Bael or Wood Apple
NATURAL AIR CLEANSER
Bael or Golden Apple or Wood Apple, is a native of India. In Sanskrit its called Bilva(Sanskrit), in Assam and Bengal called as Bel, Bilva pandu in telgu, Belo in Oriya.
Botanical name: Aeglemarmelos
Nature of herb
Aegle marmelos – Bael Tree,Golden Apple or Wood apple– is a mid-size, slow-growing deciduous tree native to India and south-east Asia. This tree is slender, aromatic and gum bearing tree with branches having spines and trifoliate leaves. It is known by various other names in different languages such as Bengal quince, Bilva(Sanskrit), Bilva pandu(telgu), Belo(Oriya). Utilization of Bael in day to day life has great nutritional, environmental and commercial importance. It has been used since time immemorial in traditional systems of medicine for relieving constipation, diarrhea, dysentery, peptic ulcers and respiratory infections. Every part of the Bael tree such as fruits, roots, leaves, stem, and bark are used in traditional curative preparations.
It is one of the sacred trees of India and its leaves are used in the worship of Lord Shiva. It also finds its mention in ancient Indian scriptures such as Vedas and Puranas. In Burma it is traditionally used to make paints and grown in Egyptian gardens of Surinam and Trinidad. In Bangladesh, it is used for fertility control while in Sri-lanka, it is used in diabetes..
Bael plant acts as a ‘sink’ for chemical pollutants as it absorbs poisonous gases from the atmosphere and make them inert. It is a member of the plants species group known as ‘climate purifiers’ which emit greater percentage of oxygen in sunlight as compared to other plants. The tree is also a member of ‘fragrant’ species whose flowers and volatile vapours neutralize bad odors of decaying organic matter in air.
It is a medium sized deciduous tree with thorny branches and has a gray bark.
The leaves are trifoliate borne alternately, measuring 5-14 x 2–6 cm in length, having a pointed tip and rounded base. Young leaves are pale green or pinkish in color bearing fine hairs while mature leaves are dark green and completely smooth.
The bark is pale brown or grayish, smooth or finely fissured and flaking, armed with long straight spines, 1.2-2.5 cm singly or in pairs, often with slimy sap oozing out from cut parts. The gum is also described as a clear, gummy sap, resembling gum, which exudes from wounded branches and hangs down in long strands, becoming solid gradually.
The roots are of fibrous type.
Flowers are borne during early summer, in clusters of 4 to 7 along the young branchlets with fleshy petals, green outside, yellowish inside, and are pleasantly fragrant.
Fruits are spherical to oval in shape with a diameter of 2 to 4 inch bearing a thin, hard and woody shell. It is green-ish when unripe and turns yellow when completely ripe. The pulp of the fruit is divided into 8 - 15 segments. The pulp is yellow, soft, pasty, sweet, resinous and fragrant. Fruition occurs in the month of May and June.
The seeds are embedded in the pulp and are small (nearly 1 cm in length), hard, flattened-oblong, bearing woolly hairs and each enclosed in a sac of adhesive transparent mucilage that solidifies on drying.
Aegle marmelos is a subtropical plant and grows up to an altitude of 1,200 m altitude from sea level. It grows well in the dry forests on hilly and plain areas and is a widely distributed plant and found in India and in most parts of Asian sub-continent .In India it found in Sub-Himalayan tracts from Jhelum eastwards to West Bengal, in central and south India. It found almost in all the states of India.
Although Bael is a fruit crop of subtropical origin, it has got a wider adaptability and can perform equally well in tropical, arid and semi-arid regions. It survives from upto an elevation of 1,200 m where the mean annual temperature can range from -6 to 48°c.
The tree grows best on rich, well-drained soil, but it can also grow well in swampy, alkaline or stony soils having pH range from 5 to 8. It requires pronounced dry season to give fruit. In India it has the reputation of thriving where other fruit trees cannot survive.
- Aids in digestion:Bael is excellent for digestion because it helps destroy worms in the intestine and is a recommended as a remedy for chronic dysentery. The trunk and branches of wood apple trees yield a gum-like substance called ‘Feronia gum’. It is commonly used in curing diarrhea and dysentery. Bael fruit is also recommended for people with peptic ulcer and piles. The laxative property of bael also helps to avoid constipation and the subsequent, pain, discomfort and associated health risks of that condition. These, combined with the antifungal and anti-parasitic activities, make this fruit ideal for enhancing the digestive health. Dried pulp of raw Bael is a quick remedy to stop loose motion.
- Blood purifier: As little as 50 mg Bael fruit juice mixed with warm water and sugar is recommended for blood purification and removal of toxins that cause extensive damage to the body.
- Effective for Ear Aches: The root of the wood apple tree is integral to the management and treatment of ear conditions and pain.
- Prevention of Scurvy: Deficiency of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) causes scurvy, a potentially life-threatening condition. This fruit is rich in vitamin C; it can prevent the development of scurvy when consumed on a daily basis. The high level of vitamin C also helps increases the strength and potency of the immune system.
- Control Diabetes: The ‘Feronia gum’, from the trunk and branches of this tree, counteracts diabetes by managing the flow, secretion, and balance of sugars in the bloodstream. By managing the insulin and glucose levels, it prevents the spikes and plunges that can be dangerous to diabetics.
- Relieve Respiratory Problems: Leaves of this tree help people avoid chronic or recurring colds and related respiratory conditions, curing sore throat and treating cough. The leaves help in loosening phlegm and eliminating the build up in the respiratory system. 5 gm of Bael leaves are ground. 1 teaspoon of honey is added and consumed every morning and evening for relief from asthma.
- Boost Energy: 100g of fruit pulp provides 140 calories, and the nutrients boost the organ activity and metabolic speed. The high protein content also means that your body can heal faster and the muscles can grow stronger, further boosting the energy.
- Good for Kidney: Regular consumption of Bael is recommended for people with kidney disorders as it possesses detoxifying properties
- Protect Liver Health: As a good source of beta-carotene, Bael fruit can cure liver problems. They contain thiamine and riboflavin, both of which are known as liver health boosters.
- Prevents cancer: Studies have confirmed that Bael inhibits tumor formation and hence prevents cancer.
- Leaves are also useful for the treatment of Jaundice, leucorrhea, wounds, deafness, conjunctivitis.
- Oil prepared from leaves is proved to stop insect infestation.
- The leaf juice with honey is used during fever and cold.
- Tonic prepared from flowers can be used in epilepsy.
- The detergent action of the fruit pulp can be employed in washing clothes.
- The root, bark and leaves are used in the treatment of snake bites.
- Equal quantity of fruit pulp, leaves and root are ground and the juice is extracted. To this 10 gm honey is added and consumed for healing wounds.
- Bael essential oil is effective against 21 species of bacteria and acts as a natural food preservative as it has anti fungal properties.
- The gum from seeds is used as household glue and adhesive by jewelers. If mixed with lime, it is used for waterproofing walls and when mixed with cement, it is used for waterproofing walls.
- Some fruit pulp mixed with hot mustard oil is applied to swollen joints twice a day in morning for good relief.
- The roots and bark of the tree are used for treating fever and malaria.
- Mature fruits are used to make jam with the addition of citric acid.
- The rind of the unripe fruit is employed in tanning and also yields a yellow dye for calico and silk fabrics
- The essential oil of the leaves contains d-limonene, 56% a-d-phellandrene, cineol, citronellal, citral; 17% p-cyrnene, 5% cumin aldehyde. The limonene-rich oil has been distilled from the rind for scenting hair oil.
- The shells of the dried fruits with the pulp removed are used as cups and small containers. They have been fashioned into ornamental pill and snuff boxes.
Various classes of chemical compounds have been isolated from different parts of bael, viz. Alkaloids, Coumarins, Terpenoids, fatty acids and amino acids. Leaves of bael contain Phenylpropanoids and Terpenoids, which give them their potential pharmacological activity. Leaves show hypoglycemic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer ,chemo-preventive and anti-oxidative activities. Compounds obtained from the fruit of Bael are Hexanal, Isoamyl acetate, Limonene, β-phellandrene, p-cymenne, Acetoin, (E)-2-octenal, (E,E)-2,4-heptadienal, dehydro-p-cymene, Linalool oxide, 3,5- Octadiene-2-one, α-cubebene, trans-p-mentha-2,8-dienol,Citronellal, β-cubebene, β-caryophyllene, Hexadecane, Pulegone, αhumulene, Verbenone, Carvone, Carvyl acetate, dihydro-β-ionone, E-6,10-dimethyl-5,9-undecadien-2-one, β-ionone, Caryophylleneoxide.
Bael is commonly propagated from seeds and root suckers. Budding, patch or shield on seedling root stocks in June or July gives very good success. Air layering is also successful in tropical climates. The seeds cannot be stored and hence have to be sown in June or July on a seed bed well-prepared with decomposed farmyard manure and sand. Seeds germinate within 2-3 weeks and the seedlings become ready for transplantation in 2-3 months. The seedlings that will be used as root-stock for budding will be ready after one year.
Rainy season is the best time for planting but it can also be done in spring season if irrigation facilities are available. Planting pits of 1m × 1m ×1m size are dug at least one month prior to onset of monsoon. Planting pits have to be kept open for 20-25 days thereafter; each pit is filled with a mixture of top soil and 10-15 kg of FYM. This may be followed by irrigation to settle down the soil in pits. If depression takes place due to irrigation, add pit filling mixture to the pit. Plant the Bael sapling at the center of pit and provide support to the plant. A basin is made around it and irrigated gently. Mulching is done with dry leaves to conserve moisture.
Young plants need to be irrigated regularly in summer and at one month interval during winter for their rapid growth and establishment. In fruit bearing trees irrigation is not required in dry summer, as it sheds leaves and resists hot dry summers. Irrigation can be applied at the time of new leaf emergence.
- Plant nutrients
Application of 10kg of farmyard manure along with organic sources of nitrogen potassium and phosphorus such as poultry manure and vermi-compost per plant to a one-year-old plant is required. Manure should be mixed well in surface soil and irrigated immediately. This dose should be increased every year as per the growth rate.
Pruning is done twice in a year, once in May and other in August. Pruning is limited to the removal of dead and diseased twigs/branches in May or August
- Plant protection
Many types of insects are found to be feeding on Bael (Phyllocnistis citrella, Aonidiella aurantii, Papilio demoleus) which can be controlled by a foliar spay of need seed oil or pyretheum.
Bael Fruit takes around 8-10 months to mature and 10-12 months for ripening after fruit set. Maturity can be judged by the change in shell color from dark green to yellowish green. Mature fruit should be harvested individually with a 5 cm fruit stalk.
The fruits can be stored at room temperature for two weeks. At 10ºC, it can be kept up to three months. The quality of fruits is greatly associated with the weight and size of the seed-sacs. The larger and heavier the seed sacs, the greater is the amount of mucilage and poorer the quality.
Commercial UsesUses in Ayurveda
- The roots are astringent, bitter and febrifuge and are used in treating diarrhea, dysentery, dyspepsia, stomachalgia, seminal weakness, vomiting, intermittent fever and swellings.
- Root is one of the ingredients of "Dashmula", a common Ayurvedic formulation, particularly useful in loss of appetite and puerperal diseases (the problems which arise in period between child birth and the return of the womb to its normal condition). The root bark has been used particularly in intermittent fevers and also as a fish poison
- The leaves are useful as laxative, febrifuge and expectorant, also in ophthalmia, deafness, inflammations, catarrh, diabetes and asthmatic complaints.
- The fruits are useful in diarrhoea, dysentery, stomachalgia, and good for heart and brain.
- Flowers are used to stop vomiting.
Uses in Unani
- Uses are the same as in Ayurvedic medicine.
Medicinal uses:Bael extracts have been used in preparing the following medicines
- Bilva Tail: It is a herbal oil used in Ayurvedic treatment of ear diseases such as hearing difficulties, tinnitus etc.
- Vilwadi Gulika: It is a tablet, used in Ayurvedic treatment bites from cobra, scorpion, rodents, insects, spiders, gastro enteritis, dyspepsia, fever, toxic and psychological conditions.
- Diarex: As an antioxidant, Diarex restores GI health. Diarex’s anti-inflammatory and demulcent properties facilitate healing of the intestinal mucosa, and its antispasmodic action alleviates abdominal colic associated with bowel infection.
- Bael Tablets: these tablets are used for reducing the frequency of bowel movements and calms intestinal spasms and pain and in controlling diarrhea-causing microorganisms (E. coli, giardia, rotavirus) and its toxic effects on the intestines. It helps protect and prevent ulceration of the inner mucous lining of the stomach and intestines and supports intestinal flora and aids healthy digestion.
Preserve and Candy
Preserve and candy are prepared from mature (tender green fruit), whole or large pieces of fruits in which sugar is impregnated till it becomes tender and transparent minimum fruit portion and minimum total soluble solids in preserves should be 55 and 70%,respectively. Fruits in general contain more than 75% water and get spoiled quickly if not stored properly. Removal of water from fruits is known to help in longer period of storage. The osmotic dehydration techniques not only enables the storage of fruits for a longer period but also preserve the flavor, color and texture of the product to a great extent and prevents its microbial spoilage.
Fruit toffees generally are more nutritious than ordinary toffees, and bael fruit pulp will provide even better toffees because of its nutritional and medicinal properties. Bael fruit toffees was successfully prepared by mixing 40 parts of cane sugar, 4.5 parts of glucose, 10 parts of skim milk powder and 6 parts of hydrogenated fat to 100 parts of extracted pulp.
Fruit beverages commercially contain at least 25 per cent fruit pulp or juice and 40-50 per cent TSS, besides 1 per cent acid. The squash from bael fruit pulp was prepared by adjusting the TSS and by adding the preservatives like sodium metabisulphite @350 ppm SO2 and sodium benzoate @ 1g/litre. The squash was then filled in sterilized bottles, crowned and pasteurized at 80 oC for 30 minute fallowed by cooling and wax sealing to insure air tightness.
The wood of Bael is yellowish-grey in color and hard when freshly cut. It is employed in house building, cart construction, agricultural implements, cattle sheds, carving and also to pestles and comb.
It is non-edible and acts as a good adhesive often used for book binding
Bael tree has been identified as a suitable wind breaker/barrier.