Garcinia indica
Kokum fruits, seeds, pulp and rinds
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Clusiaceae
Genus: Garcinia
G. indica
Binomial name
Garcinia indica

Garcinia indica, a plant in the mangosteen family (Clusiaceae), commonly known as kokum, is a fruit-bearing tree that has culinary, pharmaceutical, and industrial uses. It grows primarily in India's Western Ghats: in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala.


A kokum tree soon to be ready for harvest

The genus Garcinia, belonging to the family Clusiaceae, includes about 200 species found in the Old World tropics, mostly in Asia and Africa. Garcinia indica is an evergreen, monoecious tree,[2] which can grow up to 18 meters high, on maturity attaining a pyramid shape.

The fruit, an orange-sized purple berry with fleshy endocarp,[3][4] contains five to eight seeds, which account for 20–23% of the fruit's weight. The kernels account for 61 percent of the weight of the seed and about 44% of its oil. The seeds are compressed and embedded in an acidic pulp.


Garcinia indica is indigenous to the tropical forest regions of India. Of the 35 species found in India, 17 are endemic. Of these, seven are endemic to the Western Ghats, six in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and four in the northeastern region of India. The kokum variety from the Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts from the coastal Konkan region of the state of Maharashtra in India has received the GI (Geographical Indication) tag.[5]

Garcinia indica is found in forest lands, riversides and wastelands. These plants prefer evergreen forests, but sometimes they also thrive in areas with relatively low rainfall. It is also cultivated on a small scale. It does not require irrigation, spraying of pesticides or fertilizers.


Culinary uses

The dried skin of kokum fruits

The outer cover of fruit is dried in the sun to get aamsul or kokam.[6] It is used as a souring agent typically in Maharashtra, Assam, Karnataka, Goa, Gujarat. Kokum yields a distinctive flavour and deep-red colour. As a souring agent, it is used as an alternative to tamarind in curries and other dishes from south India.[4] It is also used in cuisine from Gujarat, where it is frequently used to add flavor and tartness to dal (lentil soup) for flavor balance. It is extensively used in Assamese cuisine in many dishes like masor tenga (sour fish curry) and tenga dali (sour dal).

The vessel on the left contains syrup which is obtained from the vessel containing kokum rinds, on the right. The syrup is used to make kokum sherbet.

The fresh fruit is preserved with sugar to make bright-red squash that is diluted with water and bottled for sale as a beverage called Kokum Sarbat.

The extract of the fruit is called aagul in Konkani and Marathi. It is added during the preparation of solkadhi, which may also include coconut milk, coriander and garlic.

Industrial uses

The seed of Garcinia indica contains 23–26% Kokum butter, which remains solid at room temperature. It is used in the preparation of chocolate and sugar confectionery.[7]

Medicinal and cosmetics applications

The oily extract called Kukum butter is used in ointments and suppositories.[4] It has application in skin and hair products, acne products and skin tonics.[8]

The rind of the fruit is a good source of hydroxycitric acid which has been claimed to modify lipid metabolism.[4]

Other uses

The tree is ornamental, with a dense canopy of green leaves and red-tinged, tender, young leaves.



  1. ^ Ved, D.; Saha, D.; Ravikumar, K.; Haridasan, K. (2015). "Garcinia indica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2015: e.T50126592A50131340. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T50126592A50131340.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ "An article in the Resonance Magazine".
  3. ^ Asinelli, M.E.C.; de Souza, M.C.; Mourao, K.S.M. (2011). "Fruit ontogeny of Garcinia gardneriana (Planch. & Triana) Zappi (Clusiaceae)". Acta Botanica Brasilica. 25 (43–52): 43–52. doi:10.1590/S0102-33062011000100007.
  4. ^ a b c d K. V. Peter (Editor); V.K. Raju (author); M. Reni (author) (17 August 2001). Handbook of Herbs and Spices. Elsevier. pp. 207–213. ISBN 978-1-85573-645-0. ((cite book)): |author1= has generic name (help)
  5. ^ "Details | Geographical Indications | Intellectual Property India". Retrieved 2021-01-10.
  6. ^ Ron Herbst; Sharon Tyler Herbst (2015). The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion, 2nd edition. Barron's Educational Series. ISBN 978-1-4380-7621-8.
  7. ^ Kanes K. Rajah (2002). Fats in Food Technology. CRC Press. p. 167. ISBN 978-0-8493-9784-4.
  8. ^ Atha, Mohammad; Nasir, Syed Mahmood (January 2005). "Taxonomic perspective of plant species yielding vegetable oils used in cosmetics and skin care products". African Journal of Biotechnology. 4 (1): 36–44. ISSN 1684-5315.