be used mixed with rice and sugar to make “lempok”, or minced with salt, onions and vinegar, for “boder”. Durian seeds may be roasted in hot ashes, or cut into slices and fried in spiced coconut oil. They are eaten with rice, or mixed with sugar to make a sweetmeat. Half-ripe fruit are used in soups. The durian is not only a meal to the lover, but has in fact the requisite food values. Though the fruit has much waste, it is very filling and high in proteins, minerals and fats.

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Posted in Flora & Fauna, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, Tourism, Travel

Mangosteen

Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical fruiting tree in the family Clusiaceae, native to the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas of Indonesia.  It is known as manggis in Malaysia and Singapore. Mangosteen is one of the most tasty tropical fruits and rightfully deserves the title “Queen of Fruits”.

Common Names – Manggis (Malaysia and Indonesia)
Origin – Pulasan originated from Southeast Asia.
Scientific Name – Garcinia mangostana

Mangosteen tree is a slow-growing, erect, with a pyramidal crown tree, growing 7-25 m tall. It has scaly, dark-brown or nearly black bark, with inner bark that produce yellow, gummy and bitter latex. The leaves are evergreen, dark green, opposite, ovate or elliptic, thick with leathery texture, 9-25 cm long and  4.5-10 cm wide, with conspicuous midrib. New leaves appear rosy. The flowers, may be male or hermaphrodite on the same tree. They are 4-5 cm wide and fleshy. Male flowers, 4 sepals and 4 ovate, thick and fleshy petals, appear in clusters of 3-9 at the branch tips, are green with red spots on the outside and yellowish-red on the inside, with many stamens. The hermaphrodite flowers, with petals that are yellowish-green edged with red or mostly red, are borne singly or in pairs at the tip of young branchlets, and are quickly shed. The juvenile mangosteen fruit, which does not require fertilisation to form is initially pale green or almost white, ripening to a deep, purplish burgundy in 2-3 months time.

Mangosteen fruit is round, dark purple to red purple and smooth externally, 3-8 cm in diameter. It is capped by the prominent calyx at the stem end, and with 4 to 8 triangular, flat remnants of the stigma in a rosette at the apex, corresponding to the numbers of aril segments inside the fruit. The best fruit has the most numbers of stigma lobes at the apex, for these have the highest number of fleshy segments and accordingly the fewest seeds. The rind, 6-10 mm thick, contains purple, staining juice and bitter yellow latex. The purple juice may stain skin or fabric. The flattened seeds are ovoid-oblong, 2.5 cm long and 1.6 cm wide, and cling to the arils. The white arils is sweet, tangy, fibrous with slightly acidic taste.

Mangosteen is delicious and usually eaten fresh as dessert , rich in xanthones and tannin and is commonly used as an astringent, which are known to help your body function healthily.  It is also made into jam. 


Mangosteen is delicious and usually eaten fresh as dessert. It is also made into jam. The rind of the mangosteen is rich in xanthones and tannin and is commonly used as an astringent, which are known to help your body function healthily. In addition to this, each serving of this fruit can contain up to five grams of fibre.

Xanthones are the name given to a group of polyphenolic compounds, which are similar in structure to bioflavanoids and are biologically active. They are very rarely found occurring in nature, and the majority of them are found in just two different families of plants. So far, there have been two hundred xanthones that occur naturally which have been identified, and of those two hundred, forty were discovered in the Mangosteen fruit.

Xanthones, along with their derivatives, have been scientifically proven to have many benefits. Some of these are anti-inflammatory properties, anti convulsion abilities and anti-allergic properties. Other components that are found in Mangosteen also have some medicinal qualities, and examples of a few of these components would be catechins, sterols, polysaccharides and proanthocyanidins. While these compounds are not as nutritionally important or as biologically active as xanthones, they still go a long way in providing the Mangosteen with the medicinal benefits that it is treasured for, because many of these components are antioxidants.

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Posted in Flora & Fauna, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, Travel

Pulasan

Pulasan (Nephelium mutabile) is a tropical fruit closely related to the rambutan, in the family Sapindaceae, native to Peninsular Malaysia. The name pulasan is derived from Malay word ‘pulas’ meaning twist, in referrence to the act of opening the fruit via twisting. It is known as pulasan in English, Spanish and Malay, kepulasan in Indonesia, bulala in the Philippines, and ngoh-khonsan in Thailand. Pulasan is common in Southeast Asia and the Philippines, and rare to the rest of the world.

Common Names – Pulasan, kapulasan (Indonesia), ngoh-khonsan (Thailand) and bulala (Philippines)
Origin – Pulasan originated from Malaysia.
Scientific Name – Nephelium mutabile

Pulasan tree is a tropical ornamental tree, growing 10-15 m tall, with short trunk, 30-40 cm diameter. The branches are brown and hairy when young. The pinnate leaves are alternate, 17-45 cm long, with 2-5 pairs of opposite leaflets, oblong or elliptic-lanceolate, 6-17.5 cm long and 5 cm wide. The leaves are dark-green, slightly wavy on the upper side, and pale bluish-green with few hairs on the underside. The petaless flowers are small, greenish, with 4-5 hairy sepals, borne singly or in clusters, on erect, axillaries or terminal branches. The panicles are covered with fine yellowish or brownish hairs. The fruit is 5-7.5 cm long, ovoid, red or dark-red in color. The fruit is covered with short, stiff, fleshy straight spines, 1 cm long.

This ovoid dark red colour fruit has a thick, leathery rind closely set with narrowed, blunt tipped tubercles. The straight spines of the fruit grow up to 1 cm long. The oblong shaped seed appears to be flattened on one side with grayish brown in colour. On by twisting the fruit with both the hands, the fruit can be opened and the flesh can be consumed.

Pulasan is juicy and sweet, usually eaten fresh, though it resembles much like Rambutan, it is different from Rambutan and haves its own characteristics. Pulasan is sweeter than rambutan and lychee.  The wood is light red, harder and heavier than that of rambutan. The decotion of the fruit is highly used bathing fever patients. There are two varieties of Pulasan one is dark red and the other one is light red.

The dark red fruit haves a seed that separates easily from the flesh whereas the light red fruit haves a seed that sticks on to the flesh of the fruit.  The seed of pulasan can be eaten raw, and has a flavor quite similar to that of almonds.

Pulasan is propagated by seeds which can be either male or female, but there are a number of named varieties propagated by grafting and air layering.  The seeds lose viability quickly, and should not be allowed to dry out. Germination occurs in 10-15 days. Seed propagation is not usually preferred, as the trees may be males or have fruit of inferior quality. Both bud and approach grafting are used. Grafted trees begin to produce fruit at about 3-5 years.

The most important related species is the rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum), but there are at least 30 other wild species of Nephelium with edible fruits.

The pulasan is primarily eaten fresh, but can also be used in jams and juices.

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