Mimusops elengi L.
Family : Sapotaceae
Common Name : ഇലഞ്ഞി (Mal)
Bakul tree (Eng)
IUCN Status : Least concern (LC)-
Spanish cherry is a lovely green small tree of the Indian subcontinent. With its small shiny, thick, narrow, pointed leaves, straight trunk and spreading branches, it is a prized oranamental specimen because it provides a dense shade and during the months from March to July fills the night air with the delicious heady aroma of its tiny cream colored flowers. Flowers are small, star-shaped, yellowish white in color, with a crown rising from the center. Oval leaves, wavy at margin, about 5-16 cm and 3-7 cm wide. In the morning the fragrant flowers which so graciously scented their surroundings with their deep, rich, fragrance during the evening hours, fall to the ground. People love to collect them as they retain their odor for many days after they fall. They are offered in temples and shrines throughout the country. Appears in Indian mythology as Vakula - said to put forth blossoms when sprinkled with nectar from the mouth of lovely women. Fruits are eaten fresh.
Evergreen trees, to 20 m high, bark dark grey, cracked or fissured longitudinally, scaly, rough; exudation milky; young branches brown pubescent. Leaves simple, alternate, spiral, 4-12 x 3.5-7.5 cm; elliptic or elliptic-oblong, apex obtuse to acuminate, base round or obtuse, margin entire, glabrous, coriaceous; stipules lanceolate, caducous; petiole 15-40 mm long, slender, grooved above, pubescent; lateral nerves many, slightly raised beneath, parallel, slender, looped near the margin forming intramarginal nerves; intercostae reticulate. Flowers bisexual, white, fragrant, 1-3 in axillary fascicles, pedicel 1 cm long. Calyx lobes 8 in 2 series of 4 each, thick, outer lanceolate, valvate, pubescent. Corolla 1 cm across; lobes 24, 3 series of 8 each, with hairs on back and margins, acuminate. Stamens 8, alternating with pilose staminodes; filaments 1 mm, anthers oblong, cordate, 3 mm, connectives apiculate; staminodes lanceolate, acuminate, fimbriate, pilose. Ovary 0.1-0.15 cm long, void, hirsute without, 6-8-celled; 1 ovule in each cell; style columnar, 5 mm; stigma minutely fimbriate. Fruit a berry, yellow, ovoid, to 2.5 cm x 1.5 cm, fleshy, epicarp thin; seed usually 1, oblong-ellipsoid, laterally compressed.
Use: Various parts of the tree have medicinal properties. It is used in the treatment and maintenance of oral hygiene. It also prevents bad breath and helps keep the gums healthy.
Distribution : Indo-Malesia
Flowering & Fruiting : December-August