Muntingia calabura, the sole species in the genus Muntingia, is a flowering plant native to southern Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, western South America south to Peru and Bolivia, the Philippines and Asia.
Common names for this fruit are: (English) calabur tree, capulin, Jamaica cherry, Panama berry, strawberry tree, Singapore cherry, Sabah cherry, Bajelly tree, (Tagalog) aratilis, and saresa, and (Cebuano, Ilokano) mansanitas and gasagase in Kannada.
In the Philippines, the trees are commonly visited by different species of birds. It also attracts bats and nocturnal animals that feasts on the sweet juice of the fruit. This aides for the fast widespread propagation of the muntingia in the Philippine forests which sometimes overpopulate an area in just a couple of years.
With just enough sun and water, it grows with little or no care. This is apparent in the island of Maldives, where Muntingia, locally known as jeymu grows without any care in very salty sand. The Malaysian common name ceri kampung means “village cherry”. In Malaysia the muntingia tree is found in many urban areas lining the sides of streets in front of rows of houses. There, the Muntingia produces great quantities of fruit.
Aratilis’ growing profile
This is a fast-growing fruit tree, it take it only 2 years to be a 3-meter high tree. After the flowers are pollinated, the berries are fast-growing. And, once they ripen, the flowers start to bloom again. After one crop of berries is harvested, the plant continues to flower and produce fruit. The fruit tree will grow for many years. It truly is a “wish-upon-a-star fruit,” isn’t it?
It is a small tree, 7–12 m tall with tiered and slightly drooping branches. This soft red ripe fruit is the size of a small marble, and it is ‘oozing’ with sweet syrupy sap. I find it more deliciously-eaten after being cooled in the refrigerator or after being soaked in ice cubes. I wonder why no one juiced it, or made it into commercial sundaes (sweet ice cream dessert), or icy fruit bars as yet?
Anyway, when I spent vacation in La Loma, Quezon City, I saw more aratilis trees, where the fruit seemed more glowing red than anywhere. Actually, it is like a weed that easily thrives anywhere.
Birds in this city simply loved eating aratilis fruits which has some soft tiny seeds in them! Yes, both the footloose and fancy-free feathery jewels of the sky and I were enjoying plenty of ripe aratilis fruits, with bees lurking these divine nectarines around my watering mouth.
My first bite of this small cherry-like, red aratilis fruit happened when I was in my first grade in Palmview Elementary in Florida, and I think that this marvelous fruit taste will keep lingering in my “taste memory book” for as long as I live!
And do you know what health benefits the aratilis fruit hides?
1. The aratilis fruit fights bacteria. It has strong anti-bacterial properties that can be compared to standard antibiotics, according to a scholar study. It also seems to have a stronger polar antibacterial compound.
2. The aratilis fruit has flavanone contents.
3. The aratilis fruit possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
4. The aratilis fruit has cytotoxic flavonoids that lend themselves as cancer-fighting ability, including the leaves and stems.
5. The aratilis leaf extract has heart protective properties.
6. The aratilis fruit has a good amount of antioxidants, like flavonoids.
I personally believe that this exceptional aratilis fruit has more health benefits than those already known to the scientific communities. I specifically refer to the deep-red or purple-red color of the fruit’s skin, which, in all likelihood, is very rich in powerful antioxidants, even anthocyanin.
And why don’t they explore the possibilities of making healthy drinks with aritilis, even health supplements, and other natural fruit-based remedies?
In addition, the Aratilis tree bark can be made into a rope whereas the trunk provides durable lumber. You will agree that it is definitely among herbs and plants that offer an array of health benefits for humans and other practical (household) uses.
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