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This Mysterious Red Berry of the Tropics

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Deepa is a freelance researcher and journalist. She writes and makes documentaries and videos.


A Summer Fruit

This plant bears fruits towards the end of summer, that is, in April-May in our tropical climate. The fruit is sour-sweet and the edible part is obtained by peeling open the red, soft, yet leathery rind. Inside, there is a seed covered by jelly-like flesh. It is the flesh that is eaten. As kids, whenever we ate this fruit, one or two seeds would be swallowed accidentally because the flesh is slippery inside the mouth. Children in my place used to call this berry, the 'Kotta' fruit. The lush green shrub with heavy fruit setting is a real beauty to look at. The fruits are directly attached to the stem.

The Fruit and the Plant


The Plant Characteristics

This plant is a shrub that has some properties of a climber. Though the stem is hardy, it elongates like vines and leans on sturdier nearby plants. The leaves are broad and the stem has random thorns.

There is nothing much to talk about it as I do not know what it is. However, every summer I find them in some fixed spots inside my homestead- making an inviting and spontaneous appearance. The plant as such is too inconspicuous to notice unless it has red berries on it.

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An Endangered Species?

Most probably, this plant belongs to some endangered category as I have not seen it anywhere outside my village after I grew up. I wonder how many such wild berries have disappeared as we urbanise and destroy our natural ecosystem in the process. I do not see this plant identified in any of the internet databases I have access to. I have also checked a number of university websites in India which list and identify the regional flora. Nowhere in them do I see a picture or description that matches this plant.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Deepa

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