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Friday, January 27, 2017

Sexy fruits!

I am not talking about any aphrodisiac fruit but only about fruit trees that exhibit varieties of sexual behavior.

Gender galore: While many wild fruit trees (also some cultivated) have male and female flowers in separate trees, some like Papaya are really sexy! Some varieties of Papaya bear male, female, male-female, neither completely male nor completely female flowers either on the same tree or on different trees. 

Occasional sex changers: Some papaya trees even change sex depending on weather conditions. A male tree becomes female and vice versa depending on weather! What is more – if you behead a male papaya tree (males don’t produce useful fruits), chances are that it would become female when new shoots grow from the stump! They say that if there is a lone male papaya tree with no female tree in the vicinity, it automatically becomes female! – But I am not sure about this last one.

Habitual sex changers: There are fruit trees such as Sugar apple (and others in the family) and Avocado, that have the habit of changing sex every now and then! A sugar apple flower which is otherwise bisexual acts like female for few hours and changes into a male the next day! Similar thing happens in Avocado. So if all flowers decide to change to same sex same time, there is no way you can expect any fruits from that tree!

Some need help: Some fruits such as Cherimoya cannot pollinate on their own. They need human intervention – manual pollination.

No to consanguineous unions: It is not just humans; even fruit trees such as some varieties of Apples, Avocado, and so on shun consanguineous unions. To bear fruit, you need at least two different varieties in the same garden, even if trees bear bisexual flowers. Some are even choosier. They need a specific variety for cross pollination!

If you ponder over why all these gimmicks, you probably understand the complete philosophy behind union and procreation.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fruit first or flower first?

No, it is not yet another chicken and egg paradox. Normally a flower appears first and then the flower turns into a fruit. But not so in fig and other fig relatives. Many Indian folklores tell you that no one can ever see flowers of a fig tree suggesting that it is actually a miracle tree – bearing fruits without flowers!

Actually, fig trees do put off flowers, but inside the fruit! What you call as fig is actually not a fruit but only a receptacle that encloses the flowers inside.
This receptacle has a one-way (?) hole at the bottom that allows pollinating insects to enter in. They enter, pollinate the flowers and even lay eggs inside. 
But unfortunately they may get trapped inside since they cannot come out! They finally die and get absorbed in the fruit itself (vegetarians among you may find it a bit nauseating – but don’t worry it is too small to notice!). 

In due course, the eggs laid by the insect hatch and the worms come out. That is why you sometimes see worms inside figs and other related fruits. But not all fig flowers get pollinated and so the tiny seeds that are formed will normally be hollow shells.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Read me in your language

Many of my blog readers are from non English speaking countries. For their benefit I have now introduced a 'select language' button at the top of my blog. You can use this to read my blog in the language of your choice (including many Indian languages). Though not perfect, this may be useful to many.

For example:

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fruit wonders

In previous posts we discussed varieties of issues. For another couple of posts I will write some interesting facts about fruits. I just love fruits and more than eating them, I am fascinated by fruit marvels!.

Fruit that is not a fruit!

I am not posing a riddle. Some of you who are fruit savvy might have guessed. Yes, I am talking about cashew. Did you know that cashew is not actually a fruit? What we call as cashew nut is the actual fruit and the so called cashew apple is just the stem of the fruit that becomes plump and juicy!

Cashew is supposedly from South America spread by Portuguese to other parts of the world especially to India where today it supports a big industry – cashew nut industry. But it is called ‘Kaaju’ in many Indian languages as it is in Portuguese. I wonder whether Portuguese brought it to India or took it from India! There are at least two other related species wild in India, that are also recognized as cashew in some of the local Indian languages.

What is interesting is that originally the trees were planted neither for fruits nor the nuts but to prevent soil erosion on the coasts. In some South American countries the nuts were just thrown away and only the cashew apples were eaten or fermented to make wine. It was probably the Indians who found the ingenious technique to peel off the husk - that oozes corrosive juice - to take out the tasty and prized nuts. And today cashew nut industry is a major industry in India. Unfortunately, in contrast to their South American counterparts, the cashew apples are mostly discarded in India! Of course, in coastal Indian state of Goa they make a popular wine called Feni from these apples.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Year gift to my readers

All copies of this book have been sold out and are no longer available from amazon (American edition is still available though). You may still write to me using the contact form and I will let you know when the copies are available.


Indian edition of my book “How and why of Yoga and Meditation” in paperback is now available through Amazon for an incredibly low price of Rs. 150 (less than US$ 3 – yes, you read it right!). US edition of the same book costs more than Rs.760 (US$ 8 to 11). This is a new year gift price and there is limited stock.
While the US edition is grey colored, this Indian edition is fully colored (except for some images) and identical in content otherwise. If you are in India or have friends in India, you can procure it from by clicking the link below.
For buying (use the cart against "Dr.King's Books")  click
For preview (not for purchase, use the above link for purchase) click

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Best wishes for the New Year!