|Velvet apple tree|
Kamagong, mabolo, tálang (all in the Philippines), butter fruit (Singapore) or velvet apple (scientific name: Diospyros blancoi) is a plant of the genus Diospyros of ebony trees and persimmons. Its edible fruit has a skin covered in a fine, velvety fur which is usually reddish-brown, and soft, creamy, pink flesh, with a taste and aroma comparable to fruit cream cheese (the aroma of the fruit itself, however, is unpleasant, comparable to rotten cheese or cat feces, inspiring names like the French "Caca de Chat" in Reunion). It is native to the Philippines, where kamagong usually refers to the entire tree, and mabolo or tálang is applied to the fruit. It is also found in the Micronesian Islands of Palau, known as matib (Palauan). Velvet apple trees are found, but rare, in Sri Lanka too.
It is a dioecious tropical tree that grows well in a diversity of soil, from the sea level to the 2,400 feet above sea level. Seed trees are normally planted 30 or 45 feet from each other; this one can be planted from 25 to 30 feet from each other. It needs a good distribution of rainfall through the year. Trees that were planted by seeds could take 6 or 7 years to give out fruit, but trees that were propagated by cuttings produce fruit in 3 or 4 years. It is a very productive tree. In Puerto Rico it produces through the months of August and October. In Cebu, Philippines there is a barangay named after the fruit itself. In Bangladesh it is known as 'bilati gab' (=foreign gab), to distinguish it from 'gab' (Diospyros peregrina).
The fact that fruits vary greatly - in shape, color, hairiness and taste - suggests that there is a great deal of genetic variation in the plant. Seedless cultivars exist, and are highly favored since in the normal varieties the large seeds occupy a considerable volume of the fruit.
Kamagong timber is extremely dense and hard and is famous for its dark color. Like many other very hard woods, it is sometimes called "iron wood" because its wood is iron-like and nearly unbreakable.
Finished products from kamagong wood, such as fine furniture and decoratives can be exported provided that they are properly documented and approved by the Customs authorities. Kamagong is also popular for martial arts training implements such as bokkens and eskrima sticks.
The leaves of velvet apple trees have been shown to contain isoarborinol methyl ether (also called cylindrin) and fatty esters of α- and β-amyrin. Both isoarborinol methyl ether and the amyrin mixture demonstrated antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties have also been shown for the isolated amyrin mixture.
It is an endangered tree species and protected by Philippine law - it is illegal to export kamagong timber from the country without special permission from the Bureau of Forestry, Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Junior synonyms of D. blancoi are:
- Cavanillea philippensis Desr.
- Diospyros discolor Willd. (nom. illeg.)
- Diospyros philippensis (Desr.) Gürke (nom. illeg.)
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- Boning, Charles R. (2006). Florida’s Best Fruiting Plants: Native and Exotic Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc. p. 135. ISBN 1561643726.
- Ragasa, CY Puno, MR Sengson, JMA Shen, CC Rideout, JA Raga, DD (November 2009). "Bioactive triterpenes from Diospyros blancoi". Natural Product Research 23 (13): 1252–1258. doi:10.1080/14786410902951054. PMID 19731144.