Wampee (scientific name Clausena lansium) belongs to the plant family Rutaceae, which has its origin in Southeast Asia. This species is a potently aromatic evergreen tree that grows up to a height of anything between 3 meters and 12 meters.
Clausena lansium is a relatively small tree and its trunk measures just 40 cm across. The leaves of this tree are deep green and arranged spirally and each leaf has seven to 15 leaflets. They are pinnate and measure 10 cm to 30 cm in length. The shape of the leaves varies from elliptic to ovate. The flowers of wampee are globose, measuring 14 mm in diameter. The flowers are found in various colors ranging from white to green to yellow. On the other hand, the fruit of this evergreen tree is also a globose, but its shape may vary. The fruit may be ellipsoid or like a broadly ovoid berry having a range of colors varying from light yellow to brownish yellow. The fruit usually measures 1.5 cm to 3 cm X 1 cm to 2 cm. The skin of these fruits is slender and smooth and inside the flesh is yellowish-while. They are mucilaginous and succulent. The flesh of wampee fruits is acidic, but have a sweet flavour. The flesh encloses anything between one to five vivid green seeds, which measure 10 mm to 15 mm in length.
Wampee or Clausena lansium is basically cultivated for its fruits, which bear resemblance to grapes and are a favourite fruit in China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. However, people in other South-eastern countries like India and Sri Lanka and Australia’s Queensland rarely cultivate this species. However, you can occasionally find people in Florida and Hawaii growing wampee.
The fruit of Clausena lansium possesses several medicinal properties and, hence, has many therapeutic applications in the countries where the trees are cultivated. Moreover, the fruit is also used for culinary purposes. Findings of a study stated that the fruit of wampee has been found to be effective in treating Parkinson’s disease since it contains flavonoid extracts. According to reports, the fruit of this tree is also useful for treating bronchitis as well as hepatitis.
Extracts obtained from the wampee fruit are known to be highly effective in getting rid of dandruff, especially when they are used to rinse the hair.
The fruit of the wampee tree also aids in treating cancer because the peel of this fruit possesses anti-carcinogenic properties that inhibit and prevent the cancerous cells from flourishing and spreading. It is also effective in treating bronchitis as well as various other ailments related to the respiratory tract, for instance coughs.
Aside from flavonoids, the fruit of wampee is also packed with vitamin C as well as various B-complex vitamins. This is the main reason why this fruit plays a vital role in the treatment of several health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, nervousness and others.
Vitamin C is helpful in properly dilating the blood vessels in people suffering from health conditions like high levels of blood cholesterol, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure (hypertension), congestive heart failure and angina pectoris. Findings of studies have shown that taking vitamin C supplements augments dilating blood vessels, thereby preventing the chances of developing cardiovascular conditions.
People suffering from high blood pressure are more prone to developing cardiovascular diseases and, hence, they should ensure that they intake sufficient amounts of vitamin C. It is essential as it aids in lowering high blood pressure.
Cataracts are a common visual problems or eye ailments. It has been found that people who have cataracts often also suffer from vitamin C deficiency, especially in the lens of their eyes. Intake of elevated levels of vitamin C augments blood supply to the body’s ocular areas.
Consuming elevated levels of vitamin B3 aids in lowering the levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and, at the same time, augments the levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol. Rise in the levels of good cholesterol is helpful in preventing the build-up of plaque on the artery walls. It is also useful in preventing and treating health conditions like atherosclerosis.
Vitamin B3 passes through the human blood stream and helps our body to get rid of surplus vitamins through urine. Nevertheless, our body needs a continuous supply of vitamin B3, which the body can obtain from various liquids and other foods we intake.
Wampee is rich in vitamin B3; vitamin B3 is also useful in the treatment of a number of other health conditions including diabetes as well has high blood sugar levels. For instance, vitamin B3 also helps in effectively regulating the levels of HBA 1C. Similarly, vitamin B2 plays a vital role in energy formations, since this nutrient helps in promoting carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism in our body.
In addition, vitamin B2 (wampee is rich source of it) is also effective in treating various ailments related to the nervous system, including anxiety, numbness, epilepsy, sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. A combination of vitamin B6 and B2 is effective in treating the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
It is worth mentioning here that vitamin B2 is necessary for the appropriate development as well as growth of the reproductive organs of the body, in addition to the body tissues like the skin, connective tissues, mucus membranes, nervous system, immune system and even our eyes. Aside from these health benefits of vitamin B2, this nutrient also works to support the health of our skin, hair and nails.
Vitamin B2 is also essential and has a vital part in the contraction of our muscles. Our body also requires sufficient amounts of potassium to ensure that the muscles relax and contract regularly. Wampee fruit contains substantial amounts of potassium, whose ions are present in the human body’s muscle cells. These potassium ions help to maintain the normal functioning of the nerves as well as the muscles. In addition, they also help to make the reflexes faster, as they support the brain’s neural connectivity and the muscles.
The fruits of wampee tree (Clausena lansium) have a number of culinary uses. They are eaten fresh or added to fruit cups, gelatins and desserts. In addition, this fruit is also used to prepare jams, jellies and pies. People in China consume the wampee fruit fresh or serve it along with meat preparations or preserves. On the other hand, people in Vietnam as well as in other regions of Southeast Asia where this species is cultivated, ferment the fruit with sugar and subsequently strain the resultant product to make champagne or carbonated beverages. The dried out wampee fruit is extremely popular in Thailand.
The juice of wampee fruit is also used in marinades and salad dressings. Moreover, the juice of this fruit is also added to various recipes and sorbets. People also warm, steam, barbeque, bake and simmer the wampee fruit. People in China make preserves with this fruit. You can also ferment the juice with sugar and process it to make a wine. The Chinese hold this fruit in high esteem and use it to make various delectable preserves.
As discussed earlier, people in China serve the wampee fruit along with meat dishes. After peeling the fully ripened wampee it tastes sweet and somewhat acidic and it can be eaten fresh after discarding the seeds. You can mix the seeded pulp of wampee with fruit caps, desserts or gelatins. The other culinary uses of this fruit include using it to make jam or pie. However, you can only make jelly using the under-ripe, acid type fruits. Ripened wampee fruits are not fit for making jelly.
Habitat and cultivation
Wampee requires tropical or sub-tropical climatic conditions to flourish. This species is unable to bear frost and the trees die when there is frosting. These trees grow best in fertile loam and you can also plant them in other types of soils too provided the drainage system is good. Precisely speaking, wampee also requires the same conditions that are needed by most other citrus fruit trees.
It is very easy to propagate Clausena lansium. Usually, this plant is propagated from its seeds or from the cuttings. In addition, wampee seedlings can also be grown successfully on grafts or air layers. The seeds take just a few days to sprout. Moreover, propagation of wampee through the mist propagation method using the tree’s softwood is also another successful means of propagating this species. Nevertheless, wampee trees cannot be propagated by means of grafting on citrus rootstocks.
It is essential to prevent the branches of wampee from being congested. Therefore, it is recommended that people cultivating this species should undertake regular pruning of the trees. It has been found that the Clausena lansium trees have a tendency to develop roots of chlorosis, especially when grown on limestone soils. Hence, it is advisable that cultivators should undertake necessary measures to rectify this. They can correct this by applying magnesium, zinc, mulch and manure to the trees.
Side effects and cautions
Despite the health benefits of the fruits of wampee, one should be careful while consuming it. Some people may develop allergic reactions after consuming wampee fruits. It is advisable that people susceptible to allergic reactions to wampee fruits ought to avoid eating them. In addition, you should always be careful and consume this fruit in moderate amounts.