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Langsat

Lanzones

“Lanzones” by Mike Gonzalez (TheCoffee) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Lanzones fruits from the Philippines

Lanzones (Lansium domesticum) fruits from the Philippines

Lansium parasiticum (Lansium domesticum), also known as langsat or lanzones, is a species of tree in the Mahogany family. The plant, which originates from western Southeast Asia, bears edible fruit. It is the provincial flower for the Indonesian province of South Sumatra.

The fruit can be elliptical, oval, or round, measuring 2 to 7 centimetres (0.79 to 2.76 in) by 1½ to 5 centimetres (0.59 to 1.97 in) in size. Fruits look much like small potatoes and are borne in clusters similar to grapes. The larger fruits are on the variety known as duku. It is covered by thin, yellow hair giving a slightly fuzzy aspect. The skin thickness varies with the varieties, from 2 millimetres (0.079 in) to approximately 6 millimetres (0.24 in). The fruit contains 1 to 3 seeds, flat, and bitter tasting; the seeds are covered with a thick, clear-white aril that tastes sweet and sour. The taste has been likened to a combination of grape and grapefruit and is considered excellent by most. The sweet juicy flesh contains sucrose, fructose, and glucose. For consumption, cultivars with small or undeveloped seeds and thick aril are preferred.

Cultivars

There are numerous cultivars of L. parasiticum. Overall, there are two main groups of cultivars, those named duku and those named langsat. There are also mixed duku-langsat varieties.

Those called duku generally have a large crown, thick with bright green leaves, with short bunches of few fruit. The individual fruit are large, generally round, and have somewhat thick skin that does not release sap when cooked. The seeds are small, with thick flesh, a sweet scent, and a sweet or sour alin.

Meanwhile, the variant commonly known as langsat generally has thinner trees, with a less dense crown consisting of dark green leaves and stiff branches. The bunches are longer, and each bunch holds between 15 and 25 large, egg-shaped fruit. The skin is thin and releases a white sap when cooked. The flesh is watery and tastes sweet and sour. Unlike duku, langsat fruit does not last long after being picked. Three days after being picked, the skin blackens; this does not affect the fruit’s taste.

L. domesticum var. aquaeum is distinguished by its hairy leaves, as well as the tightly packed dark yellow fruit on its bunches. The fruit tends to be small, with thin skin and little sap; the skin is difficult to remove. To be eaten, the fruit is bitten and the flesh sucked through the hole created, or rubbed until the skin breaks and the seeds are retrieved. In Indonesia the fruit has several names, including kokosan, pisitan, pijetan, and bijitan. The seeds are relatively large, with thin, sour flesh.

Distribution

Lansium parasiticum was originally native to Southeast Asia.

Agriculturally, the tree is grown throughout the entire Southeast asian region, ranging from Southern India to the Philippines for its fruit. In the Philippines, where it is locally referred to as the lanzones or langsa, the plant is grown mostly on the southern parts of the island of Luzon, especially in Paete, Laguna, due to the species’ narrow range of conditions favorable to its survival. It is also found in abundance on Northern Mindanao particularly in places as Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, and Camiguin. The Camiguin variety is especially sweet and succulent.

In Indonesia, Langsat is very popular fruit in West Kalimantan (Pontianak, Indonesia), Sulawesi and South Sumatra (also called ‘Duku’). In Sarawak, northern Borneo, the name Duku is reserved for the larger-sized varieties of Langsat, near the size of golf balls, claimed sweeter and with less sap in the peel. A variety called Dokong exported to mainland Malaysia from Thailand (this variety is called ‘Longkong’ Thai:ลองกอง in Thailand) grows tighter in the clusters, giving it a faceted shape, and is preferred by many over the standard Langsat.

Within mainland Asia, the tree is cultivated in Thailand (Thai: ลางสาด, langsat), Cambodia, Vietnam, India, and Malaysia. Outside the region, it has also been successfully transplanted and introduced to Hawaii and Surinam. It grows well in the wetter areas (120 inches/3 metres or more annual rainfall) of Costa Rica, where it is still very rare, having been introduced decades ago by the United Fruit Company. A major hindrance to its acceptance seems to be that it is very slow in bearing, said to take 12 years or more from seed. However, air layering from mature trees, as well as grafting, are said to work well and produce much faster.

It grows wild in Sumatra forests where a wide and longest river in Indonesia lay across the southern part of Sumatra. The river rises and floods the forest lands for a few months, when it subsides, the flood leaves plenty of fallen leaves and twigs enriching and moistening a large area of the forest bed, resulting in ideal conditions for the plant to grow naturally. Local people will come and harvest it as natural forest produce. They climb up the tree with ripe fruits (after observing it), holding with their hands on the smaller branches and shaking it. Mature fruits will fall easily down to the ground. They will then collect it and transport it on a small boat on a nearby river to the villages and sell it. In a good year a 20-year-old tree can produce 100 kg of fruits, however fruiting is often uneven.

Uses

L. parasiticum is cultivated mainly for its fruit, which can be eaten raw. The fruit can also be bottled in syrup. The wood is hard, thick, heavy, and resilient, allowing it to be used in the construction of rural houses.

Some parts of the plant are used in making traditional medicine. The bitter seeds can be pounded and mixed with water to make a deworming and ulcer medication. The bark is used to treat dysentery and malaria; the powdered bark can also be used to treat scorpion stings. The fruit’s skin is used to treat diarrhea, and in the Philippines the dried skin is burned as a mosquito repellent. The skin, especially of the langsat variety, can be dried and burned as incense.

The greatest producers of Lansium parasiticum are Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. The production is mostly for internal consumption, although some is exported to Singapore and Hong Kong.

Nutritional Value

Nutritional Value per 100 g

  • Moisture 86.5 g
  • Protein 0.8 g
  • Carbohydrates 9.5 g
  • Fibre 2.3 g
  • Calcium 20.0 mg
  • Phosphorus 30.0 mg
  • Carotene (Vitamin A) 13.0 I.U.
  • Thiamine 89 mcg
  • Riboflavin 124 mcg
  • Ascorbic Acid 1.0 mg
  • Phytin 1.1 mg

Common Names

The tree and its fruit are known under a variety of common names:

  • Balinese: ceruring
  • Bengali: lotka, bhubi
  • Burmese: langsak, duku
  • Cebuano: buahan, lansones
  • English: langsat, lanzones
  • Khmer: long kong
  • Indonesian: duku, langsat, kokosan
  • Malay: langsat, lansa, langseh, langsep, duku
  • Sinhalese: gadu guda
  • Philippine Spanish: lanzón (plural: lanzones)
  • Tagalog: lansones, buwa-buwa
  • Thai: langsad (for the thin-skinned variety), longkong (for the thick-skinned variety)
  • Vietnamese: dâu da đất, lòn bon, bòn bon

 
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