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Garcinia subelliptica (200703).jpg
Garcinia subelliptica, known as fukugi in Japan
Scientific classification


At least 50, see text


Brindonia Thouars
Cambogia L.
Clusianthemum Vieill.
Mangostana Gaertn.
Oxycarpus Lour.
Pentaphalangium Warb.
Rheedia L.
Septogarcinia Kosterm.
Tripetalum K.Schum.
Tsimatimia Jum. & H.Perrier
Verticillaria Ruiz & Pav.
Xanthochymus Roxb.

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 taxa as specifically valid. 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".

Garcinia are evergreen treesand shrubs, dioecious and in several cases apomictic. Many species are threatened due to habitat destruction, and at least G. cadelliana from South Andaman Island is almost or even completely extinct already[1].

The fruit are a food source for several animals, such as the archduke butterflies (Lexias) of tropical eastern Asia which relish the sap of overripe mangosteens.


Whole (top right) and opened fruits of the Purple Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana); note the white edible arils

Many species of Garcinia have fruit with edible arils. But most 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. Gambooge (G. gummi-gutta) yields a spice widely used in South Asia, in particular in Kerala, where it is called kodumpulli.

Gamboge, the colour of Garcinia resin

Most species in Garcinia are known for their gum resin, brownish-yellow from xanthones such as mangostin and used as purgative or cathartic, but most frequently – at least in former times – as a pigment. The colour term "gamboge" references the Gambooge, whose obsolete scientific name is G. cambogia.

Hydroxycitric acid, a toxic appetite suppressant found in mangosteen rind

Extracts of the exocarp of certain species – typically Gambooge, 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[2]. Furthermore, they may contain significant amounts of hydroxycitric acid which is somewhat toxic and might even destroy the testicles after prolonged use[3]. Fruit extracts from Bitter Kola (G. kola) have been claimed to be effective at stopping Ebola virus replication in laboratory tests[citation needed]; its seeds are used in folk medicine. G. mannii is popular as a chewstick in western Africa[4], 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.

Selected species


  1. ^ WCMC (1998)
  2. ^ Wong & Klemmer (2008)
  3. ^ Saito et al. (2005)
  4. ^ Cheek (2004)


  • Cheek, M. (2004). "Garcinia kola". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 23 December 2008. templatestyles stripmarker in |authors= at position 1 (help)CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  • 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 (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". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 23 December 2008. templatestyles stripmarker in |authors= at position 1 (help)CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)

External links