Have you ever seen those fruit bowls with artificial wooden fruit painted to look as if they are real ?
I am sure you all have but did you know that in India there is a tree that produces these large and incredibly green apples- they look like Granny Smith apples - except they are as hard as wood. Isnt that bizarre ? So I set about finding out about this tree.
According to my Tree book and to Wikipedia I have identified it as being the Bael tree.Bael (Aegle marmelos) (also known as Bengal quince, stone apple) and native to India.
The bael fruit has a smooth, woody shell with a green, gray, or yellow peel. It takes about 11 months to ripen on the tree and can reach the size of a large grapefruit or pomelo, and some are even larger. The shell is so hard it must be cracked with a hammer or machete. The fibrous yellow pulp is very aromatic. It has been described as tasting of marmalade and smelling of roses. Numerous hairy seeds are encapsulated in a slimy mucilage.I havent managed to see inside yet as I have failed to crack one open.
My landlady filled me in on all the other details. The inside is used to make a drink like lemonade and also a sherbet. It has a number of medicinal uses - good for dyspepsia and sinusitis though frankly I fail to see how the it can bridge the gap between these two - and the other is chronic constipation. Not a frequent problem in India I hear you shout !
To complete the picture I find out that this is a sacred tree to the Hindus like the Banyan. So next time you see this odd looking tree think of its outer hardness and inner charm.