Bael trees were mentioned as far back as 800 BC in India. They are found wild in SE Asia in parts of India, Burma, and Burma itself. It is considered a sacred tree in Hinduism. The fruit can be eaten whole, cut up, or juiced. Bael fruits may be cut in a moiety, or the soft types are ruptured, and the pulp, dressed with palm sugar, eaten for breakfast, as is a prevalent practice in Indonesia. Bael has been acknowledged in India because of prehistoric times. It is handled as a sacred tree by utilizing Hindus who partner it with Lord Shiva. According to Shiva Purana, an eighth-century AD Sanskrit scripture, the bael tree is the manifestation of Shiva himself. Bael occupies a high role in Hindu mythology, and there are numerous recollections about it in Hindu scriptures. Bael has trifoliate compound leaves. Each lobe is verbalized to denote three features of Lord Shiva, i.e. creation, renovation and ravagement. They are adscititiously believed to designate the three ocular perceivers of Lord Shiva. Their providing to Lord Shiva is regarded as fantastic in putting off sins of the final three births. Offering prayers under a bael tree is considered benign, and the one who does it is verbally expressed to become blissful and prosperous. Taking a bath while sitting underneath a bael tree is as good as bathing in the holy river the Ganges or the sacred ponds at scores of Hindu holy places. Bael tree has withal been called Shreebriksha, the tree of prosperity and good fortune. The antediluvian Sanskrit scripture Banihipurana verbally expresses that Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth, was born as a sacred cow and the bael tree arose from her dung. Due to this sodality with the goddess of wealth, it is believed to bring prosperity. According to another legend, Lakshmi and Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of cognition, were both wives of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu doted Saraswati more than he doted Lakshmi. Enraged at this, Lakshmi commenced the worship of Shiva. Lakshmi was engaged in cogitation of Shiva for a very long time, but Shiva did not appear afore her. After a while, Lakshmi became the Bael tree and now Shiva dwells in the tree.
Trees of the bael fruit genus are slow-growing, medium in size, up to 40 or 50 feet (12-15 meters) tall, with strong trunks, fragrant bark, and spreading branches with spines at their tips. Young fruits have a clear, gummy sap. The Bael tree (Aegle Marmelos) is an important medicinal tree species that can be found among the roughly 250,000 species of terrestrial plants growing on the planet. The tree is also popularly known as the Bengal quince and golden apple in India and is sacred to Hindus. As almost every devotee worships Lord Shiva, Bael trees are usually planted around temples. Bael is used for ayurvedic medicine by different South Asian inhabitants. Thousands of years ago, bael was used as a medicinal and food object, and human beings acknowledged this when it was referenced in the well-known Sanskrit epic poem Ramayana. Aromatic trees, with fruits, leaves, bark, roots, and seeds used in ayurvedic medicine and people's medicine systems to treat several diseases and ailments. it is sweet, sweet-smelling, and cooling. Its wood is yellow-white and hard, but not strong. The sluggish growth of the spines and the introduction of three pamphlets are the primary differences. It sends out pleasant-smelling white blossoms in panicle bunches and is sometimes used in fragrances. The natural product has a pyriform (pear-shaped) to an elliptical shape and measures 5–25 cm (2–10 inches) across. A few trees are scattered in the lower south of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, supplementally. No standardized varieties subsist, albeit each region has a designation for its particular type of fruit. Examples of these localized denominations are Kaghzi, Dhara Road, and Faizabad Local. India's bael season is February through May. In the south, fruits form on the trees as early as October, albeit they do not ripen until early winter. Though finding fresh bael in the off-season is arduous, some suppliers store unripe fruits and gas them into ripeness during key festivals. These off-season fruits fetch high prices. Unripe bael has gray-green skin. Others have the green colour of saccharine lime fruit. As the fruit ripens, the gray yields to a golden yellow hue but maintains some of its green colourings. Some bael fruits become speckled like an egg, while others develop an orange blush. When ripe, the stem should facilely fall off the fruit. Overripe bael shows cracks and mold at the stem end.
Bael's orangey flesh tastes like an amalgamation of saccharine papaya and sour lime, with the ratio depending on ripeness and particular cultivar. Some may be congenially saccharine, while others are too sour to victual without a pinch of sugar. Because of bael's incredible genetic diversity, the fruits have no uniform flavor profile. The texture of a ripe bael fruit ranges from sticky, slimy, and creamy. Bael may exasperate the throat of some who endeavour its resinous, pasty flesh. Its scent, while off-putting to some, resembles peach, lime, and ardency fruit.
Chemical components of Bael:- An incipient natural product oxazoline derivative denominated Aegle marmelosine (along with eight kenned compounds (2-9) were isolated from roots and twigs of Aegle marmelos. Compounds 1-6 were isolated from the roots whereas compounds 7-9 were obtained from twigs. Compounds 5 and 6 were withal detected from the twigs. All structures were characterized by extensive 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopic methods. Aegle marmelos; oxazoline; coumarins; alkaloids and Rutaceae. Morphology and Floral Biology:-Aegle marmelos Correa is deciduous, 6–8 metres in height with trifoliate aromatic leaves. The branches sometimes bear long straight spines. The bark is shallowly furrowed and corky. The bisexual flowers are proximately 2 cm wide, borne in clusters, saccharine-scented and greenish-white. The shallow calyx has 5 short sepals and is pubescent on the outside. The 5 petals are oblong ovoid, blunt, thick, pale greenish-white, and dotted with oil glands. Stamens are numerous, sometimes coherent in bundles. Ovaries are oblong ovoid, remotely tapering, axis wide, cells numerous (8–20), diminutive arranged in a circle with numerous ovules in each cell. Fruits are 5–7.5 cm in diameter, globose, oblong pyriform, rind gray or yellow, pulp saccharine, thick yellow, orange to brown. Seeds are numerous and arranged in the cells circumvented by slimy transparent mucilage. Seeds have wooly hairs.
Botany- Bael is a subtropical and deciduous tree, which is very hardy and can thrive well under diverse agro-climatic conditions. The genus Aegle consists of two or three species. The generic denomination is Greek and the species marmelos is of Portuguese inchoation. The tree reaches a height of 6 to 8 metres with trifoliate, aromatic leaves. The terminal leaflet is 5.7 cm long and 2.8 cm broad with a long petiole. The two lateral leaflets are 4.1 cm long and 2.2 cm wide, virtually sessile, (Allen, 1969). Some leaf abnormalities of A. marmelos have been described (Rao, 1951). Abnormalities of lobation have withal been reported by Dutta and Mitra (1960). The leaf characters, development pattern, and shoot magnification of eight culled genotypes of bael were studied by Misra et al. (1999). The branches are unwonted with vigorous, axillary spines. The bark is shallowly furrowed and corky. The bisexual flowers are proximately 2 cm wide and borne in lateral panicles of about 10 flowers, which are saccharinely scented and greenish-white. The calyx is gamosepalous, 5 lobed, and pubescent. There are 5 petals (infrequently 4); corolla polypetalous, leathery. The androecium is polyandrous, sometimes coherent in bundles while Gynoecium is light green, has a capitate stigma and a terminal style. The ovary is oblong ovoid, scarcely tapering with a wide axis. Cells are numerous, minuscule, and arranged in a circle, with numerous ovules in each cell. The fruit is customarily globose with a pericarp proximately smooth, greyish-yellow, about 3 mm thick, hard, and filled with soft, yellow, and orange, very fragrant and congenially flavoured pulp The number of cells (seed cavities) in the fruit arranged in a circle is equivalent to the number of cells (seed cavities) in the ovary. Seeds are numerous, compressed, and arranged in proximately packed tiers in the cell circumvented by very tenacious, slimy, transparent mucilage, which becomes hard when dry. The testa is white with woolly hairs and the embryo has sizably voluminous cotyledons (Hume, 1957 and Reuther et al., 1967.
Crop Culture (Horticulture)- Bael is conventionally propagated by seeds. The seeds are recalcitrant and can not be stored for longer periods under mundane storage conditions. Budding, patch, or shield on seedling rootstocks in June or July gives very good prosperity. Air layering is withal prosperous under sultry tropical conditions. In vitro propagation has additionally been standardized but it is not feasible commercially.
Ecology- Bael can habituate prosperously to a wide range of habitats from arid, semiarid to mesophytic conditions. It can be grown up to an altitude of 1219 metres above mean sea level and is not injured by temperatures as low as -8°C. Soil- Bael can be grown in any type of soil such as sandy, clay, waterlogged, unirrigated, acidic, or alkaline in the pH range of 5–10.
Training and Pruning- Bael trees may be trained in a modified central bellwether. Pruning is done twice a year, once in May and the other in August. Pruning is inhibited to the abstraction of dead and diseased twigs/branches in May while in August salubrious leaves are pruned for sale. Pabulum deficiency of nitrogen and zinc is mundane in Bael orchards and can be rectified by soil application or foliar spray. Pests and Diseases- More than a dozen insects have been found victualing on Bael. Phyllocnistis citrella, Aonidiella aurantii, and Papilio demoleus are paramount insects that can be facilely controlled by the utilization of insecticides. Bacterial shot aperture, fruit canker, and gummosis are earnest diseases. Fruit cracking is the physiological disorder in some genotypes of Bael which occurs just afore ripening.
Harvesting and Yield- Fruits take about 11 months to ripen. These are harvested with fruit stalk when the colour changes to yellowish-green. A full-grown tree engenders from 400-1000 fruits depending upon the cultivar.
Traditional medicine utilization of Bael:- As per Dhanvantri Nighantu, unripe fruit is Sangrahi, Agnidipak, Katu (pungent), Tikta (acerbic), Kashaya (astringent) in taste, Uhsna Veerya, Tikshna, and Kapha Nashik (alleviates Kapha), hence used to treat Grahaniroga, Pravhika and Agnimandya as an ingredient of sundry Ayurvedic formulations, like Bilvapanchak with, Bilvadi Leha and Bilvadi ghrita, etc. The leaves, bark, roots, fruits, and seeds are utilized in traditional medicine to treat sundry illnesses, albeit there is no clinical evidence that these methods are safe or efficacious. The fresh ripe pulp of the higher quality cultivars, and the "sherbet" made from it, are taken for their mild laxative, tonic, and digestive effects. A decoction of the unripe fruit, with fennel and ginger, is prescribed in cases of hemorrhoids. It has been surmised that the psoralen in the pulp increases tolerance of sunlight and avails in the maintaining of mundane skin colour. It is employed in the treatment of leucoderma. For medicinal use, the adolescent fruits, while still tender, are commonly sliced horizontally and sun-dried, and sold in local markets. Because of the astringency, especially of the wild fruits, the unripe Bael is most prized as an expedient of halting diarrhea and dysentery, which are prevalent in India during the summer months. A acerbic, light-yellow oil extracted from the seeds is given in 1.5 g doses as a purgative. It contains 15.6% palmitic acid, 8.3% stearic acid, 28.7% linoleic, and 7.6% linolenic acid. The seed residue contains 70% protein. The acerbic, pungent leaf juice, mixed with honey, is given to allay catarrh and pyrexia. With ebony pepper integrated, it is taken to palliate jaundice and constipation accompanied by edema. The leaf decoction is verbally expressed to alleviate asthma. A sultry poultice of the leaves is considered an efficacious treatment for ophthalmia and sundry inflammations, additionally febrile delirium and acute bronchitis. A decoction of the flowers is utilized as ocular perceiver lotion and given as an antiemetic (a drug that is efficacious against regurgitating and nausea). The bark contains tannin and coumarin, aegelinol; additionally, the furocoumarin, umbelliferone, a hydroxy coumarin; and the alkaloids, figurine, and skimmianine. The bark decoction is administered in cases of malaria. Decoctions of the root are taken to assuage palpitations of the heart, indigestion, and bowel inflammations; withal to surmount regurgitating.
The fruit, roots, and leaves have antibiotic activity. The root, leaves, and bark are utilized in treating snakebite. Chemical studies have revealed the following properties in the roots: psoralen, xanthotoxin, O-methylscopoletin, scopoletin, tembamide, and skimmed; additionally, recursion, haplopine, and aegelinol, in the root bark.
Medical utilization of Bael:-
Management of bacteria-induced diarrhea and cholera-Bael fruit has ant-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties that avail minimizes diarrhea. Tannins present in bael avail in fighting against the infection called shigellosis that causes diarrhea and cholera.
Good for digestion- Bael is the best fruit for all digestive quandaries that have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties. Its magical juice may control gastric ulcers caused due to the imbalance of mucosa and levels of oxidative stress in the gastric tract. It additionally has laxative properties that obviate constipation.
Truncates cholesterol- Bael juice avails in cholesterol control and additionally minimizes blood cholesterol levels. It is a cardio-protective fruit that is opulent in antioxidants that truncates the jeopardy of heart diseases.
· Avail in diabetes management- The bark and branches of bael are affluent with a compound-Feronia gum that truncates the ascended blood glucose level. In Ayurveda, bael is an essential remedy for diabetes. Bael stimulates the pancreas and avails them to engender insulin that controls sugar levels in the blood.
·Obviate skin infections -Due to the presence of anti-bacterial, anti-fungus, and anti-inflammatory properties of bael, it is an excellent remedy for skin infections. Bael leaf oil inhibits prevalent types of fungus that infect the skin. It can withal be benign for skin rash and itchy bumps.
Act as a blood purifier-It is a blood purifier because it is affluent in minerals that avail flushes all toxins from the body. It is a natural detoxifying agent and thus, averts kidney and liver dysfunctions.
Avail in scurvy-Bael is affluent in vitamin C and antioxidants that avail controls your symptoms of scurvy. Scurvy can cause a deficiency of Vitamin C in the body resulting in sore arms and legs and impuissance. Bael juice is a good source of vitamins and remedies for this disease.
Bael fruit Raw or Ripened, stoned or crushed…A god's gift for human health and digestive system. Bael fruits are a power punch of various nutrients like beta-carotene, protein, riboflavin and vitamin C. It is loaded with vitamin B1 and B2, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, carotene and possesses good amounts of minerals like calcium, potassium, fiber and good fats.
Is serves human health like The antibacterial property of Bael helps lower the colonization of harmful bacteria in the gut and treats Diarrhea, Tannins and mucilage content of the Bael fruit reduces the secretion of gastric acid and prevents the damage to the stomach lining, thus reducing the ulcer formation, The Bael fruit is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds called tannins, which ease stomach upset by reducing the inflammation within the digestive tract..
(Writer is the Principal, IHM Bhopal & Chef Rajesh Kumar,IHM, Bhopal)