BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO
There are many fruits in the Philippines that are known for their distinct shape, color, or smell. Among these is the Java apple (Syzygium samarangense), locally known as makopa. Even Filipino riddles or bugtong note the characteristics of the fruit, which are its bell or pear-like shape and bright red color.
Makopa is native to Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Thailand. The fruit comes from a tropical tree that can grow up to 12 meters tall. Makopa fruits also come in different colors such as white, green, purple, and even black.
When eaten, makopa tastes similar to an apple but, with softer flesh.
Requirements in growing makopa
Usually, makopa trees can thrive even in poor soil and aren’t high maintenance. Yet the ideal soil to grow the trees in ranges from mildly acidic to mildly alkaline and sandy to clayey. The soil should also be kept moist most of the time to avoid water stress and to promote growth in the trees.
As for the temperature, makopa trees grow in areas with a temperature range of 25 to 32 degrees Celsius.
Makopa trees need an abundant water supply throughout their growth period. but sudden watering can cause water stress. The best approach is to practice irrigation methods to help the soil maintain the constant level of moisture that the trees need.
To promote healthy growth in makopa trees, weeding is also required. The trees can also be pruned as it grows older to maximize its fruit-bearing potential.
Common pests diseases in makopa trees
Makopa trees don’t always get attacked by pests and diseases, but root rot is the common problem that farmers have to face when growing these trees.
If the disease is caught early, farmers can trim off the affected roots to save the rest of the tree. But if the disease has spread significantly, the best course of action is to remove the infected tree from the area to prevent other trees nearby from catching root rot.
Pests include aphids, ants, and mealy bugs. These can be easily removed from the leaves using a solution made from dishwashing soap and water.
Health benefits of makopa
Apart from being a tasty, healthy snack that’s used in candies, jams, and other products, makopa fruits have a wide range of health benefits to its consumers.
In Philippine traditional medicine, makopa is considered a remedy to diabetes. Other benefits of the fruit to human health include easing constipation, promoting heart health, boosting the immune system, lowering cholesterol, and more.
Before, makopa trees could be found almost anywhere in the Philippines, even in the middle of cities. These were a favorite among earlier generations. But the rise of urbanization has resulted in the gradual decline in the number of trees and the demand for fruit.
Now, it is only in provinces or select areas in the city where can people catch a glimpse of the bell-shaped fruit in abundance. Luckily, that can be changed through urban gardening where people can not only enjoy growing their food, but can also preserve and promote native species like makopa.