Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Synonyms : Limonia elephantum (Correa) Panigrahi, Limonia acidissima L., Schinus limonia L.


Current name: Feronia limonia
Authority: (L.) Swingle

Family: Rutaceae

Indian Names :

Beng. : Kayat Bael, Kavataleal, Kavita
Eng. : Wood Apple,
Guj. : Kotha, Kondhu
Hindi : Kaitha
Kan. : Bekalu, Belada hannu, Bilvara, Belalu, Balada, Haminamara
Mar. : Kavatha
Punj. : Kainth
Tam. : Vilamaram, Vilangai
Tel. : Velaga
Urdu : Kaith

History of cultivation:
The wood-apple is native and common in India and Sri Lanka where it is cultivated along roads and edges of fields and occasionally in orchards. It is also frequently grown throughout Southeast Asia, in northern Malaysia and on Penang Island. In India, the fruit was traditionally a "poor man's food" until processing techniques were developed in the mid-1950's.

Natural Habitat

The wood-apple is native and common in dry plains. It prefers a monsoon climate with a distinct dry season. The tree grows up to an elevation of 450 m in the western Himalayas.

Geographic distribution

Native : India, Sri Lanka
Exotic : Malaysia

Propagation methods:
The wood-apple is generally grown from seeds. Multiplication may also be by root cuttings, air-layers, or by budding onto self-seedlings to induce dwarfing and precociousness.

MORPHOLOGY: A moderate-sized tree with straight sharp strong spines 1.2-3.7 cm long. Leaves smelling of aniseed, alternate, imparipinnate; petiole and rhachis flat, often narrowly winged; leaflets 3-9, opposite, 2.5-5 by 1.2-2.5 cm., cuneate or obovate, tip often crenulated. Calyx small, 5-6 lobed; lobes triangular. Petals 5-6, free, elliptic-oblong, 5 mm. long, spreading or deflexed. Stamens 10-12, l-seriate; filaments equal subulate, densely hairy at the base within; anthers large, linear-oblong. Ovary glabrous sessile. Fruits 5-6.3 cm., globose, hard; pericarp woody, rough, grey-colored. Seeds embedded in an edible pulp.

ETHNOMEDICAL USES: Various parts of wood apple have been utilized against various ailments in ethnomedicine.

Unripe Fruits: The unripe fruits are sour, aromatic, astringent, constipating, alexipharmic and are useful in diarrhoea, pruritus and pharyngodynia. The unripe fruit is alexipharmic, astringent to the bowels; removes itching of the body; increases “vata” , “pita”, and “kapha”. Useful in whooping cough. The Hindus consider the unripe fruit to be a useful astringent in diarrhoea and dysentery. It is used as substitute for bael (Eagle marmelos) in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery.

Ripe Fruits: In Ayurveda the fruits are considered as sour, sweet, acrid, with flavour and taste; difficult to digest; refrigerant, aphrodisiac, alexipharmic; cures cough, dysentery, heart diseases, vomiting; removes biliousness, “vata”, “tridosah”, and blood impurities, fatigue, thirst, hiccough; good for throat, asthma, consumption, tumours, opthalmia, leucorrhoea, the juice put in the ear cures earache. According to Yunani the fruits are cardiotonic, tonic to the liver and the lungs, astringent and binding, diuretic, strengthening the gums; the juice is good for stomtitis, and sore throat; useful in biliousness; topically it relieves pain due to stings of wasps and other insects. They are beneficial in scurvy and sore throat. Fruit pulp is sour, sweet, edible stomachic, stimulant and astringent. The pulp is applied externally as a remedy for the bites of venous insects. Pulp with honey and pipli is given for hiccup and difficulty of breathing. Pulp is used for affections of gums and throat and to tone the breast. Fruit pulp is also used by tribal of Rewa District of Madhya Pradesh against boils and amoebiosis. 50 g pulp of the ripe fruit is mixed in butter milk and taken once daily, for 3 days as vermifuge. 10 g of ripe fruit along with 5 g jiggery is given once a day for 1 month against diabeties.

Leaves: The leaves are aromatic and carminative, and are prescribed in the indigestions and slight bowel affections of children. The juice of leaves given to children suffering from stomach troubles. The leaves are used in Shahjahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh as astringent, good for vomiting, hiccough and dysentery. The leaves are used traditionally in Ayurveda as antiemetic, aromatic, astringent, carminative, cardiotonic, expectorant, purgative, sudorific, useful in anorexia, bronchitis, calculus, cardiac debility, cough, diarrhoea, gastropathy, hiccup, and in vitiated conditions of vayu.

Barks: The bark is aromatic and cooling, and is useful in vitiated conditions of pitta. The bark is occasionally prescribed for biliousness and useful in liver diseases.

Transparent gummy substance exuding from the steam when cut and broken resembling gum Arabic, may be used in bowel affections and to relive tenesmus; reduced to powder and mixed with honey it is given in dysentery and diarrhoea. The gum is demulcent and constipating, and is useful in diarrhoea, dysentery, gastropathy, haemorrhoids and diabetes.

PHYTOCHEMISTRY: Various parts of Feronia limonia contain different chemical components which may be responsible for their varied traditional uses.

Fruits:The fruit contains fruit acids, vitamins and mineral. The dried pulp contains 15% of citric acid, and a small quantity of deliquescent ash consisting of potassium, calcium and iron salt. Seeds and fruits contained oil and protein; oil composed of palmitic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids besides traces of palmitoleic and stearic acids; β-sitosterol, β-amyrin, lupeol and stigmasterol from unsaponifiable matter of seed oil. An acidic heteropolysaccharide has been isolated from the ripe fruit which shows antitumor activity against ascites carcinoma cell growth. Three volatile flavour components are obtained from fresh wood apple fruit; they are namely methyl hexanoate, ethyl3-hydroxyhexanoate, and butanoic acid. The acid –insoluble fraction of the ethereal extract of the dry whole unripe fruit gives stegmasterol. From the methanol extract of defatted fruits of wood apple a new tyramine derivative, dihydroxy acidissiminol was obtained. Two other tyramine derivatives namely, acidissiminol eoxide and N-benzoyl tyramine are also reported.

Leaves: The leaves and stems contain the coumarins, luvangetin, xanthotoxin and marmesin; the triterpenoids, lupeol and limonin; and the steroids, sitosterol and sitosterol-O- β-D-glucoside. Anisic acid isolated from leaf essential oil as well as methylchavicol, trans-anethole, thymol and p-cymen-7-ol. Estragole, trans-anethole and cis-anethole also determined in leaf oil. The leaves after hydrodistillation yielded an essential oil (0.4%). The essential oil from the leaves has been found rich in methyl chavicol, linalool, caryophyllene, cis-amethole, p-methoxy phenyl-2-propanone, elemicine, 3,4-dimethoxy benzaldehyde and alcohol. Light petroleum ether extract of the leaves afforded stigmasterol; the ether extract gave psorlerin and bergapten while ethyl acetate extract yielded orienthin, vitexin and saporarin. The essential oil is considered as a substitute for anise and funnel oil.

Barks: Two unidentified compounds feronolide (m.p. 115°C) and feonone (m.p. 195°C) isolated from the bark. The stem bark yielded 5,3-dihydroxy-4-methoxy-6,6-dimethylchromeno-flavone along with several known compounds including an alkaloid, five coumarins, a flavonone, a lignin, three sterols and a triterpene.

Root: The root and root bark were found to contain amino acids, phenolic compounds, sterol and tannins in addition to the alkaloid. Among the amino acids, phenyl alanine, tyrosine and cysteine were found. Maltose and inosital were the sugars present. Phenolic compounds like p-cresol and stigmasterols were also detected. Aurapten, bergapten, isoimpinelline, 6-methoxy-7-geranyloxycoumarin and marmesin isolated from root bark. Roots yielded geranyl umbelliferone, bergapten, osthol, isopimpinelline,xanthotoxin, marmesin and marmin. A new monterpenoidfuranocoumarin lactone (fernolin) is isolated from roots of wood apple and its structure is established on the basis of chemical reactions and spectral studies. The petroleum ether extract showed the presence of geranyl umbelliferone, bergapten and osthol whereas the ethanolic extract of roots showed presence of isopimpinelline, xanthotoxin, marmesin and marmin. The roots yielded a flavonoid characterized as 5-hydroxy-2-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-7-methoxy-6-(3-methylbut-2-enyl) chroman-4-one and it is characterized by UV, IR, NMR and mass spectral studies.

Antibacterial Activity: The essential oil from the leaves of the plant exhibit strong to moderate activity against most of the test organisms. Bacillus subtilis, Escherchia coli, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Shigella sp,. Aspergillus niger, Rhixopus nodusus, Trichophyton rubrum 5S and Trichoderma viride had remarkable susceptibility to the oil. The oil of wood apple was highly active against Streptococcus aureus and hysterophorus by using filter paper disc method. The essential oil of the plant showed strong activity against Clostridium velchii. Feronia leaf extract was ineffective on Bacillus pumilus and X. campestris, Vibrio cholerae was found quite sensitive to this extract.

Antilarvicidal Activity: Acetone extract of the dried leaves found to be effective against larvae of Culex quinquefasciatus, Anopheles stephensi and Aedes aegypti, with LC50 of 129.24, 79.58 and 57.23 ppm, respectively.

Antitumor Activity: Peptic polysaccharide from the plant showed significant in vivo Ehrlich ascites carcinoma cell growth inhibition.

Antifungal Activity: The essential oil from the leaves of the plant exhibited antifungal activity against eight tested fungi. CNS Depressant and CVS Depressant Activity The isolated alkaloids from the root and root bark had a depressant action on central nervous system and heart

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