Konni Thazham (Pathanamthitta): A fruit tree widely seen in the tropical forests of the Western Ghats is now being raised on private lands. The sight of Mooti Maram (Baccourea courtallensis) with bunches of colourful fruit known locally as ‘Mootti Pazham’ is appealing. The tree is found on the farm of an ex-serviceman, K A Thankachan, here.
He had bought some Baccourea fruits from the Konni market 15 years ago and planted the seeds at his farm. After five years, the plant started bearing fruit. The tree flowers in the months of March and April every year while the fruits would be ready by June and July. “This year, it is a bumper harvest,” said Thankachan, who usually distributes the fruit among neighbours and friends.
Mootti Pazham has a striking rose-red colour. The fruit has the size of a gooseberry and is somewhat sour as well as sweet. It is used mainly to make pickles but also tastes good when eaten as such. It grows in clusters from the base of the tree.
Humidity and warm temperature of the hills in the Western Ghats are suitable for the growth of Mooti Maram; hence found in large quantities in the Sabarimala forest regions as well in the forests in Wayanad.
Thankachan's land too benefits from such ambient conditions as Konni Thazham locality is close to the Western Ghats.
Now aged 75, Thankachan turned a full-time farmer 30 years ago after his retirement from the Army Medical Corps. Other fruits in his farm include foreign species like mangosteen, rambutan, filosan and noni and the north Indian litchi.
There is good demand for mangosteen, rambutan, dorian and filosan in the market. In addition, local fruits like mango, jackfruit and guava also are cultivated, the farmer said.
Thankachan’s farm also has nutmeg and various vegetables. Fish is also raised.