Aegle marmelos is also called Bengal quince. It is native to India where it is also cultivated. In the Hinduism the Bengal quince is sacred. Due to that it is part of many religious traditions. Aegle marmelos grows as a tree that gets between 6 and 10 m high. The bark is bluish gray and the branches bear thorns.
The leaves of Aegle marmelos are pinnate. The leaflets are longish ovate, they get 12 cm long and 6 cm wide. Depending on the exposition to the sun the leaves can have various colors. The leaves in the sun are more reddish than the ones in the shadow. The leaves can be used against asthma in medicine. The flowers of the Bengal quince are actinomorphic and get 1,5 cm long. They are inconspicuous greenish or white. The wonderful odor of the flowers can be conserved in form of oil that can be gained from the flowers. The fruit resembles slightly a pear. It is slightly ovate and is mostly green with brown speckles. The fruit reaches 10 cm in diameter. It is edible. To get the fruit pulp the extremely hard- shelled fruit has to be opened with a hammer or something like that. The hard shell is the reason why the plant is sometimes called wooden apple. The fruit tastes sour. Because of that often sugar is put onto the fruit pulp before eating it. Jam is also made from the fruits. Beside the culinary use the Bengal quince is also part of the Ayurveda since 5000 years. The unripe fruits are used against diarrhea and the ripe once against obstipation.
For cultivation from seeds, the seeds have to be placed into warm water for about 2 days. In the moist substrate the first seedlings emerge after round about a month. The surrounding temperature should be around 28°C. The adult Bengal quince tolerates temperatures from minus 10 °C to plus 50 °C. That is an unusual high temperature range for a plant.
- Additional Information