The mangosteen is a seasonal delight for everyone.
Touted as the ‘Queen of Fruits’, the mangosteen is certainly a royal jewel, when it comes to Southeast Asian fruits. It has also captured the imagination of many and found countless fans, not just in the East but in the Western world where it remains a rare and pricey treat.
Here are some juicy facts about the mangosteen:
- Legend has it, that Queen Victoria (1837-1901) offered a reward of 100 pounds sterling, which was a princely sum, to anyone who could deliver fresh mangosteens to her. This is believed to be the reason why the mangosteen is known as the ‘Queen of Fruits’.
- James Herbert Veitch was a renowned, Victorian era horticulturist who wrote Hortus Veitchii — an important reference about plants. Veitch visited Java in 1892 to eat mangosteens. “It is necessary to eat the mangosteen grown within three or four degrees of latitude of the equator to realise at all the attractive and curious properties of this fruit.”
- In Southeast Asia, the mangosteen has been used to treat skin infections, wounds, dysentery and urinary tract infections.
- Wood from the mangosteen tree has been used to make spears in Thailand.
- In China, the rind of the mangosteen was used to tan leather because of its tannin content.
- Mangosteen extracts in laboratory tests have shown that it can stop certain bacteria and fungi from growing but further research is required to confirm its effects on humans.
- In a study on rats, the rind of the mangosteen appeared to reduce the risk of cancer cell growth in the bowels. Its ability to inhibit cancer growth in humans hasn’t been tested.
- Polyphenols (xanthones and tannins) make the skin of the mangosteen astringent while it is unripe. This deters insects, fungi, plant viruses, bacteria and animals from eating it.
References: Cancer.org; New York Times; Morton, J. 1987. Mangosteen. p. 301–304. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.; WebMD