Kachampuli, a species of Garcinia, is a sub-tropical species native to Indonesia. It is quite common in homesteads in Coorg and the moist deciduous forest areas of Kerala. This species prefers open conditions, and is also seen on some plantations in Coorg.
The tree attains a height of 25 metres on an average, with a dense, rounded or pyramidal evergreen crown. Its branching is usually horizontal or drooping with thick, glossy, dark green leaves. Interestingly, the male and female trees are separate.
The flowering commences in January and the tree bears fruits in June/July. The fruit is a berry that is light yellow in colour. Each fruit contains 6 to 8 ovoid pale brown seeds which are covered with white sweet or sourish shiny aril. The tree is mainly grown for its fruit. Its grey close-textured wood is not durable. The raw and processed rind of the fruit is extensively used as a condiment, coagulant and for polishing gold and silver articles.
The bark of this tree yields a gum which is used as a pigment, medicine and varnish. The seed is an edible source of fat. The tree does not have any pest or disease and is a characteristic trait of the family. The fruit is used in Indian traditional medicine for edema, delayed menstruation, constipation and other intestinal disorders. Garcinia Indica (Kokum) and Mangosteen are other species of the same family. The syrup prepared from the fruit is called Kachampuli in Coorg and is mainly used as a condiment in the preparation of the signature “Pandi curry”. It is said that the Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) present in the fruit has a role to play in weight reduction.