Family: Rutaceae

Common Name: Rough Lemon

Local Names: Jhamirdi (झमीरडी), jambiri, jambheri,  jatti khatti, khatti.

Jhamirdi is a medium to large, spreading tree of Western Himalaya found growing wild along the roadways, pathways, margins of fields, hill slopes and other sunny habitat. It is found upto an altitude of 1200 m in Western Himalayas. Its plant has good adaptability for light sandy soils and can also fairly tolerate salts. Jhamirdi is native of India. 

Jhamirdi growing wild in margin of field

 Jhamirdi  ripe fruits are edible both raw or cooked and are  used as a cheap substitute of lemon or galgal for pickles, chutneys  garnishing, flavouring etc. Fruits are of very acid taste and fruit juice can be  used as a  refreshing drink in summers. Its juice however, does not match with lemon juice in flavour and is sharply acidic.  Ayurvedic physicians discourage people to use fresh or raw rough lemon juice.  They only approve juice concentrated by heating 1. Fruits are also used in salad dressings, where it acts as an antioxidant and impart an acid flavour. Jhamirdi flowers are cooked as Kachru.

jhamirdi bearing fruits

Jhamirdi fruits are rich in vitamin C so, helps the body to fight off infections and also to prevent or treat scurvy. Juice is also a very effective bactericide. Jhamirdi is considered as one of wild relative of cultivated lemon and is a major rootstock used for citrus fruits all over the world. However, some taxonomist consider it as a lemon X citron hybrid, but has been given the botanical name of C. jambhiri Lush. 

Jhamirdi ripe fruits are harvested from the wild and sometime  plant is grown as an ornamental plant.

Jhamirdi Plant:

Tree is medium to large, spreading, with few thorns.

Leaves are small, light green, round faintly serrated.

Close-up of jhamirdi

Flowers are small, faintly coloured, mandarin-like, purple-tinged, and produced more or less throughout year, but mainly in spring and late summer.  

Close-up of jhamirdi fruits

Fruit medium in size, of highly variable form but usually oblate to elliptic-oblong; commonly with irregularly furrowed or lobed basal collar or neck; usually with broad apical nipple surrounded by a deep irregular areolar furrow.  Rind medium-thick; surface typically deeply pitted, and rough or bumpy, sometimes ribbed; easily separable; color lemon-yellow to brownish-orange.  Segments about 10; axis large and hollow.  Flesh colour light yellow to pale orange; medium juicy; flavor moderately acid. 

Close- up of jhamirdi fruits

Seeds numerous, small, highly polyembryonic, and cotyledons faintly green. 

Ripe jhamirdi fruits can be harvested in winters while flowers are available from rainy to autumn season of the year. Natural population of jhamirdi has significantly declined in natural habitat of Western Himalayas as traditional knowledge of utilizing fruits is on sharp decline due to westernisation, modernisation and urbanisation. For coming generation jhamirdi it is a useless plant, thus it is totally an ignored plant in many parts of Western Himalayas. So, it needs both in-situ and ex-situ conservation.

Edible Uses:

Ripe fruits are eaten both fresh and cooked.  Local people of villages widely used jhamirdi as a cheap substitute of lemon for flavouring food. Mainly their juice is extracted in winters and also preserved to be used in summers as refreshing drink.

Jhamirdi fruits harvested for juice extraction/

Chutney/ pickle:

Ingredients:

Green chillies, 1 kg; zinger, 1/2kg; garlic, ½ kg; Jhamirdi  sieved fruit juice, 1 litter; jaggery, ½ kg kismis, 50 g; finely chopped date fruits, 50g  black salt according to taste. 

Method:

Make paste of chillies, garlic and ginger by grinding all in a mixer. Extract Jhamirdi fruit juice and add salt to it to avoid bitterness of juice. Now sieve juice and boil in a hot pan for some time. Add ground chillies, garlic and ginger. Mix well and add jaggery, kismis, date fruits and salt according to taste. Mix well and let it cool down.  Place chutney prepared in this way in a ceramic well. Now chutney is ready to serve and can be preserved for 1 to 2 years.

Jhamirdi fruit Juice:

Jhamirdi juice

Jhamirdi fruit juice is used as a refreshing drink in off season specially in summers.

Ingredients:

Ripe Jhamirdi fruits, 2 -3 kg, Salt 29 g

Method:

Peel off skin and remove juice either manually or with juice extraction machine. Mix this juice immediately in salt to avoid bitterness. Now sieves the juice and place in a ceramic jar. keep juice for two days to settle down left out fibers. Repeat the process 2 to 3 times to remove fibers completely. This will help to preserve Jhamirdi juice for off season.

Kachru or sosaru:

Kachru is a traditional dish of Western Himalaya cooked as chilla with spices and basen or corn flour. It is served as a evening snack with tea/ chutney/tomato ketch-up.

Ingredients:

For preparing a kachru, ingredients required are 250g fresh leaves, 1/2 kg besan (black gram powder) or corn flour. Fresh greens of rainy season and coriander leaves, 250 g; 1/2 table spoon ajwain, 3-5 green chillies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 chopped onions and salt according to taste

Method:

Make a paste of leaves, besan or corn flour and spices. Heat some oil on a flat heating pan. Put this paste over a pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes then kachru will be ready to serve.

Medicinal Uses:

Jhamirdi is rich in vitamin C which helps the body to fight off infections and also to prevent or treat scurvy. Its juice is considered best to manage high cholesterol. Applied locally, the juice is a good astringent and is used as a gargle for sore throats etc. Fruit juice is also a very effective bactericide. Fruits are considered helpful to cure cold.

Spiritual Uses:

Jhamirdi fruit juice along with turmeric powder is used in Kumkum making which is used in almost every religious ceremonies of Western Himalayas. People specially prepare Kumkum with jhamirdi fruit juice just before the marriage ceremony.Its leaves are also used in worshipping of houses in  absence of galgal  (Citrus pseudolimon) leaves.

Other Uses:

Jhamirdi  is used as a rootstock in many parts of the world. People also cultivate this plant as a garden plant in front yard of their houses.

Source of income:

Jhamirdi ripe fruits and extracted juice are easy source of income for local people. fresh fruits are sold 30 Rs /kg in local market. Jhamirdi Juice is used to manage high cholesterol, so is in great demand and sold at the rate of 100 Rs/kg.

References:

  1. Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K. (1982) Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region. Kalyani Publishers. New Delhi.

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