The Golf Ball Sized “Chikoo”is a Delicious Ultra Sweet Fruit when Ripe .
Am familiar with the fruit from my childhood as it is widely available across the Country .
The “Chikoo” Tree in my House is however no more than a gnarled shrub and has never borne even a Bud let alone the tasty Fruit.
Little did I know this fruit was unknown to Asia and in particular the Indian Sub Continent till as late as the 15th century, as it was introduced from The Americas to Europe ( read Spanish) and then to India.
A handsome evergreen Tree bearing numerous “Chikoo” fruits spotted at the Uday Suites in Trivandrum, Kerala.
Sapodilla ( English), Chikoo ( Hindi) , Manilkara zapota( Scientific name) is what the dull Brown Golf ball sized fruits are known as .
The Brown Skin of the Fruit needs to be peeled to reveal the insides which are Fleshy & Sweet. Multiple Glossy Black seeds are embedded in the Fleshy part of the Fruit.
But Beware if had Raw, your mouth will get all puckered up.
Originally from Central America the Plant bears small White Flowers , one of which you can see in the picture below.
Surprisingly the same tree which bore White flowers and the “Chikoo fruit” was also bearing Red buds. Can someone explain this mysterious behaviour??
The “Chikoo” Fruit is a Rich source of antioxidants and also helpful in curing ailments like Rheumatoid Arthiritis.
It is no surprise “Ayurveda” makes no mention of the fruit or any of its Health benefits as the fruit was unknown to the Ancient Indians in 1500 BCE.
Am Enchanted to see Fruit Trees as they reveal so much which remains secret till you attempt to peel the layers and LOOK.
Once Upon a Time ,Wild Deer , Elephants and Tigers would have roamed these Hills now overtaken by domesticated Cattle and numerous “Crying Trees “.
The Para Rubber Tree ( English), Hevea brasinlliensis( Scientific name) was first planted in India by the British from the Americas ( Brazil in South America) in the early 20th Century .They felled the Naturally Occurring Rainforests and replaced them with Rubber Plantations to harvest Natural Latex. ( this act was replicated across South East Asia as well )
A Rubber Plantation on the slopes of the Western Ghats in District Pathnamthitta, Kerala, India as it exists today after over 100 years.
This Plantation is close to the Konni Elephant Rescue Centre mentioned in previous blogs titled BABY ELEPHANTS and MAMMOTH BATH.
The Rubber Trees in Plantations across Kerala are native to the Amazonian Rain forests and a rich Natural Source of Rubber.
The trees are wounded by repeated Cuts to release a Milky latex which is collected in Coconut Shells.
Is it a wonder they are called “Caotchoue” by the Native Americans which literally translates to Crying Tree.
As you can see in the picture above there are several angled cuts on the Trunks of the trees.
Vast Lands which once supported an astonishing range of Flora of Fauna were laid waste and replaced by Rubber Plantations to commercially harvest Natural Rubber which oozes from the Core of these Crying Trees.
The Milky Latex is collected in little Cups made from Coconut Shells.
First the Rainforests were felled and replaced by Plantations, then the forest dwellers like the Elephants chained and finally the Trees were made to Bleed.
I understand that the closest competitor to Natural Rubber is Synthetic Rubber which is derived from Petroleum. Thus when the prices of Crude Oil fall so do the prices of Rubber.
As we all know Crude Oil prices are scraping the bottom of the Barrel and that spells a death Knell for the Rubber Plantations as well.
The Backwaters of Kerala provide the perfect Home to these Gorgeous Rust and White Birds Of Prey.
Coastal Plains, Estuaries, Marshes, Swamps , Lakes and Rivers describe the Landscape of Poovar and Ashtamudhi ,Kerala, India .( do see the pictures in earlier posts titled THE OCTOPUS LAKE and TRANQUIL WATERS)
These wetlands are the Native Habitat of The Brahminy Kite or Red Backed Eagle ( English), Haliastur indus ( Scientific name) which you will see Soaring above in the Skies along the entire Coast of Kerala.
The distinctive White Head and Rust Back make them extremely easy to identify. The photographs were taken from a Boat and the one below is of a Brahminy Kite perched high above on a Coconut Tree. ( you can see the Coconuts on the right)
I am not sure what has Ruffled the Feathers of the Kite but it seems to have it,s eyes fixed on something.
It is a soft photograph and a bit out of focus but am sharing it nevertheless as I find the silhouette and colouration of the Beak rather extraordinary.
From my experience Poovar is an excellent area for Bird Watching as the Foliage is extremely Dense and forms a Canopy over a maze of narrow and calm water Channels.
Thus when you are on a boat you could Spot a Bird perched on a Branch which arches above the waters.
It was the first time I saw a Juvenile Brahminy Kite so close at hand permitting the following picture to be taken.
You can clearly see the Head and Chest of the Teenager Brahminy Kite are still not Snow White as in the Adult.
The Adorable Babies you see in the Pictures in the Blog are of two orphans who were rescued by the Forest Department from the Konni Forest of Kerala.
The Large Wooden Cage you see in the background called Aanakoodu in Malayalam ( the local language in Kerala) is the current home of these Babies located in the Elephant Rescue Centre in Konni,Pathanamthitta District, Kerala.
A Large Open Enclosure outside the Aanakoodu is the Play Ground for these Baby Elephants who seem to enjoy the freedom from their respective cages.
A She Elephant was also rescued from a nearby forest , but her heavy metal chains and her reaching out to me (for Help ? ) make me wonder if they are Really Happy being Rescued.
Observe Her Eyes in the picture below, they seem to Speak Volumes. What do you read??
Have posted a blog titled MAMMOTH BATH from this very Rescue Centre a few days ago with pictures of a Tusker having a Bath, who was also in Chains.
I wonder what Ominous Futures hangs over the Baby Elephants who will be used by the Forest Department to promote what is labelled ECOTOURISM.
Tourist will Ride on these Elephants after being trained by a process which is both Cruel and Torturous.