Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Garcinia cowa Roxb. ex DC., Prodr. 1: 561. 1824; T. Anderson in Fl. Brit. India 1: 262. 1874. p.p. G. roxburghii Wight, Ill. Ind. Bot. 1: 125. 1840, p.p . Oxycarpus gangetica Buch.- Ham. in Mem. Wern. Soc. 5: 344. 1826.

Asm.: Kau-thekera, kaugach; Beng.: Kowa, Kau; Duffla: Blachung-Changne; Garo: Tekra, Rengram; Hindi: Kattaphal; Or.: Stubana; Mani. & Naga: Kau; Eng.: The Cowa fruit, The Cowa moangosteen.

Deciduous trees, 9 - 18 m tall with oval crown; bark greyish-brown outside, almost smooth, inside red, soon reddish-brown, exuding yellow gum; wood greyish-white, moderately hard; branchlets more or less 4-angular; drooping with lower ones reaching ground. Leaves 8 - 17 x 2.5 - 7 cm, broadly lanceolate, acute at both ends, apex sometimes acuminate, membranous, dull when dry, lateral veins ca 12 - 16 pairs, slender, rather straight, 2.5 - 4 mm apart, inarching with an intramarginal nerve; stipules minute, fugaceous, leaving a stipular scar; petioles 8 - 13 mm long. Male flowers: 3 - 8 in axillary or terminal fascicles, rather stout. Sepals 4, ca 4 - 6 mm long, unequal, broadly ovate, fleshy, yellow. Petals 4, ca 8 - 10 mm long, oblong, yellow flushed pink or red. Stamens numerous on a convex, fleshy receptacle; anthers oblong, tetragonous, bilocular, on very short filaments, dehsicence vertical by 4 clefts. Rudimentary pistil absent. Female flowers: 2 - 3 (- 5) in terminal fascicles, larger than male flowers, ca 1.5 cm in diam., yellow; pedicels short. Staminodes in a ring round the ovary, with unequal filaments. Ovary subglobose; stigma sessile, flat, deeply divided into 6 - 8 wedge-shaped rays. Berries 2 - 4 cm in diam., depressed, globose, smooth, dark yellow; pericarp thin. Seeds 4 - 8, 13 - 20 mm long, oblong with a soft aril.

Fl. & Fr. Dec. - Sept.

Distrib. India: Frequent in evergreen, semievergreen and tropical forests up to 1200 m. sometimes along streams. Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Orissa and Andaman & Nicobar Islands (Andaman Islands); sometimes cultivated in Botanic gardens.

Bangladesh, Myanmar, China and Thailand.

Notes. This species yields an inferior gamboge used in preparation of a yellow varnish. The ripe, acidic fruit is eaten and is pleasant in flavour and to taste but contains a yellow, sticky juice which gives a very uncomfortable feeling in the mouth. The sliced fruits are sundried and preserved in Assam for treating dysentery. Elephants also relish the fruits. The young leaves are cooked and eaten as a vegetable.

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