Dessert from your garden

Rambutan is a fleshy fruit, rich in Vitamin C and B

Rambutan is a close cousin of the litchi fruit, but not as well known. It is a member of the Sapindaceae family and resembles litchi, except for its long, flesh coloured spines. Rambutan is native to Malaysia and is commonly cultivated throughout the archipelago and India. Rambutan ( Nephelium lappaceum) is an evergreen tropical tree, which reaches a height of 50 to 80 feet and has a straight trunk, with a dense spreading crown. There are both male and female trees and only female trees bear fruit. It grows best in deep, clay-loam or sandy loam rich in organic matter with proper drainage.Rambutan is usually propagated by seeds. The seeds taken from the fruit, after thorough washing, may be planted horizontally with the flattened side downward so that the seedling grows straight and has a normal, strong root system. Seeds will germinate in nine to 25 days. Rambutan trees bear fruit in five-six years. Mulching and irrigation are done as needed in the dry season. Light pruning strengthens the tree. In India, flowering occurs from late March to early May and the fruits mature from June to October. The peeled fruits are occasionally stewed as dessert.Fresh rambutan contains a substantial amount of Vitamin C and B, minerals like calcium, iron and phosphorus and fibre. The colourful fruits are frequently used in displays with flower and fruit arrangements. Medicinally, the fruit is astringent and is taken to relieve diarrhoea and dysentery. JACOB VARGHESE

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