|Dillenia indica leaves, fruits & buds in Kolkata, West Bengal, India.|
Dillenia indica (elephant apple, chulta/chalta or ouu) is a species of Dillenia native to southeastern Asia, from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka east to southwestern China (Yunnan) and Vietnam, and south through Thailand to Malaysia and Indonesia.
It is an evergreen large shrub or small to medium-sized tree growing to 15 m tall. The leaves are 15–36 cm long, with a conspicuously corrugated surface with impressed veins. Its branches are used to make good firewood. The flowers are large, 15–20 cm diameter, with five white petals and numerous yellow stamens. Its characteristic round fruits are large, greenish yellow, have many seeds and are edible. The fruit is a 5–12 cm diameter aggregate of 15 carpels, each carpel containing five seeds embedded in an edible but fibrous pulp.
The fruit pulp is bitter-sour and used in Indian cuisine in curries, jam (ouu khatta), and jellies. It is often mixed with coconut and spices to make chutneys. It is extensively used in Dal and in fish preparations in Assam.
In India, it is not commercially cultivated, but is found wild in the Terai & Dooars region and Katha Reserve Forest (RF), Burihiding RF, Duarmara RF, Tarani RF, Dumduma RF, Nalni RF, Philobari RF, Takowani RF, Kakojan RF, Digboi RF, Bogapani RF and Upper Dihing RF. Because it is a main source of food for elephants, monkeys and deer, collection of fruit from the core areas of the forest are prohibited. Commercial sale of the fruit is also prohibited in an effort to help the food-chain system of the forest from dismantling totally. This fruit is also known as the elephant apple, owtenga (ঔটেঙা) in Assamese, chalta (চালতা) in Bengali, ouu (ଓଉ) in Oriya.
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