Family: Rosaceae

Synonym: Cotoneaster rupestris,  Cotoneaster emarginatus  Mespilus microphylla , Cotoneaster elatus,   Cotoneaster microphyllus.

Common Name: Littleleaf, Cotoneaster, Small-leaved cotoneaster

Local Name:Khilgu (खिलगु)                                                                      

 Khilgu is much branched evergreen shrub that can be seen growing on slopes in montane pastures and waysides upto an altitude of 2000 to 3000 m in Western Himalaya.

 Khilgu growing wild.

It is often found trailing on rocks or spreading on grassy hillsides & slopes, mountain areas, thickets and river valley etc. Sometime people grow this plant as an ornamental plant due to its beautiful evergreen prostrate foliage. Khilgu easily propagate through seeds and can grow in variety of habitat, but it succeeds best in well drained sunny habitat.

Khilgu fully ripe fruits are edible. Ripe fruits are eaten raw and can be used as a food supplement  in various food preparation like desserts, fruit salad or sprouts salad & fruit rayata etc.

Khilgu is harvested from wild for local use as a source of fuel, food, medicine, dye & material for local personal use. Sometime it is traditionally grown as live fence or ornamental shrub in garden or private land in many parts of Western Himalayas, where it marks land boundaries and also helps to exclude livestock & stray animals. Khilgu extensive root system helps to prevent soil erosion. 

Khilgu Plant:

Small, much branched, evergreen, prostate shrubs.

Leaves 5- 8 to 3-5 mm, obovate- elliptic, apex rounded or emarginated, nearly obtuse, dark green and glossy obove, pubescent or tomentose beneath, margins recurved.

Flowers white, ca 1 cm across, usually solitary, sometimes in pairs.

Fruits globose or obovoid, scarlet when ripe, 5-7 mm; nutlets 2.

Close-up of  Kkilgu fruit & leaves

Khilgu can best provide edible fruits from rainy to autumn season of the year. Rotation of habitat & keeping some fruits on parent plant is necessary for ensuring sustainable development.

Edible Uses:

Khilgu fruits desserts:

Ingredients:

Khilgu fully ripe fruits and other chopped fruits (Banana, apple, wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca & Duchesnea indica), Wild Karanda (Carissa spinarum),Governor’s Plum (Flacourtia sapida,), Ceylon Raspberry (Rubus niveus), Indian Barberry (Berberis lycium), Wild Date Plum (Phoenix sylvestris) etc. acc. to taste, 1/2kg; curd, 1kg; sweetener like honey/ sugar/ condensed milk, 1-3 tea spoon; cardamom powder,1/4 tea spoon; black salt according to taste.

Method:

Take curd in a bowl. Add to it sweetener according to choice and stir well. Add cardamom powder, black salt, khilgu fruits and other chopped fruits according to preference. Mix well and serve.

Salad:

Ingredients:

Khilgu fully ripe fruits and other chopped fruits (Banana, mango, apple, wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca & Duchesnea indica) Wild Karanda (Carissa spinarum)Governor’s Plum (Flacourtia sapida,), Ceylon Raspberry (Rubus niveus), Indian Barberry (Berberis lycium) Wild Date Plum (Phoenix sylvestris) etc. acc.  to taste, 4 cup amount;honey, 2 table spoons; freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 table spoon, zest, 1 lemon; mint leaves,10-15, black salt, ¼ tea spoon,

Method:

Take a small mixing bowl and whisk together honey, orange juice, and lemon zest. Add fruit to a large bowl and pour over dressing, tossing gently to combine. Garnish with mint leaves. Chill one hour before serving.

Sprouts fruit salad:

Ingredients:

Green moong daal sprouts, 1 cup amount; Kala Chana (Black Chickpeas) sprouts. 1 cup amount,  khilgu fully ripe fruits, 1 cup amount; freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 table spoon, mint leaves,10-15, black salt, ¼ tea spoon, chaat masala, 1 tea spoon.

Method:

Add khilgu fruits with sprouts in a big bowl. Add orange juice, salt, chaat masala and mix well. Garnish with chopped mint leaves and serve.

Seek professional advice before treating this plant medicinally.

Medicinal Uses:

 Local people use stem & roots of this plant as a toothbrush for cleaning teeth. Pounded roots boiled along with mustard oil applied on affected part to cure itching and various skin problems 1. Fruits are used as an astringent 2,3,4. The stolons are said to be astringent 5. Fruits are used for irregular menstruation and in disease of bile malfunctioning 6.  Fruits are made into paste and mixed with brassica oil and applied on skin against irritation 7.

Chemical constituents:

Active constituents of the plant are sorbitol and a cyanogenic glucoside, prulaurasin (leaves) and sorbitol and hydrocyanic acid (young leaves).

Other Uses:

Locally dried plant is used as a fuel, some people grow it as a garden plant around boundaries of their front yard and as a live fence around private land. This will be helpful to demarcate boundaries and protect cultivated land from livestock and stray animals. Extensive deep root system of this plant is helpful in soil erosion prevention.

A rose-tan dye is obtained from the fruit 9. The leaves are used for incense (incence is aromatic biotic material which release smoke when burned) 9. The branches are used for making baskets 9.

References:

  1. Sood SK, Thakur S. (2004): Ethnobotany of Rewalsar Himalaya. Deep Publications.
  2. Radha, B., Singh, R. D., Tiwari, J. K., Tiwari, P., & Gairola, A. (2013). Wild edible plant resources of the Lohba range of Kedarnath forest division (KFD), Garhwal Himalaya, India. Int. Res. J. Biol. Sci, 2(11), 65-73.
  3. Gupta, R. (1962). Some unusual and interesting food plants of the Garhwal Himalayas. Journal d’agriculture traditionnelle et de botanique appliquée, 9(11), 532-535.
  4. Rawat, G. S., & Pangtey, Y. P. S. (1987). A contribution to the ethnobotany of Alpine regions of Kumaon. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany, 11(1), 139-148.
  5. Chopra, R. N., Nayar, S. L., & Chopra, I. C. (1956). Glossary of Indian medicinal plants (Vol. 1, pp. 138-139). New Delhi: Council of Scientific & Industrial Research. 240
  6. https://www.99roots.com/en/plants/cotoneaster-cochleatus-p36852
  7. www.findplants.co.uk/plantcotoneaster-glacialis
  8. Anonymous, (1950); The wealth of India- Raw Materials. CSIR, New Delhi.
  9. Manandhar. N. P. (2002); Plants and People of Nepal. Publication; Timber Press. Oregon.ISBN; 0-88192-527-6 272

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