Ambarella

Spondias dulcis syn. Spondias cytherea

Herbs gallery - Ambarella

Common names

  • Ambarella
  • Buah Long Long
  • Cajarana
  • Golden Apple
  • Juplon
  • Kedondong

The edible fruit ambarella is produced by a tree that originates in tropical and equatorial regions. It has a lot of medicinal and culinary uses.

The ambarella tree is very productive, with a fast growth to heights of 20 meters. Its origin lies in Southeast Asia, most likely in the islands of Polynesia and Melanesia. The ambarella fruits are abundant and grow in groups of up to 12 and start to ripen between the beginning of autumn until late January. Besides the fruit, the leaves are also used, which makes this tree a very common and useful crop in India, Sri Lanka, some African countries and Malaysia.

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The ambarella fruit is about the size of an egg and has an oval shape. Both the skin and the flesh are very tough and the core is large and fibrous. When it ripens, it tastes like a cross between a mango and a pineapple and has a yellow color, sometimes even a golden one. Ambarella fruit can be eaten raw but it's usually paired with condiments like sugar, fish sauce, paprika or even simple salt in order to balance the sour taste of its flesh. The easiest way to cut it is like a mango, avoiding the sizeable fibrous pit.

In its native area, the ambarella fruit is used in many local recipes in order to flavour soups, stews and other dishes. It can be processed into a sauce or a paste in order to be used as a cooking ingredient. Other uses are salads, preserves, jams, candies, dried fruits or even drinks.

Parts used

Bark, leaves, seeds, fruit.

Uses

Studies have proven that the seeds of the fruit of ambarella are an excellent treatment for a variety of diseases. Because of their high content of antibiotics, they help to treat respiratory problems.

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The ambarella fruit also contains calcium, and eating it regularly can help cure heart diseases. Calcium is important in the function of the cardiovascular system, so the fruit is recommended for people with heart problems.

In addition, ambarella can be used to treat headaches and constipation. It even has a positive effect on diabetes patients. A decoct made from the ambarella bark helps people with bowel issues or those who suffer from diseases like dysentery or diarrhea.

Diarrhea and dysentery can be cured using the bark of the tree. To prepare a remedy, you need about 5 grams of clean bark and two cups of water. The bark has to be boiled until about half of the initial water evaporates. The remaining concoction has an instant effect, especially on people suffering from dysentery. Just remember to filter it before consuming it, honey can be added to the mix as well.

The raw ambarella fruit can be applied on mouth sores or skin rashes in order to alleviate pain and itching.

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Several parts of the herb are useful in the treatment of cough. You can get rid of cough by drinking three times per day a juice made from shredded ambarella fruit, with a bit of salt added to balance the sour taste. Cough can also be treated with an extract made from the leaves of the tree. To make such a concoction, you need 3 or 4 fresh leaves and two cups of water. After boiling the leaves, let the extract settle a bit, then filter it. Add some honey to give it a pleasant taste and make it easy to ingest.

The ambarella fruit has important cosmetic benefits because it contains vitamin C. Vitamin C has a direct effect on the production of collagen in the skin, which increases its beauty and ability to regenerate. The high concentration of vitamin C of the ambarella fruit has nourishing qualities when applied to skin or consumed and it also boosts tissue and skin repair. A very effective natural moisturizer that acts like a body lotion can be prepared by boiling the leaves. In the native range of the herb, itchy skin is alleviated with an extract made from the roots.

Eating the ambarella fruit provides diverse health benefits due to its nutritional content. It has a high proportion of dietary fibers, while being low in carbohydrates and fats. The fibers contribute to a clear bowel and thus help in diseases like indigestion or constipation.

Ambarella is one of the best fruits for losing weight because of the very low number of calories it contains. It is however rich in other essential nutrients and its high content of water keeps the body well hydrated. Due to the water content, eating ambarella fruits causes a feeling of fullness.

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This herb provides numerous other health benefits. Due to the high content of calcium and phosphorous in the fruit, it is recommended for the health of teeth and bones. Women in particular should eat ambarella because it prevents anemia due to the iron content that acts like a regulator of the formation of blood cells. It also balances the level of sugar in the blood, thus being very useful for diabetes patients.

The medical uses of the herb have been known for a long time and it is widely used as such in parts of Asia and Africa. The antibiotic content of the seeds makes them very useful in the treatment of respiratory problems and other infections. It is particularly effective in fighting hemorrhoids and inflammations of the urinary tract. The leaves and the bark have an antifungal effect and can be used to get rid of fungal infections of the mouth (thrush). Ancient cultures have prepared a contraceptive extract from the roots. Mouth sores can be treated with a powder prepared from the dried and ground leaves of the herb. Also, the ambarella fruit can be used to treat other health problems: burns, skin injuries, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases.

Culinary uses

The ambarella fruit can be eaten and prepared in a variety of ways, depending on the local traditions. Most commonly, it is used to flavour soups, stews and other dishes or in preserves and sauces.

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Samoans and Tongans use the fruit to make a traditional refreshing drink named otai. In Sri Lanka it is an ingredient in acharu, after soaking it in vinegar with spices and chili to produce a snack food with a very strong flavour. Fijians prepare a jam from the ambarella fruit.

The ambarella tree is new in Jamaica and other islands in the area, being considered a novelty. Children eat the fruit raw with salt but it's also used to prepare a drink mixed with ginger and sugar.

Habitat and cultivation

Ambarella is easy to propagate and it can be done in several ways. Seeds are an easy option and usually germinate after one month. Good quality trees can also be multiplied by cloning, which can be achieved by grafting, air layering or cuttings.

The ambarella tree needs a lot of light and warm weather and can thus be cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas. It is not as hard as the mango and it's not advised to plant them in shaded areas because they don't produce a lot of fruits or even none at all. The soil needs good drainage but otherwise ambarella tolerates a variety of soils, such as limestone ones or even acid sands. It has a high resistance against drought but might lose its leaves under harsh conditions. Since the branches are fragile and can break, the ambarella tree should be planted in protected locations sheltered from wind and storms.

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