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ArborealSpecies Plant

Garcinia xanthochymus

Garcinia xanthochymus

The false mangosteen o eggtree, gambogetree, Himalayan garcinia, Mysore gamboge, sour mangosteen, yellow mangosteen (Garcinia xanthochymus Hook.f. ex T.Anderson 1874) is a small tree species belonging to the Clusiaceae family.

Systematic –
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Magnoliopsida,
Order Theales,
Clusiaceae family,
Garcinia genus,
Species G. xanthochymus.
The terms are synonymous:
– Garcinia pictoria (Roxb.) Dunn (1915);
– Garcinia pictoria (Roxb.) Engl. (1925);
– Garcinia roxburghii Kurz (1875);
– Garcinia tinctoria (DC.) Dunn (1915);
– Garcinia tinctoria (DC.) W.Wight (1909);
– Xanthochymus pictorius Roxb. (1805);
– Xanthochymus tinctorius DC. (1824).

Etymology –
The term Garcinia was given in honor of the French botanist Laurent Garcin (1683-1751).
The specific epithet xanthochymus comes from the Greek “xanthos”, meaning yellow and “chymos” meaning juice, in reference to its characteristics.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Garcinia xanthochymus is a plant that grows in an area that goes from India, southern China and Japan through Indochina to peninsular Malaysia. In detail, it is present in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China (Guangxi and Yunnan), India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Laos, Nepal, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
Its natural habitat is that of the dense humid forests present in the valleys or hills, at altitudes between 0 and 1400 meters.

Description –
Garcinia xanthochymus is an evergreen plant that grows in the form of a shrub or small erect tree, pyramidal in shape, up to 10 m tall, very branched, with horizontal or pendulous branches with a quadrangular section and light brown bark that flakes off into small rounded scales . It is a dioecious plant (with plants having only male or only female flowers), but sometimes male plants can also bear bisexual flowers.
It has opposite, drooping, oblong-shaped leaves, 20-35 cm long and 4-10 cm wide, of a shiny dark green colour. The petioles are robust, 1.5-2.5 cm long.
The inflorescences are found on the tops and arise in the axils of the fallen leaves; they are composed of 2-10 flowers of 1.8 cm in diameter with five greenish white petals; The fruits are edible and are subglobose berries with a pointed apex, green in color when immature, intense yellow when ripe, 5-8 cm long and containing yellow pulp.
The plants flower from March to May, while the fruits are formed from August to November.
Inside there are from one to 4 seeds, but more frequently two.

Cultivation –
Garcinia xanthochymus is a tree that is collected in the wild, and is also cultivated and semi-cultivated, for its edible fruits and coloring substance.
This plant is a source of “gamboge”, a gum-resin with a wide range of uses that is commonly harvested from several species of this genus and traded internationally.
For its cultivation, keep in mind that it is a plant of the hot and humid tropics, where it is found at altitudes of up to 1,400 meters.
It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are between 70 and 80 degrees F, but can tolerate 60 to 100 degrees F.
The plants tolerate occasional light frosts and prefer an average annual rainfall of 1,500 – 2,000 mm, but will tolerate 1,200 – 2,500 mm.
The exposure must be in full sun or semi shade and it is not particularly demanding regarding the soil, as long as it is draining and almost constantly humid, including poor soils and soils with a high pH; In fact, it prefers a pH between 6 and 7.5, tolerating 5.5 – 8.
It is a very slow growing plant; trees can start producing fruit when they are 7-8 years old.
Flowering usually occurs after a period of severe drought and can occur twice a year.
The plant reproduces by seed which germinates easily, but having a short germination period, it must be planted as soon as possible; however it also reproduces by cutting and layering.

Customs and Traditions –
Garcinia xanthochymus is a plant that is known by various common names; among these we report the local ones of: defol (ডেফল) in Bengal, tepor tenga (টেপৰ টেঙা) in Assam and heirangoi (হৈরাংগোই) in Manipur.
Other common names are: eggtree, false mangosteen, gambogetree, Himalayan garcinia, Mysore gamboge, sour mangosteen, yellow mangosteen (English); gamboge des teinturiers, mangoustan amer (French); mangostão amarelo (Portuguese); gurka, mundu (Spanish).
The fruits of this plant are very rich in vitamin C, have a sweet and sour flavor considered by many to be pleasant, and are eaten fresh with sugar or used to make jams.
The pulp is also used as a substitute for tamarind in curries. The dried juice of the fruits and the latex, of an intense yellow colour, are used as a colourant, particularly in water colours.
Extracts from various parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine. Laboratory studies have highlighted, among other things, the presence in the leaves of particular polyphenols, xanthones, which have promising antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antimicrobial pharmacological properties.
Furthermore, the species is often used as a rootstock for Garcinia mangostana.
Among other relevant uses, it is reported that Gamboge, a gum resin obtained from the plant, is used as a yellow dye, as a highlighter and in paints, watercolors, etc. The dye is often used to dye the robes of Buddhist priests.
Gamboge is a gum resin obtained from the bark, branches and fruits of various species of the Garcinia genus. It contains approximately 70 – 80% resin with 15 – 25% gum and is used primarily as a pigment, being used to dye fabrics (the yellow silk robes of Buddhist monks are often dyed with it), as well as providing a golden yellow color, dyes in varnishes, lacquers, paints, inks, watercolors, etc.
Furthermore, the wood of this plant is dark greyish-brown, fine-grained, strong and very hard. Good quality, but generally unused.

Preparation Method –
Garcinia xanthochymus is a plant with food and medicinal uses, or for obtaining resins and dyes.
The fruits are eaten raw or cooked; they have a thin skin and are quite acidic.
They have a pleasant, acidic flavor and are mainly used as breakfast fruits.
They can be eaten fresh, used in sorbets, jams, curries and vinegars or as flavorings in other foods; they are also a rich source of citric acid.
In the medicinal field the fruit is antiscorbutic, cholagogue, refreshing, emollient and demulcent and is used for the same purposes as Garcinia indica.
The seeds produce up to 17% oil and the juice of the fruit is used as a colourant.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

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