Kaith tree (Feronia limonia) is found throughout India. Its unripe fruit has astringent, sour taste and eaten with salt. The chutney of ripe fruit is made with salt, tamarind, spices and oil. Kaitha fruit contains carbohydrates and proteins. It is also rich in beta carotene, vitamin B, vitamin C, thiamin and riboflavin. The tree is often cultivated on borders of fields and as a roadside tree near villages and sometimes planted in gardens.
Kaitha is a medicinal tree and known as Kapittha in Ayurveda. Its leaves, ripe and unripe fruits, bark, gum resin are used for medicinal purpose. The unripe fruit is used as a remedy to treat diarrhea and dysentery. The ripe fruit is used in treatment of hiccups and throat problems. The leaves have aroma and cures flatulence.
The ripe fruit has antiscorbutic activity which means it prevents or cures scurvy. Scurvy is a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, and characterized by swollen bleeding gums and the opening of previously healed wounds. It is carminative and gives relief in flatulence. It stimulates the digestive system.
The unripe fruit is prescribed in sprue, malabsorption syndrome. The leaves are astringent in action and cause the contraction of skin cells and tissues. The leaves are used for indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea, dysentery and hemorrhoids. The juice of tender leaves is given in treatment of stones, and digestive disorders. The leaves are useful in gas, indigestion, sprue, diarrhea and diabetes.
Kapittha, is a deciduous, glabrous tree. It has strong, sharp, straight, axillary thorns. In India, it is found throughout the plains of India, Siwalik range and forests, at base of Himalayas up to an elevation of 450 m. It is also cultivated in many parts of India.
In Ayurveda, the dried fruit rind, bark, gum, and leaves are used for medicinal purpose. The fruit rind is removed and the pulp is bruised and dried to get the dried powder of pulp.
The botanical name of Kaith is Feronia limonia. It belongs to plant family Rutaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass: Rosidae
- Order: Sapindales
- Family: Rutaceae – Rue family
- Genus: Limonia L. – limonia
- Species: Limonia acidissima L. – Indian woodapple
- Feronia elephantum Correa
- Limoniu acidissima
- Limonia elephantum
- Schinus limonia
Moderate sized tree, 10-15 m tall;branchlets with straight, sharp spines, 1.5-4 cm long;Leaves alternate, imparipinnate, petiole and rachis winged, leaflets 3-9, obovate, cuneate, apex crenulate. Flowers small, numerous, greenish or dull red, in lateral or terminal lax panicles;
Fruit round to oval, 5-12.5 cm wide, with a woody, amazingly hard rind which can be difficult to crack, greyish-white, scurfy rind about 6 mm thick, pulp brown, mealy, odorous, resinous, astringent, acid or sweetish, with numerous small, white seeds scattered through it. There are two forms, one with large, sweet fruits and the other with small, acid fruits.
Part(s) used for medicinal purpose:Fruits, gum, leaves, bark and pulp
Plant type: tree
Origin: India, Pakistan, Srilanka and Southeast Asia east to Java.
Habitat: Indigenous to South India;cultivated throughout the plains of India up to 500m in the western Himalaya.
Distribution: Dry area;throughout India;also cultivated in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Srilanka.
- Ayurvedic: Kapittha, Dadhittha, Dadhiphala, Surabhichhada, Dantshatha, Kapipriya कपित्थ, कैथ पुष्पफल, कपिप्रिय, दन्तशठ
- Unani: Kuvet
- Siddha: Vilamaram, Vilangai, Narivila, Vizha, Vila, Kadippakai, Kapiththam, Wlavu
- English: Wood Apple, Elephant apple, Curd fruit, Monkey fruit
- Sanskrit: Danta Satha, Kapipriya
- Bengali: Kayet Bael, Kavataleal, Kavita
- English: Wood apple
- Gujrati: Kotha, Kondhu
- Hindi: Kaitha कैथ, कैथा
- Kannada: Bekalu, Belada hannu, Bilvara, Belalu, Balada, Haminamara
- Malayalam: Vilar maram, Villanga Kaaya
- Marathi: Kavatha
- Punjabi: Kainth
- Tamil: Vilamaram, Vilangai
- Telugu: Velaga
- Folk: Kaith
- Lao (Sino-Tibetan): Ma-fit
- Malay: Belinggai, Gelinggai
- Thai: Ma-khwit
Fruit pulp: 25-50 grams;
Dried pulp of mature fruit: 1-3 grams
Leaf paste:3-6 grams;
Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Kaitha
Rasa (taste on tongue): Kashaya (Astringent), Madhura (Sweet), Amla (Sour);Unripe Pulp: Amla (Sour), Kashaya (Astringent)
Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Unripe Pulp: Guru (Heavy)
Virya: Sita (Cooling);Unripe Pulp: Ushna (Hot)
Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Madhura (Sweet);Unripe Pulp: Amla (Sour)
- Grahi ग्राही inspissants/thickening agent (medicines which from their stomachic, digestive and heating qualities dry the fluids of the body).
- Lekhana लेखन remove bad humours and altered constituents of the body by thinning them gradually and thus clearing the system of them.
- Anulomna अनुलोमना (anulomna means one which promote excretions and favour discharge)
- Improves appetite, Vishaghna
- Suvai (Taste): Inippu (Sweet)
- Veeriyam (Potency): Thatpam (Cooling)
- Vipakam (Transformation): Kaarppu (Pungent)
- Ceikai (Pharmacological action): Manamooti (Aromatic) and Kuzhirchiyundakki (Refrigerant)
- Gunam (Uses): Used in Pitha diseases
- Siddha Pharmaceutical Preparations:- Kantha chenduram
- Aromatic and cooling.
- Useful in vitiated conditions of pitta, biliousness and liver diseases.
- Demulcent and constipating.
- Used in diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids and diabetes.
- Dried gum powder mixed with honey is given in dysentery and diarrhea.
Unripe Kaitha Fruit
- Aromatic, astringent, constipating, and binding, diuretic.
- Cures itching of the body.
- Increases vata, pita, and kapha.
- Tonic to the liver and the lungs.
- Strengthens the gums.
- Antidote against poison or infection.
- Useful in diarrhea and dysentery, pruritus, whooping cough and pain in the pharynx.
- Used as substitute for Bilva in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery.
Ripe Kaitha Fruits
Sour, sweet, acrid, difficult to digest, aphrodisiac, cooling.
Useful in cough, throat, asthma, diarrhea, dysentery, heart diseases, vomiting, biliousness, vata-vikar, tridosah, blood impurities, fatigue, thirst, consumption, tumors, opthalmia, and leucorrhoea.
Beneficial in scurvy and sore throat.
Nutritional analysis of dried pulp of Kaitha fruit
Kaitha fruit is rich in carbohydrates. It is also good source of protein and dietary fiber. It is low in fat and contains many vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. The dried pulp contains 15% of citric acid.
The pulp contains high amount of alkaloids and moderate amount of Saponins. Alkaloids have spasmolytic (gives relief in spasm) and anesthetic (gives relief in pain) agents while saponins help in boosting the immunity system, lowering cholesterol levels in the blood and reducing the risk of getting intestinal cancer.
Constituents Dried pulp (%)
Mineral and Vitamins content of Kaitha pulp (µg/ g)
Concentration (µg/ g)
Vitamins (µg/ g)
Health benefits of Kaitha fruit
- Kaith is cooling in nature. It quenches excess thirst and gives relief in bleeding disorders.
- It is binding and constipating due to which it is helpful in loose motion.
- It is good source of carbohydrate and protein.
- It is rich source of vitamin C and cures vitamin C deficiency.
- It lowers cholesterol level and blood sugar level.
- It can be used as home remedy to cure various diseases that occur in summer season due to its astringent, constipating, and binding, diuretic properties.
Medicinal Uses of Kaitha
All parts of Kaitha tree are used for the treatment of various ailments.
The mixture of young leaves juice, milk and candy is given as a remedy for biliousness and intestinal troubles of children. Leaves, barks, roots and fruit pulp are all used against snakebite. The bark is applied on venomous wounds. The oil derived from the crushed leaves is applied on itch and the leaf decoction is given to children as an aid to digestion. The bark and leaves are used for vitiated conditions of vata and pitta. Bark paste is applied on skin to keep it cool, smooth, and fair. The fruit has cooling, anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic, hepatoprotective, antipyretic and analgesic activities.
Kaith fruits are astringent, tonic to the heart, liver and the lungs, binding, diuretic and good for throat. They are beneficial in scurvy and sore throat. The ripe fruit is used in treatment of excess thirst, hiccups. The unripe fruit is used in treatment of Grahani and digestive weakness.
Dysentery, diarrhea, piles
In diarrhea, 3-6 grams of powder of dried tender leaves is given twice a day.
The mashed fruit pulp is used as home remedy.
Diseases of ear, Pain in ear
3-4 drops of lukewarm juice of the fruits is used as ear drops twice a day.
Malabsorption syndrome, Kidney stone
The juice of leaves is taken in dose of 7-14 ml.
The leaves juice is given.
Diseases of eyes
The powder of leaves and flowers talk is mixed with and applied in eyes.
Fifty gram pulp of the ripe fruit is mixed in Butter milk and taken once daily, for 3 days.
10 g of ripe fruit is given once a day for 1 month.
Insect bites and stings
The pulp is applied externally.
- Evaluation of nutritional, phytochemical, antioxidant and antibacterial activity of exotic fruit Limonia acidissima Shipra Pandey, Gouri Satpathy, Rajinder K. Gupta
- S.G.S.P.S.Institute of Pharmacy, Hingna Road, Kaulkhed;Feronia Limonia – A Path Less Travelled Qureshi Absar A., Kumar K. Eswar2, Omer Shaista;
- Khare CP. Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary, Springer Science.
- Vidhya R, Narain A. Development of Preserved Products Using Under Exploited Fruit Wood Apple (Limonia Acidissima). American Journal of Food Technology 2011.
- Rathayake RMRNK, Sumithra HJ, Fernando MD, Keerthi B, Palipane. Effect of GRAS compounds onAspergillus rot of wood–apple (Feronia Limonia). Pytoparasit 2009;
- The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India.
- Ahamed SM, Swamy SK, Jayaverra KN, Rao JV, Kumar VS. Anti-inflammatory antipyretic and analgesic activity of methanolic extract of feronia limonia fruit pulp. Pharmacologyonline 2008.