11 April 2017

Kalumpit, a Fruit Named after Batangas, Has Many Medicinal Properties

The kalumpit fruit.  Image credit:  Tagalog Lang.
The kalumpit fruit.  Image credit:  Tagalog Lang.

As a young boy back in the sixties, I always looked forward to foodstuffs that my uncle brought back as presents from his weekends in Nasugbu. Among these were buradol or flying fish daeng (fish halved and dried) or himbabao strings, the latter best stewed with fish paste. These were seldom, if at all, available in Lipa City.

But what I really loved most of all was the kalumpit, a small, sweet and flavorsome dark purple fruit that I could eat all day long. Sometimes, my uncle brought back kalumpit jam homemade by my aunt or my grandmother.

It looked somewhat like a smaller version of the duhat or the Java plum but much sweeter. Few, if at all, of my contemporaries in Lipa knew of the kalumpit, so it was probably something that grew in western Batangas.

Not very well known as it is elsewhere even in Batangas, the kalumpit has nonetheless found its way to Merriam-Webster, which defines it as “a common Philippine tree that yields a soft wood and dark red fleshy fruits used for preserves.1

The fruit’s scientific names are terminali edulis or terminalis microcarpa. In English, the fruit is sometimes referred to alternatively as the Batangas cherry2.

Other sites say that the kalumpit is a Philippine tree that grows up to a height of 24 meters and is commonly found in low altitude forests from northern Luzon to Mindanao3. This probably explains why the fruit was unknown in Lipa, which is roughly a thousand feet above sea level.

Suffice it to say that the tree which bears the fruit probably once grew widespread in the coastal areas of Batangas or those close to sea level. Enough, at any rate, for the fruit to be named after the province.

However, the kalumpit has also been reported in the Indonesian island of Java and is known in Indonesia as the dalumpit or kelumpit. In Australia, the kalumpit tree is called the bandicoot or the sovereign wood.

The kalumpit fruit, while excellent eaten as is, can be preserved as jam and is even fermented into wine by entrepreneurs4. Others use it to sweeten or flavor lambanog, a Philippine coconut liquor. Moreover, it has been found to be effective used as a treatment for eczema and other skin diseases5.

The kalumpit has also been the subject of anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-microbial research, with promising findings. It has been found to possess significant analgesic (pain-relieving) and antipyretic (fever reducing) properties. Its extracts have been the subject of research to discover bronchodilatory (for easing the inflow of air into the lungs6), antispasmodic (suppression of muscle spasms7) and antinociceptive (blocking the detection of painful or injurious stimulus8) properties, with mostly positive results.

The kalumpit or the Batangas cherry, therefore, is not only a flavorful fruit but extremely beneficial to one’s health.

Notes and references:
1 “Kalumpit,” online at Merriam-Webster.
2 “Kalumpit,” online at Philippine Medicinal Plants.
3 “Kalumpit,” online at Dr. Farrah Cancer Center.
4 “Kalumpit,” online at Rain Forest Restoration Initiative at Wordpress.
5 “Calumpang Tree (Wild Almond) and Kalumpit Fruit,” online at Healing Galing.
6 “Bronchodilators,” Wikipedia.
7 “Antispasmodic,” Wikipedia.
8 “Antinociception,” online at Merriam-Webster.

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