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|Garcinia subelliptica, known as fukugi in Japan|
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Garcinia is a plant genus of the family Clusiaceae native to Asia, Australia, tropical and southern Africa, and Polynesia. The number of species is highly disputed, with various sources recognizing between 50 and about 300. Commonly, the plants in this genus are called saptrees, mangosteens (which may also refer specifically to the purple mangosteen, G. mangostana), garcinias or, ambiguously, "monkey fruit".
The fruits are a food source for several animals, such as the archduke butterflies (Lexias) of tropical eastern Asia which relish the sap of overripe mangosteens.
The fruit of most species of Garcinia are eaten locally; some species' fruits are highly esteemed in one region, but unknown just a few hundred kilometres away. The best-known species is the purple mangosteen (G. mangostana), which is now cultivated throughout Southeast Asia and other tropical countries, having become established in the late 20th century. Less well-known, but still of international importance, are kandis (G. forbesii) with small round red fruits with subacid taste and melting flesh, the lemon drop mangosteen (G. intermedia) with yellow fruit that look like a wrinkled lemon, and the thin-skinned orange button mangosteen (G. prainiana).
In addition, mangosteen rind (exocarp) extract is used as a spice. It figures prominently in Kodava culture, and G. multiflora is used to flavour and colour the famous bún riêu soup of Vietnam, where this plant is known as hạt điều màu. Garcinia gummi-gutta yields a spice widely used in South Asia, in particular in Kerala, where it is called kodumpulli.
Most species in Garcinia are known for their gum resin, brownish-yellow from xanthonoids such as mangostin, and used as purgative or cathartic, but most frequently – at least in former times – as a pigment. The colour term gamboge refers to this pigment.
Extracts of the exocarp of certain species – typically G. gummi-gutta, but also purple mangosteen – are often contained in appetite suppressants such as Hydroxycut, Leptoprin or XanGo. But their effectiveness at normal consumption levels is unproven, while at least one case of severe acidosis caused by long-term consumption of such products has been documented. Furthermore, they may contain significant amounts of hydroxycitric acid, which is somewhat toxic and might even destroy the testicles after prolonged use. Bitter kola (G. kola) seeds are used in folk medicine. G. mannii is popular as a chew stick in western Africa, freshening the breath and cleaning the teeth.
G. subelliptica, called fukugi in Japanese, is the floral emblem of Mobuto and Tarama on Okinawa. The Malaysian town of Beruas – often spelled "Bruas" – derives its name from the seashore mangosteen (G. hombroniana), known locally as pokok bruas.
- WCMC (1998)
- Asinelli, M.E.C.; Souza, M.C.o.d.; Mourao, K.t.S.M. (2011). "Fruit ontogeny of Garcinia gardneriana (Planch. & Triana) Zappi (Clusiaceae)". Acta Botanica Brasilica. 25 (43-52).
- Wong & Klemmer (2008)
- Saito et al. (2005)
- Cheek (2004)
- Headly, Robert K.; Chhor, Kylin; Lim, Lam Kheng; Kheang, Lim Hak; Chun, Chen. 1977. Cambodian-English Dictionary. Bureau of Special Research in Modern Languages. The Catholic University of America Press. Washington, D.C. ISBN 0-8132-0509-3
- Cheek, M. (2004). Garcinia kola. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
- Saito, M.; Ueno, M.; Ogino, S.; Kubo, K.; Nagata, J. & Takeuchi, M. (2005): High dose of Garcinia cambogia is effective in suppressing fat accumulation in developing male Zucker obese rats, but highly toxic to the testis. Food and Chemical Toxicology 43(3): 411–419. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2004.11.008 PMID 15680676 (HTML abstract)
- Wong, L.P. & Klemmer, P.J. (2008): Severe lactic acidosis associated with juice of the mangosteen fruit, Garcinia mangostana. American Journal of Kidney Diseases 51(5): 829-833. doi:10.1053/j.ajkd.2007.12.043 (HTML abstract)
- World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) (1998). Garcinia cadelliana. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 23 December 2008.