Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Aegle marmelos
(L.) Corrêa, Rutaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  Evaluate, score: 4 (Go to the risk assessment).

Other Latin names:  Belou marmelos (L.) A. Lyons; Crateva marmelos L.

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: mu ju, ying pi ju

English: bael, baeltree, belfruit-tree, Bengal-quince, elephant apple, golden-apple, Indian bael, Indian baelfruit

French: bel indien, cognassier du Bengal, coing de l'Inde, oranger de Malabar, oranger du Malabar

Hindi: bael, bel

Japanese: igure marumerozu

Spanish: bela, milva

Thai: mapin, matum

Vietnamese: bau nau, tráimam

Habit:  tree

Description:  "A slow-growing, medium sized tree, up to 12-15 m tall with short trunk, thick, soft, flaking bark, and spreading, sometimes spiny branches, the lower ones drooping. Young suckers bear many stiff, straight spines. A clear, gummy sap, resembling gum arabic, exudes from wounded branches and hangs down in long strands, becoming gradually solid. It is sweet at first taste and then irritating to the throat. The deciduous, alternate leaves, borne singly or in 2's or 3's, are composed of 3 to 5 oval, pointed, shallowly toothed leaflets, 4-10 cm long, 2-5 cm wide, the terminal one with a long petiole. New foliage is glossy and pinkish-maroon. Mature leaves emit a disagreeable odor when bruised. Fragrant flowers, in clusters of 4 to 7 along the young branchlets, have 4 recurved, fleshy petals, green outside, yellowish inside, and 50 or more greenish-yellow stamens.  The fruit, round, pyriform, oval, or oblong, 5-20 cm in diameter, may have a thin, hard, woody shell or a more or less soft rind, gray-green until the fruit is fully ripe, when it turns yellowish. It is dotted with aromatic, minute oil glands. Inside, there is a hard central core and 8 to 20 faintly defined triangular segments, with thin, dark-orange walls, filled with aromatic, pale-orange, pasty, sweet, resinous, more or less astringent, pulp. Embedded in the pulp are 10 to 15 seeds, flattened-oblong, about 1 cm long, bearing woolly hairs and each enclosed in a sac of adhesive, transparent mucilage that solidifies on drying"  (Agroforestreee Database).

"A round-topped, spiny, deciduous tree that may attain a height of 25 feet.  The leaves have 3 oval, 2-3 inch long, toothed leaflets on a slender petiole.  The fragrant, greenish white flowers are borne in axillary clusters.  The distinctive fruit is round to pear-shaped, about 4-6 inches in diameter, with a smooth, hard yellow (when ripe) shell containing 8-20 cells arranged in a circle, each cell filled with numerous seeds and otherwise filled with fragrant, mucilaginous, edible pulp"  (Staples & Herbst, 2005; p. 509)

"Tree, c. 6 m tall, with spines c. 15 mm long, single or paired. Leaves petiolate. sparsely white pubescent; leaflets 3-5, the lower 2 subsessibie, ovate-lanceolate, subcrenulate, obtuse. Flowers greenish-white, fragrant. Pedicels pubescent. Sepals c. 3 mm, pubescent, deciduous. Petals 13 mm, oblong, fleshy, spreading. Stamens c. 50, free or in fascicles, filaments subulate. Ovary 10-22-locular; stigma capitate. Fruit 5-10 cm in diameter, greenish-yellow or greenish, globose to pyriform; rind 3 mm thick; pulp pale orange, mucilaginous, aromatic. Seeds flat, oblong, densely woolly, embedded in transparent sticky gum"  (Flora of Pakistan online).

Description from the Flora of China online.

Habitat/ecology:  "The tree grows wild in dry forests on hills and plains of central and southern India and Burma, Pakistan and Bangladesh, also in mixed deciduous and dry dipterocarp forests. A. marmelos is a subtropical species. In the Punjab, it grows up to an altitude of 1,200 m where the temperature rises to 48.89° C in the shade in summer and descends to -6.67° C in the winter, and prolonged droughts occur. It will not fruit where there is no long, dry season, as in southern Malaysia"  (Agroforestreee Database).

In Fiji, "cultivated and sparingly naturalized along roadsides at elevations up to about 150 m"  (Smith, 1985; p. 525).

Propagation:  Seed

Native range:  "Presumably indigenous in India, now widely naturalized in adjacent parts of Asia and cultivated and often naturalized elsewhere"  (Smith, 1985; p. 525). India (including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Myanmar (GRIN).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Federated States of Micronesia
Pohnpei Islands
Pohnpei Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1979) (p. 122)
Federated States of Micronesia
Pohnpei Islands
Pohnpei Island introduced
cultivated
Herrera, Katherine/Lorence, David H./Flynn, Timothy/Balick, Michael J. (2010) (p. 132)
Voucher cited: D.H. Lorence 7919 (PTBG, US)
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Smith, Albert C. (1985) (p. 525)
Vouchers cited: DA 11402, DA 7059, DA 5626, DA 16482
Sparingly naturalized.
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island   National Tropical Botanical Garden (U.S.A. Hawaii. Kalaheo.) (2001) (voucher ID: PTBG 33513)
Taxon name on voucher: Aegle marmelos
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
cultivated
Staples, George W./Herbst, Derral R. (2005)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island   National Tropical Botanical Garden (U.S.A. Hawaii. Kalaheo.) (1977) (voucher ID: PTBG 19911)
Taxon name on voucher: Aegle marmelos
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
Australia (continental) introduced
invasive
Randall, R. P. (2007) (p. 23)
China
China
China (People's Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
Cultivated in forests on slightly dry hillsides; 600-1000 m. S and SW Yunnan.
Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Malaysia
Malaysia
Malaysia (country of) introduced
cultivated
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 10)
Thailand
Thailand
Thailand (Kingdom of) introduced
cultivated
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
India (Indian Ocean offshore islands)
Andaman Islands
Andaman Islands native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
India (Indian Ocean offshore islands)
Nicobar Islands
Nicobar Islands native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)


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This page was created on 14 DEC 2012 and was last updated on 21 DEC 2012.