Bengal Quince, Wood apple

Location in BHU campus :Planted in hostels ,residences, institutes and gardens .

Botanical name : Aegle marmelos Correa

Family : Rutaceae

Vernacular / local Name : Bengali-Bela,Bilva; Gujarati-Bili; Hindi- Bael, bel ; Malayalam-Koovalam,Vilvam; Marathi-Bael,Bel;Oriya-Belo; Sanskrit- Shriphala, sriphala, sri-vrksa;Tamil-Bilva,vilvam; Telugu-Bilavamu,maredu;

English names : Golden/stone/wood apple, Bengal/Indian quince

Middle sized thorny deciduous tree, with strong, solitary, straight, long spines.Bark pale, corky, bark with shallow furrows, wood yellowish white with a strong aroma.Trifoliate compound, gland dotted leaves with minute rounded teeth in the margins. Leaves begin to shed in March-April, new leaves (pinkish) produced in April-May. Flowers in clusters of 4-7, fragrant, about 3 cm wide, petals 4-5, thick, green on the outside and creamy white inside, bent backwards, gland dotted, numerous spreading stamens, single strong green style in the centre. Fruit woody, large, 12-14 cm in diameter, globose with a hard shell, orange glutinous pulp inside. Yellow when ripe. Fruits remain in the tree up to July before falling. Seeds are numerous and encased in a strong smelling pulp .

Flowering : May-July (great attraction for honey bees)

Fruiting : January –June (ripen)

  • Shloka
  • f=nya f=xq.kkdkja f=us=a p =;k;q/ke~A
    f=T;Ueiky&lagkjesdfcYoa f”
    f=”kk[kSfcZYoi=S”p áfPNn% dkseyS% “kqHkS%A
    f”koiwtka dfj’;kfe ádsfcYoa f”
    v[k.MfcYoi=s.k iwfr;s ufUnds”ojsA
    “kq);fUr loZikisH;ks ádsfcYoa f”
    “kkfyxzkef”kykesdka foizk.kka tkrq viZ;sr~A
    lkse;K&egkiq.;esdfcYoa f”
    nfUrdksfVlglzkf.k oktis;”krkfu pA
    dksfVdU;k&egknkuesdfcYoa f”
    y{E;k% Lrur mRiua egknsoL; p fiz;e~A
    fcYoo`{ka iz;PNkfe ádsfcYoa f”kokiZ.keAA
    n”kZua fcYoo~{kL; Li’kZua ikiuk”kue~AA
    v?kkjikilagkjesdfcYoa f”
    ewyrks czàk:ik; e/;rks fo’.kq:fi.ksA
    vxzr% f”ko:ik; ásdfcYoka f”
    foYok’Vdfena iq.;a ;% iBsfPNolfUu/kkSA
    loZikifofueqZDRk% f”koyksdeokIuq;kr~AA
    bfr fcYok’Vda lEiw.kZe~AA

  • Sacred value
  • Bael finds a mention in the Yajurveda.It has been mentioned in writings dating back to 800 B.C.In Dharma sutras and Saiva Upanishads Shriphala/Sriphala in Sanskrit means the fruit of plenty . As the tree is affiliated with Laksmi it is also called Sri-vrksa -the tree of prosperity and good fortune .Bilva is regarded as “tree of life” in the Brahmana literature. The plant is said to have originated from the palm of Lakshmi . As per Rgveda Bilva-tree, the lord of trees is born out most probably from the heat (tapas) of Prajapati (tapaso dhi jato vanaspatis-tava vrkso tha bilvah).

    As per Skanda purana , Bilva tree is one of the two things that Brahma made for man and earth at the time of creation.

    In Kathasagaritsagara the story narrated is that one day a hunter in Varanasi who had no faith in worship, rituals or visiting temples went out hunting in the forest .He chased a deer deep into the forest, climbed a bael tree and started breaking the leaves to make a soft perch so that he could spend the night comfortably. The leaves that he plucked fell on the Shivalinga below that tree. A drop of sweat also fell. He had not eaten anything the whole day as he was busy hunting. That particular day was the fourteenth day on the dark phase of the moon in the month of Phalguna (mid February to March.) ,a day sacred for Shiva’s worship. The hunter had unknowingly fulfilled all the conditions for the worship of Shiva. The God was so pleased and so, when the hunter died he went to heaven in spite of being a nonbeliever.

    In another legend a hunter climbed a bilva tree to shoot a deer. While waiting for the deer ,he got bored, and started plucking the leaves of the tree and threw them down on the Siva linga installed under the tree.The hunter had a vision of Siva telling him “I make myself visible to you for it is not the way you worship that is important but the worship itself”.It is believed that from that day onwards the tree and its trifoliate leaves became sacred.

    According Garuda Purana, Sundara Sen, the vicious king of Arunda went out hunting and took rest in a bower of bilva tree. There was a Siva linga in the bower. Some bilva leaves fell on the Siva linga as the king was plucking them. The plucking of the leaves made the dust rise and to lay down the dust the king sprinkled water on the tree .Incidently, an arrow fell down from the king’s quiver; while bending to pick it up his chest touched the Siva-linga.Having touched, bathed and worshipped the Siva-linga with the bilva leaves on the night of a fast (vratam) kept on Sivaratri, the king got his vision of Siva.

    In Ramayana, it is said that before the start of the battle between Rama and Ravana, Brahma took Rama to a bilva tree growing on the seashore to invoke Devi on the Krishna navami tithi. He was assured with a voice from heaven that he would be victorious .

    According to Tantric folklore and Banihi Purana Lakshmi came down to the earth in the form of a cow and from the dung of this sacred animal arose the Bilva tree. Lakshmi depicted in the Bhuvaneshwari tantra ,holds Bilva fruit in her lower left ,an image that signifies her as the deliverer of the fruits of one’s action.

    According to a mythical account found in Taittiriya Samhita ,it is stated that the Bilva –tree was born at the very reappearance of yonder sun. A similar type of mythical story is also mentioned in Maitrayani Samhita. The Bilva and Udumbara have been highly placed and eulogized : Maham vai bhadro bilvo bhadra udumbarah Maham abhikta badhate mahatah sadhu khodanam.

    The same verse is also mentioned in the Rgveda as rendered here: Great, indeed, is the good Bilva, great is the good udumbarah, the great one presses on the knees (rendering from abhijnu),a good thing is the amorous sport of the great one.

    In Bilvopanisad and Sivopanisad Lord Shiva is supposed to have a special liking for bilva trees especially for its leaves. No worship of Shiva is possible without the leaves of bilva. According to Bilvopanisad, bilva tree is a form of Shiva, and Shiva becomes very much pleased with single bilva leaf.In the same text the worship of the bilva tree is referred to be at par with the worship of the Lord Siva himself and its trifoliate leaves symbolize the three functions: creation, preservation and destruction of the lord as well as his three eyes.Siva is also called Vilvadanda,one bestowed with staff of bilva tree.

    It is said that presence of a bael and ber tree together in a place indicates an underground spring.

    Tirthankara Sheetalnath’s salvation is associated with Bel tree.

    The Bilva tree, its flowers and fruits are very sacred for Shiva worship .They bilva leaves are offered to Siva on Monday in the month of Sravana.Puranas also mention that he who gives the libations of first fruits in the vessels made of Palasa,Nyagrodha,kasmari,Madhuka,Phalgu,Bilva,Venu,get the benefit of all yajnas .Bilvamangal is a religious festival associated with Aegle marmelos in Garhwal Himalayas and falls in May-June. During the great festival of Durga Puja in September/October, the goddess Durga is invoked to descend to the earth through the newly sprouting ‘Vilva’ tree. The Sanskrit invocation reads “Abhayami Debitang Mrinmaya Sriphala Preete” which underlines her fondness for the ‘Vilva’ fruit,while the twigs and the leaves are used in the performance of Homa i.e. oblation to the Fire God.

    The tree is spared from the axe in view of the sacred status indirectly conserving the species.

    In the traditional culture of Nepal, the bael tree is a part of an important fertility ritual for girls known as Bel baha.

    People go around the bael tree before starting some new venture ,as the tree is supposed to grant success.

    The planting of this tree by the wayside is supposed to give long life. Saivite monks and the elderly devotees tuck the leaves in their tuft of knotted hairs as a mark of regard for the sacred tree. The tree itself is held in great esteem, particularly by women folk who clasp the trunk of the tree and express their desires to be fulfilled. The Gauria snake charmers of central India use the name of Vilva tree with that of Dhanvantry, the celestial physician, in certain magical rites performed to cure snake bites . The leaves/flowers are offered to :- Lord Ganapathi on Shree Sankastha Chaturthi Vrata and Sidhhi Vinayaka Vrata;Shree Satyanarayna on Satyanarayana Vrata; Goddess Lakshmi on Lakshmi Vrata and Margashirsha Shree Lakshmi Vrata (flowers are offered);Gowri on Shree Harathalika Gowri Vrata;Lord Vishnu on Shree Anantapadmanabha Vrata; Lord Samba (the Lord Shiva) on Shree Shanipradosha Vrata (flowers are also offered) and in Nitya Somavara Vrata, Shri Uma Maheshwara vrata ‘Saptarishi vrata -Flowers Nirashanarka Vrata .

    On the Sivaratri, the day the linga is bathed in milk ,decorated and wrapped in the leaves of bilva tree as Sati worshipped Siva with bilva fruit and leaves on this day.

    The people of Kerala never eat bilva fruit as it signifies the head of Siva. The fallen tree of bilva is never used to serve as firewood. It is said that a person who desires wealth is to offer faggots of bilva tree .

    The plant is also associated with the Sun and one of the constellations, Chiti or Chitra . For the persons born under the constellation /star Chiti or Chitra the sacred tree is bael and the deity is Tawasta.

    According to Hindu Shastras, the one who plants among other trees 3 each of kaitha, amla and bel saves himself from being sent to hell.The celebrated Pancavati consists of aswattha planted in the east side, the bilva on the northside, the banyan on the west, the Emblica officinalis on the south and asoka on the south-east. In Skanda Purana, constituents of a Pancavati are a bilva in the centre, and four others on the four sides, four banyans in the four corners, twentyfive asoka in a circle with a myrobalan on one side. Planting Aegle marmelos trees around home or temple is sanctifying, conductive to prosperity`.

  • Uses
  • George Watt (1889) wrote: “No drug has been longer and better known nor more appreciated by the inhabitants of India than bel”. Almost all parts of bilva tree viz the fruits (both ripe and unripe), root bark, leaves, rind of the fruit; flowers are used for medicinal purposes. Pulp is aromatic and cooling and used in the form of soft drink .Marmelosin is the active constituent; it acts as laxative and diuretic and in strong doses a cardiac depressant. Gummy substance around the seeds acts as an adhesive. Also is used as a varnish for pictures and adds brilliancy to water colors paints. Stem yields a gum and leaves are source of an essential oil. The mucous obtained from unripe fruits is used as strong cement either on its own by jewelers or mixed with lime, to form a strong mortar used by masons .The perfumed pulp makes excellent marmalade. The orange like fruit possesses aperients qualities .

    The fruit is used as an Ayurvedic remedy for ailments like diarrhea, dysentery, intestinal parasites, dryness of the eyes, and the common cold. It is a very powerful antidote for chronic constipation.It is considered an excellent treatment for worms, flatulence, acidity and irritable bowel syndrome and is also used to generally keep your appetite and digestion in good condition .The young leaves and small shoots are eaten as salad greens.The leaves of bael are popular in Ayurveda, and Unani medicine. Research also indicates that the bael leaf extract could have a blood sugar lowering effect , similar to insulin and useful in the treatment of diabetes.Bael is one of the 61 sources of oil , from seeds and fruits listed in Charaka in Ayurveda. The oil extracted from bael is used for massaging and in Snehana therapy.The root is an ingredient Dashmoola powder an Ayurvedic formulation used as an anti-inflammatory to treat several disorders. The bael fruit is very high in dietary fiber and some of the vitamins like riboflavin, thiamin, niacin and beta-carotene. It is also an excellent source of minerals and along with amla and date ,one of the richest source of phosphorous, potassium, calcium and magnesium. It is also rich in proteins. Bael tops the list of fruits recommended for survival in a tropical forests .

    The leaves are good fodder and the wood is used in agricultural implements.

    The wood is also used for making charcoal for producer gas plants . The dried fruits freed from pulp are used as pill boxes for keeping medicines, sacred ashes and snuff. Very young fruits are alternated with seeds of Elaeocarpus (Rudraksh) in necklaces. A yellow dye can be obtained from rind of unripe fruit .The twigs are used as tooth brushes or chew sticks .The tree is a larval food plant for two Indian Swallowtail butterflies, the Lime butterfly and the Common Mormon. The leaves are excellent bee forage.The fruits are broken open by monkeys and other animals which eat the pulp and thus the seeds get dispersed.

Trees in Conservation

Trees in Medicine

Trees in Ceremonies

Trees that are worshipped

Trees in Astrology