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The wonders of gumihan

The wonders of gumihan

I was intrigued by a comment from a reader of a posted article about gumihan in a Philippine online site (Philippine.tambayan.com) that says: “Gumihan is a not-so-common fruit desired for its aromatic, fleshy and sweet taste. This tree grows well in Bicol, existing as natural stand. As there is no attempt to commercially propagate it this tree is fast vanishing. Compared to marang, a gumihan fruit is smaller but it tastes far superior to the former. We should save this tree species before it goes extinct.”

From another botanical site gumihan was also a recent topic.  Derek Cabactulan a resource person and member of the plant id site, Co’s Digital Flora of the Philippines, also added: “According to CDFP from the old records, this tree is indigenous to Borneo, Philippines, Sulawesi, and Moluccas. LUZON: Quezon to Sorsogon, MINDORO, BILIRAN, SAMAR, MINDANAO. I think this tree is underutilized in some parts of our country. It is a good tree in the backyard that provide us food, shade and as ornamental backyard plant. Better save some seeds and gave those who were interested in planting this tree.  It is a valuable ethno-agroforestry species.”

These interesting tidbits of information  prompted me to test taste the fruit. Fortunately, the months of  May and June to July is  the fruiting season of the gumihan tree and ordering from Joseph a villager from Odikin was just a text (SMS) away. He brought four(4) ripe fruits from a gumihan tree not far from their house. “The fruits are just falling from the tree and anyone is welcome to partake of it. It is for free, ” Joseph told me.  No wonder that no one is planting the gumihan. Sadly, fruit trees are only valued as an agricultural crop if the fruits are given monetary equivalent.

Gumihan fruits from Odikin, Bulusan, June 2014

Gumihan fruits from Odikin, Bulusan, June 2014

In terms of appearance the gumihan looks like a small marang with scruffy hair (above photos). Its seeds are more packed and dense and  less fleshy than marang fruits. It is devoid however of the heavy scent associated with marang. The downside of eating gumihan is you won’t feel full while eating and the jaw will become so heavily worked out. In the words of Joan a young mountain maiden familiar with the fruit: “mangangalay an imo panga ate sa kasusupsop (your jaw will get tired from sucking the pulp out of the seeds).” True enough, my jaw felt like it had been to a work out after finishing the four pieces of gumihan straight in one sitting.

Naturally grown and fruiting gumihan tree along the mountain trail of Kapangihan, an outlying mountain village of Bulusan.

Wild grown and fruiting gumihan tree along the mountain trail of Kapangihan, an outlying mountain village of Bulusan.

Wild and delicious. The gumihan is an example of an underutilized endemic forest fruit tree that needs to be reintroduced and cultivated for future generations.

Gumihan’s scientific name is Artocarpus sericicarpus.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

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9 thoughts on “The wonders of gumihan

  1. I’m from Bicol and the last time I tasted gumihan was while I was still a kid. Smaller in size, its taste is heavenly, with a fragrant aroma not quite like marang. Since then, I’ve been looking for this fruit when I had the opportunity to go home to Bicol. Will someone tell me where I can source/buy gumihan seedlings? I plan to propagate it in my farm in San Pablo, Laguna. I’m developing this farm to remind me of Bicol, introducing endemic plant species such as pili, baligang/lipote, and the not-so-common culinary herb langkwas (“galangal”). Planting gumihan would complement this mix.

    • Hi Ruben. Thanks for visiting my blog. I guess you are my source of the quoted comment above 🙂 and thanks for your gumihan information. This actually brought about this gumihan post since there is little information about Philippine gumihan on the net. Btw, you are on the right spot. All those species you are looking for are available in my hometown. In fact, these are still quite common in Bulusan’s villages.

      • Hello Alma. I haven’t given up on my quest for the elusive gumihan. I’m planning to go to Bicol this November and hope to bring some gumihan seedlings with me to plant in my farm in Laguna. Would you know of someone who propagates gumihan seedlings? I’ve been trying to contact the Bureau of Plant Industry in Albay to inquire but so far I have been unsuccessful. The gumihan would provide a good mix to my two 8-foot marang trees I planted three years ago. Best.

  2. i love collecting plants. yes gumihan is one plant i’m still looking for aside from Layuan,Gumihan,Haggis,Lima-lima
    . Im staying in tabaco. Is there away i can ask for a seeds or plant to propagate?

  3. i missed this fruit, when i was young we always put an eyes to this tree of gumihan if the fruits are all ready to harvest, but sometimes if it was not yet we harvest those were almost riped, we just covered these unriped fruits with palays, the heat atmosphere of palays tend them to riped for only one day and it is ready to be eaten.., we didn’t throw the seeds, we washed it then we fried it, the taste is just like a peanut..,

  4. Thank you for this article and the accompanying pictures. As you say, there is really little on the tree (at least in English) online. I am preparing to sprout some Gumihan and Galo from seed and really hoping it goes successfully.

    Do you by chance know anything of its root structure? As in is it shallow and spreading or does it prefer to root deep?

    • You are welcome, S.O. I have no idea as to the root structure of Gumihan. My observation though, is that these trees are seldom toppled by typhoons. Maybe because of its rooting grip or its sturdy branches and trunk.

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