Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It's sineguelas time!

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Close-up of ripe fruits, fruiting habit; author scrapes bark for home remedy.     
We kids in our time couldn't imagine summer without sineguelas.  It is a very inviting fruit tree growing in the wild or on some backyard. If you have a bamboo pole - which also serves as fishing pole - you will be able to fill your pockets with its fruits that stain skin and clothes when crushed. We would rather climb the tree and settle at the fork formed by its limbs like a hammock, and there we had our fill of fruits, stories and laughter.     

It is likely that those who did not grow up in the province may have seen sineguelas only in the market - but not all markets for that matter. Because it is not a popular fruit.  Beside it is seasonal. 

Summer is here and it is sineguelas time. Would you like to join the fun?  But first there are things we should know about this not-so-familiar fruit. Here are some interesting facts about sineguelas.    

Sineguelas (Spondias purpurea Linn), or ciruela, plum in Spanish, hence called Spanish ciruela, was introduced into the Philippines during the Spanish regime most likely from Mexico.  The tree is large and squat, with fleshy trunk and branches.  Its wood is soft and not ideal for lumber and construction.

It is dehiscent in summer giving way to numerous fruits arising from the branches singly or in cluster. The fruit is eaten raw on reaching maturity as indicated by the change in color from green to purple, hence purpurea. A decoction of the bark is an efficacious, astringent, antidysenteric and also in cases of infantile tympanites, often characterized by gas buildup.    
The mineral content and food value of fresh sineguelas in percent are: Phosphorus (P2O4) 0.11, Calcium (CaO) 0.01, Iron (Fe2O3) 0.003, Proteins 0.63, Fats 0.09, Crude Fiber 0.62. Surprisingly it is high in Carbohydrates - 21.16.

Sineguelas is a relative of Hevi (Spongias cytherea) and Libas (Spongias opinnata), Family Anacardiaceae, which also produce edible fruits but inferior to that of S. purpurea. Their fruits are eaten fresh, made into preserves, or  cooked in stew.

This summer is a chance for kids to see - if not climb on - a fruiting sineguelas tree. And have their fill as we did in our time. Just be careful, the branches are not as sturdy as how they look. 

If you wish to bring home the tree itself, just get a mature cutting from it, a meter long or so, then plant it in your backyard (like malunggay).  It begins bearing fruits in three to five years. The tree has a lifespan of more than fifty years if grown from seed, half that long if it came from cutting. ~

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