Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ber (Ziziphus Mauritania)




Scientific classification
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Kingdom : Plantae
Division   : Magnoliophyta
Class       : Magnoliopsida
Order      : Rosales
Family     : Rhamnaceae
Genus     : Ziziphus
Species   : Z. mauritiana
Binomial name
              :  Ziziphus mauritiana Lam.
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Ziziphus mauritiana, also known as Ber, Chinee Apple, Jujube, Indian plum and Masau is a tropical fruit tree species belonging to the family Rhamnaceae.

Z. mauritiana is a spiny, evergreen shrub or small tree up to 15 m high, with trunk 40 cm or more in diameter; spreading crown; stipular spines and many drooping branches. The fruit is of variable shape and size. It can be oval, obovate, oblong or round, and that can be 1-2.5 in (2.5-6.25 cm) long, depending on the variety. The flesh is white and crisp. When slightly underipe, this fruit is a bit juicy and has a pleasant aroma. The fruit's skin is smooth, glossy, thin but tight.

The species is believed to have originated in Indo-Malaysian region of South-East Asia. It is now widely naturalised throughout the Old World tropics from Southern Africa through the Middle East to the Indian Subcontinent and China, Indomalaya, and into Australasia and the Pacific Islands. It can form dense stands and become invasive in some areas, including Fiji and Australia and has become a serious environmental weed in Northern Australia. It is a fast growing tree with a medium lifespan, that can quickly reach up to 10–40 ft (3 to 12 m) tall.

Description

The plant is a vigorous grower and has a rapidly-developing taproot. It may be a bushy shrub 4 to 6 ft (1.2-1.8 m) high, or a tree 10 to 30 or even 40 ft (3-9 or 12 m) tall; erect or wide-spreading, with gracefully drooping branches and downy, zigzag branchlets, thornless or set with short, sharp straight or hooked spines. It may be evergreen, or leafless for several weeks in hot summers. The leaves are alternate, ovate- or oblong-elliptic, 1 to 2 1/2 in (2.5-6.25 cm) long, 3/4 to 1 1/2 in (2-4 cm) wide; distinguished from those of the Chinese jujube by the dense, silky, whitish or brownish hairs on the underside and the short, downy petioles. On the upper surface, they are very glossy, dark-green, with 3 conspicuous, depressed, longitudinal veins, and there are very fine teeth on the margins.

The 5-petalled flowers are yellow, tiny, in 2's or 3's in the leaf axils. The fruit of wild trees is 1/2 to 1 in (1.25-2.5 cm) long. With sophisticated cultivation, the fruit reaches 2 1/2 in (6.25 cm) in length and 1 3/4 in (4.5 cm) in width. The form may be oval, obovate, round or oblong; the skin smooth or rough, glossy, thin but tough, turns from light-green to yellow, later becomes partially or wholly burnt-orange or red-brown or all-red. When slightly underripe, the flesh is white, crisp, juicy, acid or subacid to sweet, somewhat astringent, much like that of a crabapple. Fully ripe fruits are less crisp and somewhat mealy; overripe fruits are wrinkled, the flesh buff-colored, soft, spongy and musky. At first the aroma is applelike and pleasant but it becomes peculiarly musky as the fruit ages. There is a single, hard, oval or oblate, rough central stone which contains 2 elliptic, brown seeds, 1/4 in (6 mm) long.

Origin and Distribution



The Indian jujube is native from the Province of Yunnan in southern China to Afghanistan, Malaysia and Queensland, Australia. It is cultivated to some extent throughout its natural range but mostly in India where it is grown commercially and has received much horticultural attention and refinement despite the fact that it frequently escapes and becomes a pest. It was introduced into Guam about 1850 but is not often planted there or in Hawaii except as an ornamental. Specimens are scattered about the drier parts of the West Indies, the Bahamas, Colombia and Venezuela, Guatemala, Belize, and southern Florida. In Barbados, Jamaica and Puerto Rico the tree is naturalized and forms thickets in uncultivated areas. In 1939, 6 trees from Malaysia were introduced into Israel and flourished there. They bore very light crops of fruit heavily infested with fruit flies and were therefore destroyed to protect other fruit trees.


Botany

Z. mauritiana is a medium sized tree that grows vigorously and has a rapidly developing taproot, a necessary adaptation to drought conditions. The species varies widely in height, from a bushy shrub 1.5 to 2 m tall, to a tree 10 to 12 m tall with a trunk diameter of about 30 cm. Z. mauritiana may be erect or wide-spreading, with gracefully drooping thorny branches, zigzag branchlets, thornless or set with short, sharp straight or hooked spines.

The leaves are alternate, ovate or oblong elliptic with rounded apex, with 3 depressed longitudinal veins at the base. The leaves are about 2.5 to 3.2 cm long and 1.8 to 3.8 cm wide having fine tooth at margin. It is dark-green and glossy on the upper side and pubescent and pale-green to grey-green on the lower side. Depending on the climate, the foliage of the Z. mauritiana may be evergreen or deciduous.

The flowers are tiny, yellow, 5-petalled and are usually in twos and threes in the leaf axils. Flowers are white or greenish white and the fruits are orange to brown, 2–3 cm long, with edible white pulp surrounding a 2-locular pyrene.

This quick growing tree starts producing fruits within three years. The fruit is a soft, juicy, drupe that is 2.5 cm diameter though with sophisticated cultivation the fruit has of size 6.25 cm long and 4.5 cm wide. The form may be oval, obovate, round or oblong; the skin smooth or rough, glossy, thin but tough. The fruit ripen at different times even on a single tree. Fruits are first green, turning yellow as they ripen. The fully mature fruit is entirely red, soft, juicy with wrinkled skin and has pleasant aroma. The ripe fruit is sweet and sour in taste. Both flesh texture and taste are reminiscent of apples. When under ripe the flesh is white and crispy, acid to subacid to sweet in taste. Fully ripe fruits are less crisp and somewhat mealy; overripe fruits are wrinkled, the flesh buff-coloured, soft, spongy and musky. At first the aroma is apple like and pleasant but it becomes peculiarly musky when overripe. There is a single, hard, oval or oblate, rough central stone which contains 2 elliptic, brown seeds, 1/4 in (6mm) long.

Ecology


Z. mauritiana is hardy tree that copes with extreme temperatures and thrives under rather dry conditions with an annual rainfall of 6 to 88.5 in (15–225 cm). In Fiji, sometimes naturalised Ber trees grow along roadsides and in agricultural land, usually near sea level but occasionally up to an elevation of about 600 m. It also grows well on laterite, medium black soils with good drainage, or sandy, gravelly, alluvial soil of dry river-beds where it is vigorously spontaneous. In Australia, this species grows on a wide variety of soil types, including cracking clays, solodic soils and deep alluvials, in the tropics and sub-tropics where the average annual rainfall is in the range 470-1200mm. In the drier parts of this range, it grows best in riparian zones. Commercial cultivation usually extends up to 1000 m. Beyond this elevation trees do not perform well, and cultivation becomes less economical.

The tree has a high tolerance to both water-logging and drought and can grow where annual rainfall ranges from 125 to 2,225 mm, but is more widespread in areas with an annual rainfall of 300 to 500 mm. In China and India, wild trees are found up to an elevation of 5,400 ft (1,650 m). In India, the minimum shade temperature for survival is 7–13° and the maximum temperature is 50 °C. Studies report that this species flourishes in alkaline soils with a pH as high as 9.2. However, deep sandy loam to loamy soils with neutral or slightly alkaline pH are considered optimum for growth. In India, the tree grows best on sandy loam, neutral or slightly alkaline.

In India, there are 90 or more cultivars depending on the habit of the tree, leaf shape, fruit form, size, color, flavor, keeping quality, and fruiting season. Among the important cultivars, eleven are described in the encyclopaedic Wealth of India: 'Banarasi (or Banarsi) Pewandi', 'Dandan', 'Kaithli' ('Patham'), 'Muria Mahrara', 'Narikelee', 'Nazuk', 'Sanauri 1', 'Sanauri 5', 'Thornless' and 'Umran' ('Umri'). The skin of most is smooth and greenish-yellow to yellow.

Reproductive biology

Some cultivars attain anthesis early in the morning, others do so later in the day. The flowers are protandrous. Hence, fruit set depends on cross-pollination by insects attracted by the fragrance and nectar. Pollen of the Indian jujube is thick and heavy. It is not airborne but is transferred from flower to flower by honeybees. The flowers are pollinated by ants and other insects, and in the wild state the trees do not set fruits by self-pollination. Ber propagates by seeds, seedlings, direct sowing, root suckers as well as by cuttings. Ber seeds are spread by birds, native animals, stock, feral pigs and humans who eat the fruit and expel the seeds. Seeds may remain viable for 2½ years but the rate of germination declines with age. Cross-incompatibility occurs, and cultivars have to be matched for good fruit set; some cultivars produce good crops parthenocarpically.

Propagation

Z. mauritiana is one of the two Ziziphus species that have considerable horticulture importance, the other being Chinese jujube (Z. zizyphus). Indian jujube is more tropical whereas Chinese jujube is a more cold hardy species.

Propagation is most commonly from seed, where pretreatment is beneficial. Storage of the seed for 4 months to let it after-ripen improves germination. The hard stone restricts germination and cracking the shell or extraction of seeds hastens germination. Without pretreatment the seeds normally germinate within six weeks whereas extracted seeds only need one week to germinate

Seedlings to be used as rootstock can be raised from seed. Several studies indicate that germination can be improved by soaking seeds in sulfuric acid. Germination time can also be shortened to 7 days by carefully cracking the endocarp. Ber seedlings do not tolerate transplanting, therefore the best alternatives are to sow the seeds directly in the field or to use polythene tubes placed in the nursery bed. Seedlings are ready for budding in 3 to 4 months. In addition, seedlings from the wild cultivars can be converted into improved cultivars by top-working and grafting. Nurseries are used for large scale seedling multiplication and graft production. The seedlings should also be given full light. The seedlings may need as long as 15 months in the nursery before planting in the field.

Scientists in India have standardised propagation techniques for Ber establishment. Budding is the easiest method of vegetative propagation used for improved cultivars. Different types of budding techniques have been utilised with ring-budding and shield-budding being the most successful. Wild varieties of ber are usually used as the root-stock. The most common being Z. rotundifolia in India and Z. spina-christi in Africa.

Varieties

In India, there are 90 or more cultivars differing in the habit of the tree, leaf shape, fruit form, size, color, flavor, keeping quality, and fruiting season. Among the important cultivars, eleven are described in the encyclopaedic Wealth of India: 'Banarasi (or Banarsi) Pewandi', 'Dandan', 'Kaithli' ('Patham'), 'Muria Mahrara', 'Narikelee', 'Nazuk', 'Sanauri 1', 'Sanauri 5', 'Thornless' and 'Umran' ('Umri'). The skin of most is smooth and greenish-yellow to yellow.

At Haryana Agricultural University, a study was made of 70 cultivars collected from all jujube-growing areas of northern India and set out in an experimental orchard in 1967-68. In 1980, 16 midseason selections from these were evaluated. 'Banarasi Karaka' (poor-flavored) gave the highest yield-286 lbs (130 kg) per tree-followed by 'Mudia Murhara' and 'Kaithli' (both of good flavor), and 'Sanauri 5' and 'Desi Alwar' (both of medium flavor). It was decided that 'Mudia Murhara', 'Kaithli' and 'Sanauri 5' were worthy of commercial cultivation. For breeding purposes, 'Banarasi Karaka' and 'Desi Alwar' could contribute high pulp content; 'Mudia Murhara', total soluble solids; 'Kaithli', high ascorbic acid content and good flavor, in efforts to develop a superior midseason cultivar.

In 1982, 4 were singled-out as the most promising cultivars:

'Umran'–large, golden-yellow turning chocolate-brown when fully ripe; sweet; 19% TSS; 0.12% acidity; average fruit weight, 30-89 g; yield, 380-440 lbs (150-200 kg) per tree; late-ripening; of good keeping and shipping quality.

'Gola'–medium to large (average, 14-17 g); 17-19% TSS; 0.46-0.51% acidity; golden-yellow, juicy, of good flavor; yield, 175-220 lbs (80-100 kg) per tree. Earliest to ripen; sells at a high price.

'Kaithli'–of medium size (average 180.0 g); 18% TSS; 0.5% acidity; pulp soft and sweet. Average yield, 220-330 lbs (100-150 kg).

'Katha phal'–small to medium (average 10.0 g); greenish blushed on one cheek with reddish-yellow; 23% TSS; 0.77% acidity; yield, medium, 175-220 lbs (80- 100 kg) per tree. Late in season.

In addition to these, 5 cultivars have been described at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. All are grown in Delhi, the southeastern Punjab and neighboring Uttar Pradesh. Their special features are, briefly, as follows:

'Dandan'–non-spiny; fruit medium to large; of fairly good quality; keeps well. Late in season.

'Gular Bashi

'–fruit of medium size, juicy, sweet, nonacrid; of excellent quality when fresh, musky after storage. TSS 18.8% when yellow, 22.4% after turning brown. Stone medium to thin, funnel-shaped, easily separated from the flesh. Late in season. Keeps well.

'Kheera'–medium to large, oval with a beak; pulp soft, juicy, of good, sweet flavor. TSS 19.8%. Late; a heavy bearer; of fairly good keeping quality.

'Nazuk'–medium to small, elliptic-oblong; pulp slimy, fairly juicy; of good, sweet flavor, nearly without astringency. TSS 17.4%. Midseason. A moderate bearer. Of poor keeping quality.

'Seo ber' ('Seb')–medium to large; skin thick; pulp moderately juicy, astringent unless peeled or not eaten until light-brown, when it is very sweet and excellent. TSS 19%. Stone large, thick, pitted. Late in season. Keeps very well.

In Assam 5 wild or cultivated types, collected from various parts of the state, have been described by S. Dutta:

'Var. 1'–a very thorny wild shrub, with small, round, inferior fruits; grown as a fence to protect crops.

'Var. 2'–a wild, thorny tree to 30 ft (9 m) with red-brown, tough-skinned fruit having slimy, acid-sweet pulp. Much eaten by children and rural folk. Commonly used in cooking and preserving.

'Var. 3'–a very thorny, spreading tree. Fruit dark-red or brown, with sour pulp. Bears heavily. Planted for shade.

'Var. 4' ('Bali bogri')–a wild, thornless tree, with greenish-yellow fruits blushed with red; pulp slightly slimy, mealy, sweet-and-acid, of good flavor. Bears heavily.

'Var. 5' ('Tenga-mitha-bogri')

–A wild, thorny tree, with oblong, brownish fruit; pulp slightly slimy, sweet-and-acid, with very pleasant flavor. Bears heavily. A choice jujube recommended for vegetative propagation and commercial cultivation.

Pollination

Pollen of the Indian jujube is thick and heavy. It is not airborne but is transferred from flower to flower by honeybees (Apis spp.), a yellow wasp (Polister hebraeus), and the house fly (Musca domestica).

The cultivars 'Banarasi Karaka', 'Banarasi Pewandi' and 'Thornless' are self-incompatible. 'Banarasi Karaka' and 'Thornless' are reciprocally cross-incompatible.

Climate

In China and India, wild trees are found up to an elevation of 5,400 ft (1,650 m) but commercial cultivation extends only up to 3,280 ft (1,000 m). In northern Florida, it is sensitive to frost. Young trees may be frozen to the ground but will recover. Mature trees have withstood occasional short periods of freezing temperatures without damage. In India, the minimum shade temperature for survival is 44.6º to 55.4º F (7º-13º C); the maximum, 98.6º to 118º F (37º-48º C). The tree requires a fairly dry climate with an annual rainfall of 6 to 88.5 in (15-225 cm), being unsuited to the lower, wetter parts of Malaysia. For high fruit production, the tree needs full sun.

Soil

In India, the tree does best on sandy loam, neutral or slightly alkaline. It also grows well on laterite, medium black soils with good drainage, or sandy, gravelly, alluvial soil of dry river-beds where it is vigorously spontaneous. Even moderately saline soils are tolerated. The tree is remarkable in its ability to tolerate water-logging as well as drought.

Propagation

The Indian jujube is widely grown from seeds, which may remain viable for 2 1/2 years but the rate of germination declines with age. Superior selections are grafted or budded onto seedlings of wild types. Vegetative propagation of highly prized varieties was practiced near Bombay about 1835 but kept secret until 1904, and then was quickly adopted by many people. Ring-budding has been popular in the past but has been largely superseded by shield-budding or T-budding. Grafted plants are less thorny than seedlings.

To select seeds for growing rootstocks, the stones must be taken from fruits that have fully ripened on the tree. They are put into a 17 to 18% salt solution and all that float are discarded. The stones that sink are dipped in 500 ppm thiourea for 4 hours, then cracked and the separated seeds will germinate in 7 days. Seeds in uncracked stones require 21 to 28 days. If seeds are sown in spring, the seedlings will be ready for budding in 4 months. Great care must be taken in transplanting nursery stock to the field because of the taproot. Therefore, the rootstocks may be raised directly in the field and budding done in situ. Inferior seedling trees, including wild trees, can be topworked to preferred cultivars in June and some fruit will be borne a year later. From 1935 to 1939, the Punjab Department of Agriculture top-worked 50,000 trees without cost to the growers. Air-layers will root if treated with IBA and NAA at 5,000 to 7,500 ppm and given 100 ppm boron. Cuttings of mature wood at least 2 years old can be rooted and result in better yields than those taken at a younger stage.

At Punjab University, horticulturists have experimented with stooling as a means of propagation. They transplanted one-year-old seedlings into stool beds, cut them back to 4 in (10 cm), found that the shoots would root only if ringed and treated with IBA, preferably at 12,000 ppm.

Culture



Untrimmed trees must be spaced at 36 to 40 ft (11-12 m), but carefully pruned trees can be set at 23 to 26 ft (7-8 m). Pruning should be done during the first year of growth to reduce the plant to one healthy shoot, and branches lower than 30 in (75 cm) should be removed. At the end of the year, the plant is topped. During the 2nd and 3rd years, the tree is carefully shaped. Thereafter, the tree should be pruned immediately after harvesting at the beginning of dormancy and 25 to 50% of the previous year's growth may be removed. Sometimes a second lighter pruning is performed just before flowering. There will be great improvement in size, quality and number of fruits the following season.

In India, it has been traditional to apply manure and ash as fertilizer, but, in recent years, each tree has been given annual treatments of 22 lbs (10 kg) manure with 1.1 lbs (0.5 kg) ammonium sulphate for every year of age up to the 5th year. More advanced farmers utilize only commercial fertilizer (NPK) in larger amounts, twice annually, the first at the rate of 110 lbs/acre (about 110 kg/ha) and the second at 172 lbs/acre (about 172 kg/ha). Growth regulators are now being utilized to bring about early and heavier blooming, enhance fruit setting, prevent fruit drop, and increase fruit size, and promote uniform ripening. These practices have demonstrated that an improved crop can bring in 2 to 3 times the revenue of that achieved by conventional practices.

During hot weather and also in the period of fruit development, irrigation is highly beneficial. Water-stress will cause immature fruit drop. In India, water has been applied as many as 35 times during the winter months. Zinc and boron sprays are sometimes applied to enhance glossiness of the fruits.

Season and harvesting

Plants are capable of seed production once they reach a height of about 1 metre. Wild-growing plants in northern Australia may take 8 years to reach this size. In Australia, plants growing under natural conditions are capable of producing seeds once they reach a height of about 1m. Plants between 1 and 2m high produce, on average, less than five fruits per season. Large plants (>5m high) can produce 5000 or more fruits in a single season.

In India, some types ripen as early as October, others from mid-February to mid-March, others in March, or mid-March, to the end of April. In the Assiut Governorate, there are 2 crops a year, the main in early spring, the second in the fall. In India the trees flower in July to October and fruits are formed soon after. In February–March the fruits are mature and in some places a second crop is produced in the fall. Pickings are done by hand from ladders and about 110 lbs (50 kg)is harvested per day. The fruits remaining on the tree are shaken down. Only fully mature fruits are picked directly from the tree. They are transported in open bags to avoid fermentation.

Seedling trees bear 5,000 to 10,000 small fruits per year in India. Superior grafted trees may yield as many as 30,000 fruits. The best cultivar in India, with fruits normally averaging 30 to the lb (66 to the kg), yields 175 lbs (77 kg) annually. Special cultural treatment increases both fruit size and yield.

World production and yield

The major production regions for Indian jujube are the arid and semi arid regions of India. From 1984 to 1995 with improved cultivars the production was 0.9 million tones on a land of 88,000 ha. The crop is also grown in Pakistan, Bangladesh and parts of Africa. Trees in northern India yield 80 to 200 kg of fresh fruit/tree/year when the trees are in their prime bearing age of 10–20 years.

Uses

The fruit is eaten raw, pickled or used in beverages. It is quite nutritious and rich in vitamin C. It is second only to guava and much higher than citrus or apples. In India, the ripe fruits are mostly consumed raw, but are sometimes stewed. Slightly underripe fruits are candied by a process of pricking, immersing in a salt solution. Ripe fruits are preserved by sun-drying and a powder is prepared for out-of-season purposes. It contains 20 to 30% sugar, up to 2.5% protein and 12.8% carbohydrates. Fruits are also eaten in other forms, such as dried, candied, pickled, as juice, or as ber butter. In Ethiopia, the fruits are used to stupefy fish.

The leaves are readily eaten by camels, cattle and goats and are considered nutritious.

In India and Queensland, the flowers are rated as a minor source of nectar for honeybees. The honey is light and of fair flavor.

Ber timber is hard, strong, fine-grained, fine-textured, tough, durable, and reddish in colour. It has been used to line wells, to make legs for bedsteads, boat ribs, agricultural implements, tool handles, and other lathe-turned items. The branches are used as framework in house construction and the wood makes good charcoal with a heat content of almost 4,900 kcal per kg. In addition, this species is used as firewood in many areas. In tropical Africa, the flexible branches are wrapped as retaining bands around conical thatched roofs of huts, and are twined together to form thorny corral walls to retain livestock.

The fruits are applied on cuts and ulcers; are employed in pulmonary ailments and fevers; and, mixed with salt and chili peppers, are given in indigestion and biliousness. The dried ripe fruit is a mild laxative. The seeds are sedative and are taken, sometimes with buttermilk, to halt nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pains in pregnancy. They check diarrhea, and are poulticed on wounds. Mixed with oil, they are rubbed on rheumatic areas. The leaves are applied as poultices and are helpful in liver troubles, asthma and fever and, together with catechu, are administered when an astringent is needed, as on wounds. The bitter, astringent bark decoction is taken to halt diarrhea and dysentery and relieve gingivitis. The bark paste is applied on sores. The root is purgative. A root decoction is given as a febrifuge, taenicide and emmenagogue, and the powdered root is dusted on wounds. Juice of the root bark is said to alleviate gout and rheumatism. Strong doses of the bark or root may be toxic. An infusion of the flowers serves as an eye lotion.

The fatty-acid methyl ester of Z. mauritiana seed oil meets all of the major biodiesel requirements in the USA (ASTM D 6751-02, ASTM PS 121-99), Germany (DIN V 51606) and European Union (EN 14214). The average oil yield is 4.95 kg oil/tree or 1371 kg oil/hectare, and arid or semi-arid regions may be utilised due to its drought resistance.

Pests and diseases

The greatest enemies of the jujube in are fruit flies. Some cultivars are more susceptible than others, the flies preferring the largest, sweetest fruits, 100% of which may be attacked while on a neighbouring tree, bearing a smaller, less-sweet type, only 2% of the crop may be damaged. The larvae pupate in the soil and it has been found that treatment of the ground beneath the tree helps reduce the problem. Control is possible with regular and effective spraying of insecticide.

A leaf-eating caterpillar and the green slug caterpillar attack the foliage. Mites forms scale-like galls on twigs retarding growth and reducing the fruit crop.Lesser pests include a small caterpillar, Meridarches scyrodes, that bores into the fruit.

The tree is subject to shrouding by a parasitic vine . Powdery mildew causes defoliation and fruit-drop, but it can be adequately controlled. Lesser diseases are sooty mould, brown rot and leaf-spot. Leafspot results from infestation by Cercospora spp. and Isariopsis indica var. zizyphi. In 1973, a witches'-broom disease caused by a mycoplasma-like organism was found in jujube plants near Poona University. It proved to be transmitted by grafting or budding diseased scions onto healthy Z. mauritiana seedlings. Leaf rust, caused by Phakopsora zizyphivulgaris, ranges from mild to severe on all commercial cultivars in the Punjab.

In storage, the fruits may be spotted by the fungi. Fruit rots are caused by Fusarium spp., Nigrospora oryzae, Epicoccum nigrum, and Glomerella cingulata.


BER, JUJUBE, ZIZYPHUS VULGARIS

Ber is the Urdu name for the fruit of the tree Zizyphus vulgaris, or mauritania or sativa and is called the jujube berry in English. It is also known as the Indian jujube or Chinese date. It has a brownish skin when ripe and smells a little like hops, with an astringent taste. These trees are believed to be native to Syria, but there is some evidence that they are also native to the Indian subcontinent.

In Pakistan the fruit can be found in the month of December, and it is sold then fresh, but can also be dried. In Europe the fruit was made into a cough medicine and tisane for medicinal reasons in times past.

In India the tree is sacred to Shiva and is known as “the tree which removes sorrow”, perhaps because of its sedative properties. It was depicted in the Ramayana so has been known for centuries in the subcontinent and was not a recently introduced species.

In Pakistan there are metaphorical uses for ber as they say that if you have a quarrel with a relative or close friend you should go and talk it over as a relationship is not like ber. If you leave the person you quarreled with alone for some time the rift will widen between you. If ber fall to the ground they are not damaged but the fruit gets better, and if you smooth things over after a quarrel the relationship will get better like the ber.
It is also said that if there are marriageable daughters in a house then suitors will come just as surely as if there were a ber tree and stones will come as the children try to knock the fruit off the tree.

Medicinal Properties of Ber

The fruit has been used in traditional medicine as an emollient, expectorant, coolant, anodyne and tonic and has been used as an antidote for aconite poisoning. It is given to relieve abdominal pains during pregnancy and can be applied to wounds when used in a poultice.

The leaves can be used as a laxative and for throat problems as a decoction and the same liquid can also be used for skin problems. The roots have wound healing properties too.

Medical researchers have found a “new” flavonoid in ber called zivulgarin and trials are underway to discover how it might benefit us. Oleamide found in an extract of Zizyphus jujube has been found to help fight Alzheimer’s disease, and help the cognitive processes.

Wood from the trees is used by villagers to make agricultural implements as it is hard and durable, while the leaves are used as fodder for sheep and goats, so all parts of the tree are useful and well utilized.

It has been found that there is saponins in he leaves and vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid in the fruit, as well as the B-complex vitamins, thiamin, riboflavin and pectin. It has immunostimulant, antioxidant and wound healing properties, and pectin is known to be useful in cases of diarrhoea. The fruit also helps lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Some of the triterpenoic acids isolated from the fruit are also believed to be useful in fighting cancer and HIV.

While the better-known, smooth-leaved Chinese jujube (Ziziphus jujuba Mill.) of the family Rhamnaceae, is of ancient culture in northern China and is widely grown in mild-temperate, rather dry areas, of both hemispheres, the Indian jujube, Z. mauritiana Lam. (syn. Z. jujuba L.) is adapted to warm climates. It is often called merely jujube, or Chinese date, which leads to confusion with the hardier species. Other English names are Indian Plum, Indian cherry and Malay jujube. In Jamaica it may be called coolie plum or crabapple; in Barbados, dunk or mangustine; in Trinidad and Tropical Africa, dunks; in Queensland, Chinee apple. In Venezuela it is ponsigne or yuyubo; in Puerto Rico, aprin or yuyubi; in the Dominican Republic, perita haitiana; in the French-speaking West Indies, pomme malcadi, pomme surette, petit pomme, liane croc chien, gingeolier or dindoulier. In the Philippines it is called manzana or manzanita ("apple" or "little apple"); in Malaya, bedara; in Indonesia and Surinam, widara; in Thailand, phutsa or ma-tan; in Cambodia, putrea; in Vietnam, tao or tao nhuc. In India it is most commonly known as ber, orbor.


 Season and Harvesting

In India, some types ripen as early as October, others from mid-February to mid-March, others in March, or mid-March, to the end of April. In the Assiut Governorate, there are 2 crops a year, the main in early spring, the second in the fall. In India, 2 or 3 pickings are done by hand from ladders, a worker being capable of manually harvesting about 110 lbs (50 kg) per day. The fruits remaining on the tree are shaken down. After wrapping in white cloth, the fruits are put into paper-lined burlap bags holding 110 lbs (50 kg) for long trips to markets throughout the country.

Yield

Seedling trees bear 5,000 to 10,000 small fruits per year in India. Superior grafted trees may yield as many as 30,000 fruits. The best cultivar in India, with fruits normally averaging 30 to the lb (66 to the kg), yields 175 lbs (77 kg) annually. Special cultural treatment increases both fruit size and yield.

Keeping Quality

The Indian jujube stands handling, shipment and marketing very well. Storage experiments in India showed that slightly underripe fruits ripen and keep for 8 days under wheat straw, 7 days under leaves, and 4 days in carbide (50 to 60 g).

Pests and Diseases

The greatest enemies of the jujube in India are fruit flies, Carpomyia vesuviana and C. incompleta. Some cultivars are more susceptible than others, the flies preferring the largest, sweetest fruits, 100% of which may be attacked while on a neighboring tree, bearing a smaller, less-sweet type, only 2% of the crop may be damaged. The larvae pupate in the soil and it has been found that treatment of the ground beneath the tree helps reduce the problem. Control is possible with regular and effective spraying of insecticide.

Susceptibility generally differs by cultivar. Control of the pests can be attained by regular spraying of insecticides. Powdery mildew is the most impor-tant disease and results in premature defoliation and fruit drop. The disease can be effectively controlled by using chemicals.

A leaf-eating caterpillar, Porthmologa paraclina, and the green slug caterpillar, Thosea sp., attack the foliage. A mite, Larvacarus transitans, forms scale-like galls on twigs retarding growth and reducing the fruit crop.

Lesser pests include a small caterpillar, Meridarches scyrodes, that bores into the fruit; the gray-hairy caterpillar, Thiacidas postica, also Tarucus theophrastus, Myllocerus transmarinus, and Xanthochelus superciliosus.

The tree is subject to shrouding by a parasitic vine (Cuscuta spp.). Powdery mildew (Oidium sp.) causes defoliation and fruit-drop. Sooty mold (Cladosporium zizyphi) causes leaves to fall. Leafspot results from infestation by Cercospora spp. and Isariopsis indica var. zizyphi. In 1973, a witches'-broom disease caused by a mycoplasma-like organism was found in jujube plants near Poona University. It proved to be transmitted by grafting or budding diseased scions onto healthy Z. mauritiana seedlings. Leaf rust, caused by Phakopsora zizyphivulgaris, ranges from mild to severe on all commercial cultivars in the Punjab.

Fruits on the tree are attacked by Alternaria chartarum, Aspergillus nanus, A. parasiticus, Helminthosporium atroolivaceum, Phoma hessarensis, and Stemphyliomma valparadisiacum. Twigs and branches may be affected by Entypella zizyphi, Hypoxylon hypomiltum, and Patellaria atrata. In storage, the fruits may be spotted by the fungi, Alternaria brassicicola, Phoma spp., Curvularia lunata, Cladosporium herbarum. Fruit rots are caused by Fusarium spp., Nigrospora oryzae, Epicoccum nigrum, and Glomerella cingulata.



Food Uses

In India, the ripe fruits are mostly consumed raw, but are sometimes stewed. Slightly underripe fruits are candied by a process of pricking, immersing in a salt solution gradually raised from 2 to 8%, draining, immersing in another solution of 8% salt and 0.2% potassium metabisulphite, storing for 1 to 3 months, rinsing and cooking in sugar sirup with citric acid. Residents of Southeast Asia eat the unripe fruits with salt. Ripe fruits crushed in water form a very popular cold drink. Ripe fruits are preserved by sun-drying and a powder is prepared for out-of-season purposes. Acid types are used for pickling or for chutneys. In Africa, the dried and fermented pulp is pressed into cakes resembling gingerbread.

Young leaves are cooked and eaten in Indonesia. In Venezuela, a jujube liqueur is made and sold as Crema de ponsigue. Seed kernels are eaten in times of famine.


Toxicity

In Ethiopia, the fruits are used to stupefy fish (possibly there is sufficient saponin for this purpose). The leaves contain saponin because they are known to produce lather if rubbed in water.

Other Uses



Wood: The wood is reddish, close-grained, fine-textured, hard, tough, durable, planing and polishing well. It has been used to line wells, to make legs for bedsteads, boat ribs, agricultural implements, house poles, tool handles, yokes, gunstocks, saddle trees, sandals, golf clubs, household utensils, toys and general turnery. It is also valued as firewood; is a good source of charcoal and activated carbon. In tropical Africa, the flexible branches are wrapped as retaining bands around conical thatched roofs of huts, and are twined together to form thorny corral walls to retain livestock.

Leaves: The leaves are readily eaten by camels, cattle and goats and are considered nutritious. Analyses show the following constituents (% dry weight): crude protein, 12.9-16.9; fat, 1.5-2.7; fiber, 13.5-17.1; N-free extract, 55.3-56.7; ash, 10.2-11.7; calcium, 1.42-3.74; phosphorus, 0.17-0.33; magnesium, 0.46-0.83; potassium, 0.47-1.57; sodium, 0.02-0.05; chlorine, 0.14-0.38; Sulphur, 0.13-0.33%. They also contain ceryl alcohol and the alkaloids, protopine and berberine.

The leaves are gathered as food for silkworms.

Dye: In Burma, the fruit is used in dyeing silk. The bark yields a non-fading, cinnamon-colored dye in Kenya.

Nectar: In India and Queensland, the flowers are rated as a minor source of nectar for honeybees. The honey is light and of fair flavor.

Lac: The Indian jujube is one of several trees grown in India as a host for the lac insect, Kerria lacca, which sucks the juice from the leaves and encrusts them with an orange-red resinous substance. Long ago, the lac was used for dyeing, but now the purified resin is the shellac of commerce. Low grades of shellac are made into sealing wax and varnish; higher grades are used for fine lacquer work, lithograph-ink, polishes and other products. The trees are grown around peasant huts and heavily inoculated with broodlac in October and November every year, and the resin is harvested in April and May. The trees must be pruned systematically to provide an adequate number of young shoots for inoculation.

Medicinal Uses: The fruits are applied on cuts and ulcers; are employed in pulmonary ailments and fevers; and, mixed with salt and chili peppers, are given in indigestion and biliousness. The dried ripe fruit is a mild laxative. The seeds are sedative and are taken, sometimes with buttermilk, to halt nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pains in pregnancy. They check diarrhea, and are poulticed on wounds. Mixed with oil, they are rubbed on rheumatic areas.

The leaves are applied as poultices and are helpful in liver troubles, asthma and fever and, together with catechu, are administered when an astringent is needed, as on wounds. The bitter, astringent bark decoction is taken to halt diarrhea and dysentery and relieve gingivitis. The bark paste is applied on sores. The root is purgative. A root decoction is given as a febrifuge, taenicide and emmenagogue, and the powdered root is dusted on wounds. Juice of the root bark is said to alleviate gout and rheumatism. Strong doses of the bark or root may be toxic. An infusion of the flowers serves as an eye lotion.

Uses

Fruits. Ber fruits are very nutritious and are usually eaten fresh. Relatively unknown, this fruit is a rich source of vitamin C. It is second only to guava and much higher than citrus or apples. It contains 20 to 30% sugar, up to 2.5% protein and 12.8% carbohydrates. Fruits are also eaten in other forms, such as dried, candied, pickled, as juice, or as ber butter. In Malawi, dried fruit is used to make a potent distilled alcoholic beverage. Yields of 80 to 130 kg/tree/year have been reported in Africa (von Maydell 1986).

Fodder. In parts of India and north Africa, the leaves of ber are used as nutritious fodder for sheep and goats. Analysis of the chemicals constituents on a dry weight basis indicate the leaves contain 15.4% crude protein, 15.8% crude fiber, 6.7% total minerals, and 16.8% starch. In India, the leaves are also gathered as food for silkworms (Gupta 1993).

Wood. Ber timber is hard—with a specific gravity of 0.93— strong, fine-grained and reddish in color. It is most often used to make agricultural implements. The branches are used as framework in house construction. Ber makes good charcoal with a heat content of almost 4,900 kcal per kg. In addition, this species is used as firewood in many areas.

Other uses. This thorny tree makes good live fencing and is an excellent agroforestry tree to use in hedges. In India, ber trees are a host for the lac insects Kerria lacca, which are found on the leaves and makes an orange-red resinous substance. The purified resin makes a shellac used to produce sealing wax and vanish. High quality ber shellac is used in fine lacquer work.

Silviculture

Natural reproduction is through seed, stump, root suckers and coppice. Many existing silvicultural practices were developed in India, where domestication work began as early as the 1950’s.

Propagation. Scientists in India have standardized propaga-tion techniques for ber establishment. Budding is the easiest method of vegetative propagation used for improved culti-vars. Different types of budding techniques have been utilized with ring-budding and shield-budding being the most successful. Wild varieties of ber are usually used as the root-stock. The most common being Z. rotundifolia in India and Z. spina-christi in Africa.

Seedlings to be used as rootstock can be raised from seed. Several studies indicate that germination can be improved by soaking seeds in sulfuric acid. Germination time can also be shortened to 7 days by carefully cracking the endocarp. Ber seedlings do not tolerate transplanting, therefore the best al-ternatives are to sow the seeds directly in the field or to use polythene tubes placed in the nursery bed. Seedlings are ready for budding in 3 to 4 months. In addition, seedlings from the wild cultivars can be converted into improved culti-vars by top-working and grafting. Nurseries are used for large scale seedling multiplication and graft production.

Spacing and fertilizer requirements. For orchard estab-lishment recommended spacing is 7 x 7 m or 8 x 8 m. The wider spacing is preferred in areas with high rainfall where canopy development is vigorous. Many studies in India recommend the application of both farmyard manure and com-mercial fertilizers to maximum production. In Africa, the recommended fertilizer application is 20 to 120 kg N, 100 to 120 kg P, and 20 to 50 kg K per hectare. Fruit production begins in the 4th year with full production in the 10th to 12th year (von Maydell 1986).

Training and pruning. It is essential to train ber trees during the first 2 to 3 years to build a strong frame. Otherwise, these trees have a tendency to grow horizontally and downwards. If untrained, trees develop into a spreading bushy form with long slender branches. Yearly pruning is also important be-cause fruits are produced on current season’s growth. Regular pruning induces sufficient new growth to produce a good fruit crop annually. Removing 25% of the growth is usually sufficient. Pruning should occur when plants are dormant.


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