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The less known egg fruit



The fruits are yellowish to orange with somewhat meaty pulp resembling a cooked egg yolk .

EGG FRUIT (Pautaria campechiana), belonging to the family sapotaceae, is a large, symmetrical, bushy, much branched, evergreen tree.

The crop is indigenous to Malaysia and is also found in the western ghats of South India and the tropical regions of South-east Asia. The tree reaches a height of 20-30 feet.

The leaves are compound, large, leathery, 10-15 inches long and 3 inches broad. The flowers are medium sized borne on terminal and auxiliary inflorescence.

The fruits are yellowish to orange with somewhat meaty pulp similar in appearance and texture to a cooked egg yolk embedded often with a single large seed. At maturity, the strong odour of the pulp is musky and the skin colour turns from glossy to dull.

The fruits should be harvested from the tree after maturity.

The taste of the fruit is unique, rich, sweet and highly nutritive with about 2000 IU/100g of carotene, a precursor of vitamin A.

It is also a good source of protein and vitamin C with 2.5 per cent and 43 mg/100 g respectively. Egg fruit thrives well in tropical and subtropical climates.

Moderate rainfall, frost free and dry climate are ideal for its cultivation. It has a wide adaptability to various soil conditions and grows in soils ranging from loose sandy to heavy clay.

Loams with good drainage and high organic content stimulate better plant growth and yield. It can be grown even on calcareous soils. It can also tolerate salinity and iron deficiency to some extent.

The trees are generally propagated by seeds. Since the seeds have poor visibility they should be sown immediately.

It is also propagated vegetatively by approach grafting. Since no named varieties are available, planting materials should be collected from good bearers.

It can be planted at 8 x 8 m distance accommodating 156 plants per hectare. About 20 kg of well rotten farmyard manure should be applied along with 250 g N a tree a year. In the early stages, mild pruning is necessary to provide a good and strong framework.

The trees come to bearing in 3-4 years and the peak season of fruiting is June-July in the Western Ghats of Kanyakumari district.

The fruits neither mature at the same time nor give good maturity. Ripened fruits should be picked either by hand or by using a pole fitted with a cloth bag.

Since the epidermis of the fruit is very delicate and easily ruptured, they should be handled gently from harvest to the time they reach the consumer. A well-maintained bearing tree can yield 300-400 fruits in a year.

No serious pest and disease affects this crop. The fruits can be eaten fresh either without removing the skin or after peeling and slicing.

The fruit pulp is used in the preparation of milk shake to impart attractive colour and pleasant flavour.

J. Prem Joshua,
M. Selvarajan
& G. V. Rajalingam,

Horticulture Research Station,
Pechipparai-629161

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