23 Rubus niveus Thunb.
Synonymy: Rubus gracilis Roxb., Rubus lasiocarpus Hook., Rubus albexens Roxb., Rubus mysorensis Heyne.
Indian names: huftoo, kale hinure (Himachal Pradesh); kala hinsalu, kali anchhi (Hindi); kandiari, kharmuch, surganch, oche (Kashmir); kalawar, kalahisalu (Kumaon); kalo aselu (Nepal); gunacha, kandiara (Punjab).
Rubus niveus Thunb. is also one of the tastiest wild fruits. It resembles the raspberry of Europe. It grows wild throughout the temperate Himalayan region. Besides India, it grows in central and western China, the Philippines Islands, especially in Luzon. The black fruits are consumed by all.
This species is also said to have been successfully introduced into the kitchen-gardens as well as into the commercial orchards of southern Florida under the name Mysore raspberry.
In Himachal Pradesh, it is found growing in the hills above 1,650 metres. The plants can be seen in large numbers in the forests around the Tara Devi and Sanjoli areas of Simla.
This plant is different from Rubus ellipticus Smith in many respects. Rubus niveus Thunb. grows in the cooler areas, whereas, Rubus ellipticus Smith prefers a slightly warmer climate. Rubus niveus Thunb. has black or dark-purple fruits.
A tall, sub-erect, prickly bush having short lived stems; deciduous but remains leafless for a very short duration; stems and branches, glabrous with small spines on them; an average-sized bush, possessing 4 to 6 canes, 1.6 metres high and spread over 1.8 square metres, stem and branches light red, with a tinge of brown; spines, nearly straight on steins, curved on the rachis; internodes, 3.1 cm long, bearing 2 to 4 spines.
Leaves, trifoliate; lateral leaflets, lanceolate or ovate, 2.9 cm long, 1.7 cm broad; terminal leaflets, lanceolate, oblong or ovate, 4.9 cm long, 1.9 cm broad; margins, serrate; rachis of compound leaves, spinous; a cluster of leaves emerges from each node.
Flowers, pedicellate, ebracteate, complete, cyclic, actinomorphic, hermaphrodite, hypogynous; diameter, 9.3 mm; inflorescence, a corymbose panicle, having about 15 flowers each; calyx lobes, tomentose, gamosepalous, with 5 sepals, green, actinomorphic, pointed at the apex, 7-8 mm long and 3-4 mm broad; corolla, polypetalous, with 5 petals, actinomorphic, regular, inferior, spectrum violet 735/3, 3 to 4 mm long, 3 mm broad, having valvate aestivation; androecium, polyandrous, having numerous stamens arranged in a circle, dorsifixed, bithecus, inferior, 3 to 4 mm long, having a unilocular superior ovary.
Fruits, aggregate, etaerio of drupes, deep pink to nearly black at maturity; weight, 487 mg; volume, 598.3 microlitres; borne on a nipple shaped thalamus which is 5 to 6 mm long and 6 to 7 mm in diameter; ripr fruits very easily detachable from the thalamus.
Seeds, numerous, 180 per fruit, very small; diameter, 1 to 1.5 mm; weight of 100 seeds, 250 mg; volume of 100 seeds, 140 microlitres.
The flowering and fruiting season
The flowering season was observed to continue from the first week of April to the end of May up to elevations of 2,000 metres. The flowering was, however, at its peak during the middle of May.
The fruits start ripening from the middle of June and continue to do so up to the end of July. The ripe fruits fall off soon after attaining full maturity and have to be harvested immediately.
The average yield of a bush covering 2.5 square metres is 657 g.
Chemical composition of the fruit
These fruits contain 58.5 per cent extractable juice, which is sparkling purple. The moisture content of the fruit is 83.1 percent. The fruit juice contains 11.30 per cent total soluble solids, 2.01 per cent acidity, 7.81 per cent total sugars (mostly as reducing sugars), and 3.79 mg of vitamin C per 100 ml of juice.
Further chemical analysis of the fruit revealed that it contains 0.769 per cent minerals, represented by its ash. The protein content of the fruit is 1.35 per cent. The other mineral elements, viz. phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron are 0.04, 0.237, 0.058, 0.068 and 0.007 per cent respectively.
The fruits are sweet with a fine blend of acid. They have an excellent dessert quality. They are perishable and cannot be kept under room temperature for more than 24 hours.
The fruits of Rubus niveus Thunb. are excellent in taste and flavour and are, therefore, very much liked by all. They yield a good percentage of juice which is very attractive in colour and rich in flavour. Work should be initiated for the utilization of this fruit through preservation. This fruit should also make a very good jam and efforts should also be made in this direction.
There are a few drawbacks in this fruit. The keeping quality is very poor and the damage due to birds is also considerable. A lot of labour is involved in the picking of fruits. But considering the overall fruit quality and no cost of cultivation, these disadvantages can be overlooked. This fruit should be popularized and various horticultural practices for its cultivation should be standardized.
It is really unfortunate that we have not been able to pay any attention to this excellent wild fruit, though it has been introduced into the U.S.A. and has been domesticated there.