Winter Fruit/Zizyphus Jujuba

One fruit we can look forward to in the cooler months is the ber (in Hindi), or bogori (in Assamese). The botanical name of this fruit is Zizyphus jujuba and the trees grow all across the region. It’s common to see this spiny, many-branched evergreen tree on the edge of roads and rice-fields. Of Indian origin, this tree has naturalized in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. The round or oval fruit (depending on the cultivar) is green but turns to a bright shade of orange or brown when it ripens. The ripe fruit is sweet and slightly acidic. It’s also made into pickles and chutney. The oval ones are generally sweeter.

This photo was taken in my mother’s kitchen in January this year.

The tree spreads like a huge canopy and grows to a height of 25 metres. The flowers are creamy and grow in clusters. The fragrant blooms attract a lot of pollinators. It’s a tree that can withstand harsh climatic conditions like drought and water-logging. Can you spot the crow in the middle?

The leaves are dark green and has spines at the base. In traditional medicine, tender leaves and twigs are used to cure sores and boils. Mixed with salt, the leaves are used as a gargle for sore throats and mouth ulcers. The leaves are also a component in the Ayurvedic treatment of piles.

In the villages, the timber is used for making agricultural implements. As for the bark, a decoction is used as a purgative.

A magpie-robin finds a cozy nook on this tree in my sister’s garden. Notice how well-camouflaged it is! In other parts of the country, particularly in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra, lac worms/Laccifer lacca are reared on this tree. These worms secrete a bright orange resinous substance which is used for making bangles, gramophone records, and varnish. The other trees that the lac worms are reared on are: the Gum lac tree/Schleichera oleosa, and Palas/Butea monosperma.

About Kanak Hagjer

Hello from north-east India! I love to blog about all things floral and foliar and sharing the beauty of my region is what I am most passionate about!
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9 Responses to Winter Fruit/Zizyphus Jujuba

  1. One says:

    Do you have to climb up that tree for the fruits?

  2. I did not know about this fruit or any of these facts. How interesting! I think I can see the ccrow, just to the right of the middle? And the magpie IS so camoflauged that it took me some time to make out which way he was facing !

  3. wendy says:

    It always amazes me to think “who was the first person to think of using worm resin to make bangles, varnish, etc.? Must be someone very creative. Same with lots of funny substances. I recently heard that some cosmetics are made of whale vomit -not sure how true that is, but you get the picture.

    Your berries remind me of cranberries here in my part of the world. They don’t actually grow in Canada, but south of us in Maine, U.S.A. They’re very tart, but good. I like to bake with them.

    • kanak7 says:

      Wendy….must be! Whale vomit!! Sometimes it’s better not to know?;) Most of the fruits in our region are tart. They are sweet when they’re ripe to the point of almost rotting. So they’re best pickled. And I make them extra sweet. Very good with the different kinds of Indian bread, namely, roti, paratha, and puri.

  4. Thanks for an interesting post! I’ve never seen the trees at maturity.

  5. Jo says:

    Hi Kanak,

    Thank You for posting this. I had a hard time finding out what “bogori” is called in English. Now I know its Jujube.
    I have one confusion though, what about the sweeter variety? I’m sure “bilati bogori” has a different scientific name.

    • kanak7 says:

      Hi Jo, welcome to my blog! The “bilati bogori” is most likely to be the Zizyphus mauritiana. I didn’t realize there were that many cultivars till I did the post on the fruit!

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