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Kalimantan Mango, Kasturi (Mangifera casturi)

Kalimantan Mango (Mangifera casturi) or locally known as Kasturi is a tropical fruit tree about 10–30 m tall which is endemic to very small area around Banjarmasin in Southern Borneo (Indonesia). Nowadays it is extinct in the wild due to illegal logging. However, it is still often cultivated in this area due to its delicious fruits.

The fruits size of the Kalimantan Mango (Mangifera casturi) is relatively small compared to other species of mangoes. It weighs around 50 to 84 grams each. When not ripe yet, the colour of the fruit is green – when ripe however, the colour changes to brown or purple-black and has a shiny surface, often with a shade of purple. The colour pattern is also one of the determinations of the variants of M. casturi. There are 3 recorded varieties of Mangifera casturi – Kasturi, Mangga Cuban and Pelipisan. The most popular is the Kasturi because of its fragrance. The Mangga Cuban and Pelipisan are often regarded as a separate species. The Pelipisan could however be found with a sweet fragrance like the Kasturi which indicates that the fruit is most likely a hybrid of the Kasturi. Much research still has to be done to define and set the status.

The flesh of this fruit is orange in colour and the texture stringy with a unique sweet fragrance. If we compare the Kasturi with the Mango (Mangifera indica), the Kasturi tastes less sweet but has a stronger taste and has a softer aroma. The flesh of the Kasturi fruit flesh is high in fibre

The Kasturi is very popular amongst the South Borneo people as well as in the neighbouring region. The fragrance of the fruits is so pleasant that there is an old song around this: “Seharum kasturi, seindah pelangi, semuanya bermula.” which means: “Oh, as fragrance as Kasturi, as beautiful as the rainbows. This love begins its journey.”

Illegal logging activities caused extinction of this tree in the wild. Old Kalimantan Mango trees are in danger of extinction by logging because of its wood quantity. Trees are often cultivated on a small scale by local people in their backyard gardens or on small farms.

Unlike the fast growing tropical fruit trees, the Kalimantan Mango is not planted in large plantations in Indonesia due to its slow growing process. Kalimantan Mango plantations could only be found in the Mataraman area in the Banjar district (the Banjar district is not the same as the Banjarmasin district). The people of Mataraman tried to plant a small-scale cultivation in 1980 and the first harvest was in 2005. Although the fruit is locally found abundantly, it still does not satisfy the demand.

The uses of Kalimantan Mango trees are limited to the fruit and wood. Although old trees could have trunks exceeding 1 meter, the Banjar people (an interior and coastal native ethnic group who settled in Southern Borneo), tend to use the fruits only due to the tree’s long growing period. For this reason, the Banjar people choose other trees as their wood source with a similar or higher quality of wood. To get to the fruit, is not very easy as the Kasturi trees grow very tall and one has to climb very high to get to it – the fruit falling to the ground are of much lower quality.

The fruits could be eaten fresh or processed as Kasturi jams. This is however rarely on sale on the markets, as farmers consumes this themselves. Other products made with mangoes are puree, jams, juice or dodol (traditional cookies). These products are however quite hard to find as the fresh fruit are always high in demand and one of the favourite fruits of the Banjar people. The fruits are also quite expensive but to the Banjar people it is worth their money because of the wonderful taste!

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Thursday 20th August 2009 22:48 | print | Exotic plants, Tropical fruits

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