Most travellers to Sri Lanka enjoy the taste of tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapples and mangos, which are of a much higher quality on nthe tropical island than after transports to Western supermarkets. Though many tropical fruits are well-known to Westerners, there is still a variety of fruits to discover, most of them are native to Sri Lanka, in contrast to the more famous tropical fruits now grown on all countries. Sri Lanka's genuine fruit are not only an additional excitement for the traveller, they play an important role for the wildlife and can be found. Here is a list of four fruits of Sri Lanka`s dryzone, which will be seen by visitors of the island`s famous national parks.
The Palu Tree is one of the dominant and widly distributed tree species in the wildlife areas of Sri Lanka such as Yala Park, Wasgamuwa Park, Wilpattu Park, Minneriya Park, Udawalawe Park, Galoya Park, Kumana Park, Lahugala Park, Bundala Park, Anuradapura and Polonaruwa districts and dryzone regions and habitats. Manilkara hexandra, the renowned Ceylon Ironwood, is a slowly growing evergreen tree.
The ripen Palu berry or fruit, called Palai in Tamil or Khirni in Hindi and Gujarati, is a food source for many birds and mammal species and also for human beings who live in those Sri Lankan wildlife areas. Palu bears small fruits which turn yellow at maturity. The fruits are about 1.5 cm long and ellipsoid in shape. Palu fruits have a pear-like, slightly grainy texture and are very sweet and liked by people. To eat it, they simply peel back the skin and pop it in the mouth, taking care not to swallow the round seeds inside.
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Weera trees, called Veerai in Tamil, are widely spread throughout the Yala National Park in the southern dryzone and also in the Vanni areas in northern Sri Lanka and other dryzone forests and scrublands. Weera is favoured as firewood.
Weera fruits attract many species of birds as well as some large mammals species that in turn help to disperse this plant to new locations. Besides bears, also buffaloes eat Weera fruits. The ripen fruit is crimsom, it is edible for humans but not totally of a sweety taste. Due to its phenolic and flavonoid contents it is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
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Madan is common throughout the dryzone areas and is a valuable source of food for many faunal species inhabiting these areas. Madan is a an important Ayurvedic medicinal herb, due to the medicinal value its bark, fruit and seeds are used in traditional Ayurveda. Madan is said to be helpful lower blood glucose levels. Due to their nutritional value, Madan leaves are also used as food for livestock.
The slow-growing trees can reach heights of up to 30 m and can live more than 100 years. They start flowering from March to April, the fruits ripen in may or June. Madan fruits have a combination of sweet, sour and astringent flavours, it can colour human tongues purple.
The Madan tree is now widespread in tropical areas of the Americas, too, but originally it is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. In India it is called Jambul. The name of the fruit is sometimes mistranslated as blackberry, although it is not related to the Rubus genus of European blackberries.
Maha Eramania, known as Churna in Hindi and as Chunna in other languages, is very common in the scrub jungles in Sri Lanka’s dryzone. It is small tree or straggling shrub, armed with stipular spines.
Eraminia fruits are known to attract many species of birds and some big mammals and even butterflies. The unripe fruit is green and hard. While riping it turns transparetnly white. The over ripe Eramania fruits are very sweet. Maha Eramania berries contain a good amount of minerals and anti-oxidants. In India, the berries are used to treat lung ailments and fevers.
Maha Eramania belongs to the Ziziphus genus. Internationally, all Ziziphus trees or their stone fruits are often named “Jujube” after the Chinese species Ziziphus jujuba.
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