Characteristics of Indian Jujube Tree (Ziziphus mauritiana) in the Wild

Ziziphus mauritiana
The Indian Jujube or Indian Plum is a species of tropical fruit trees from the Rhamnaceae family. This tree is believed to have originated from the regions of Indonesia and Malaysia. Today it is widely naturalized in almost all tropical climates.

In its native habitat, Indonesia, this tree is known by many names such as Bidara, Widara, Dara, Bĕdara, Rangga, Kalangga, Bukol, Bĕkul, Ko, Kok, Kom, and Kon.

This tree grows upright and becomes invasive in some areas, including Fiji and Australia, and has even become a weed in Northern Australia.

 

Characteristics of Indian Jujube Leaf

Ziziphus mauritiana Leaf
Source : flickr.com/Forest and Kim Starr

The leaves are oval or oblong with rounded tips and 3 ribs that are pressed at the bottom. Each leaf is about 3-9 cm long and 2-8 cm wide and has fine serrations around the edges. The color of the Indian Jujube leaves is a shiny dark green and slightly silver-gray on the underside.

 

Characteristics of Indian Jujube Flower

Ziziphus mauritiana Flower
Source : flickr.com/Alka Khare

Indian Jujube has small, yellow, and usually paired flowers that appear on the axilla of the leaves. Some cultivars can bloom the flowers in the morning, whereas generally in the afternoon.

In India and Queensland, the Indian Jujube flower is valued as a minor source of nectar for honey bees.

 

Characteristics of Indian Jujube Fruit

Ziziphus mauritiana Fruit
Source : flickr.com/CIFOR

Indian Jujube fruit has a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Generally, the fruits are berries, oval, 2-6 cm long, and depending on the variety.

The flesh is white and crispy. When slightly ripe, the Indian Jujube fruit is slightly juicy and has a fragrant aroma. The red fruit skin is smooth, shiny, and thin. The seeds are oval or oblate, hard, rough, 6 mm long, brown and each fruit contains 2 elliptical seeds.

Ripe fruit smells like apples but becomes musky when too ripe.

Monastery fruit is rich in vitamin C, it is the fruit with the second most vitamin C after guava and much higher than oranges or apples. Also, it contains 20% to 30% sugar, 2.5% protein, and 12.8% carbohydrates.

 

Characteristics of Indian Jujube Tree

Ziziphus mauritiana Tree
Source : flickr.com/Dinesh Valke

The Indian Jujube tree grows as a thorny, multi-branched, evergreen shrub with a maximum height of 15 meters with a trunk diameter of 40 cm.

Indian Jujube trees begin bearing fruit when they are 3-4 years old.

The Jujube Indian has the scientific name Ziziphus mauritiana and it is one of the two species of Ziziphus. The other is Ziziphus jujuba or what is often called Chinese Jujube. The difference between Indian Jujube and Chinese Jujube is their habitat, Indian Jujube grows in tropical areas, while Chinese Jujube grows in cold/subtropical regions.

In India, there are over 90 cultivars of Indian Jujube with a wide variety and variety of tree shapes, leaves, colors, flavors, and fruit qualities. Among the many cultivars in India, eleven of them have been described in the Wealth of India encyclopedia, namely:

  • Ziziphus mauritiana ‘Banarasi Pewandi’
  • Ziziphus mauritiana ‘Dandan’
  • Ziziphus mauritiana ‘Kaithli’
  • Ziziphus mauritiana ‘Patham’
  • Ziziphus mauritiana ‘Muria Mahrara’
  • Ziziphus mauritiana ‘Narikelee’
  • Ziziphus mauritiana ‘Nazuk’
  • Ziziphus mauritiana ‘Sanauri 1’
  • Ziziphus mauritiana ‘Sanauri 5’
  • Ziziphus mauritiana ‘Thornless’
  • Ziziphus mauritiana ‘Umran’

This tree is called Sidr (سدره) in Arabic and is considered a sacred tree in Islam. It is said that when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) made his famous night journey (called Isra and Mi’raj), the angel Gabriel accompanied him to the Sidr tree in heaven.

Indian Jujube or Sidr has a place in the religion of Islam. This tree is mentioned in several chapters in the Qur’an, namely:

  • As a small number of Sidr trees (sidrin qolil) (QS.34. Saba’: 16),
  • As a thornless Sidr tree (sidr makhdud) (QS.56. Al-Waqiah: 28),
  • As the final border Sidr tree (sidratul muntaha) and the covered Sidr tree (sidrata ma yaghsya) (QS.53. An-Najm: 13-16)

Apart from being mentioned in the Qur’an, there are also recommendations for its use in the hadith. It is used in various worship processions, for example, the leaves are sunkissed to be used when bathing is mandatory for women who are just getting holy rather than menstruating. Also when bathing the corpse and removing uncleanness from the body, it is recommended that the body be washed with water mixed with Indian Jujube leaves. Indian Jujube leaves are also sometimes used in the Ruqyah process to treat people who are possessed.

 

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