Aegle marmelos 

Aegle marmelos (L.) Correa

Family     : Rutaceae 

Common Name : കൂവളം (Mal)

 बेल (Hin)

 Bael Tree (Eng)

IUCN Status  Near Threatened (NT)

It is a fruit-bearing tree which is cultivated throughout India, as well as in Sri Lanka, northern Malaya, Java and in the Philippines. The tree, grows up to 15 meters tall and bears thorns and fragrant flowers. Leaves are alternate, pale green, trifoliate; terminal leaflet, 5.7 cm long, 2.8 cm broad, having a long petiole; the two lateral leaflets, almost stalkless, 4.1 cm long, 2.2 cm wide, ovate to lanceolate, leaf-stallk 3.2 cm long. Flowers are greenish white, sweetly scented, bisexual, stalked; stalk 8 mm long; diameter of a fully open flower is 3 cm. Flowers are borne in lateral panicles of about 10 flowers, in leaf axils. The fruit is woody-skinned, 5-15 cm in diameter. The skin of some forms of the fruit is so hard it must be cracked open with a hammer. It has numerous seeds, which are densely covered with fibrous hairs and are embedded in a thick, gluey, aromatic pulp. The fruit is eaten fresh or dried. The juice is strained and sweetened to make a drink.

Deciduous trees to 12 m tall; spines axillary, solitary or paired, straight, stout and sharp. Leaves alternate, 3-foliolate, sometimes 5-foliolate, dimorphic, leaflets subsessile, ovate-elliptic or elliptic-lanceolate, tapering at apex, oblique at base, shallowly crenate-serrate at margin, membranous, pellucid-punctate, pale green; petioles terete to 6 cm long, glabrous or puberulous when young. Inflorescences axillary and terminal, racemose or corymbose, few-flowered, 4-5 cm long; peduncles densely puberulent; pedicels 2-4 mm long. Flowers bisexual, fragrant. Calyx cupular, finely puberulent, caducous; lobes 4 or 5, 3-angled. Petals 5, white above and greenish below, ovate-oblong, subequal, ca. 12 x 6 mm, spreading, glabrous, fleshy. Stamens numerous in 2 or 3 series, free or basally subconnate, unequal; filaments subulate, ca 7 mm long, glandular; anthers linear-oblong, ca 8 mm long. Disc glabrous, greenish. Ovary ovoid, 4-5 mm long, faintly ridged, 10-loculed; ovules many, 2-seriate; style short; stigma oblong, longitudinally grooved. Berries ovoid, 6-10 cm across, woody, yellowish, many seeded; seeds oblong and flat, embedded in the pulp.

Use: All parts of the bael plant consist of immense medicinal properties. The herbal medicinal preparations of bael are used to treat chronic diarrhea, dysentery, peptic ulcers, laxative for astringency, and respiratory ailment.

Distribution : India and Sri Lanka; widely cultivated in South East Asia, Malesia, Tropical Africa and the United States

Flowering & Fruiting : March-May