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| Last Updated:: 29/04/2019

Sacred plant- Indian olives: The most under-utilized fruit crop






A study published in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry in 2017 says Indian olives are the most under-utilised fruit crop. It is mainly used in at the household level only. Jalpai has several medicinal properties—its fruits contain 0.69 per cent protein; 19.5 per cent carbohydrates; 0.59 per cent mineral matter; and, the vitamin C content of dry leaves is 257mg/100 gm. The fruits are used to treat dysentery and diarrhoea, says another study. It is also used to treat swollen gums.



Jalpai is a medium-to-tall evergreen tree with a maximum height of 20 metres, says a study published in the International Journal of Agriculture, Environment and Biotechnology in 2017. The authors state that the plant is “mainly grown as homestead crops in shady or semi-shady condition with little or restricted management practices. No report is available regarding existence of any commercial orchard under jalpai plantation. Flowers are white in colour and appear on the leaf axils. Flowers bloom during April-May and fruits mature for harvest in October-November.”



The fruits are greenish in colour and elongated, and resemble the common ber. The fruits have a large seed inside. The flesh is what is eaten. The fruit when bitten raw has an acerbic taste which makes the mouth and lips tingle. People in Manipur eat it raw adding chillies, salt and sugar.



A tree bears around 40-60 kg of fruit in a season. It is also considered as a sacred plant. Unlike olives around the world, which symbolise peace and have other connotations, not much is known about Indian olives. In truth, it is an under-researched crop. It is not cultivated as an orchard crop, but more as a backyard crop.



In Arunachal Pradesh, the wild edible plant is foraged and collected from trees. It is eaten raw and is also made into delectable pickles. A study, Status and potential of wild edible plants of Arunachal Pradesh, says, “The contribution of the wild edibles to the diet and economy of the local people is often significant and therefore focus on these species should remain a priority. Integration of wild species into agricultural system will not only protect biological diversity but also provide adequate food and contribute to the rural economy. For this purpose, identification of the edible species according to the local preferences is necessary.” Jalpai may not be like Italian olives, but it has a charm and taste of its own.