Once you have savored these fruits, an insatiable craving for them will take hold, compelling you to indulge in their delightful flavors year after year.

Wild Mulberries
Wild Mulberries from the hills are small but extremely juicy.

The Himalayas boast a unique assortment of wild fruits that are seldom found in other parts of India. These are not cultivated varieties, but rather gifts from nature to the region. While some of these fruits are easily spotted during early summers, others may require a bit of exploration to discover. If you take a leisurely stroll through our garden during the appropriate season, you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of these fruits flourishing around you.

Kaphal / Box Myrtle / Bay-Berry

Kaphal or Box Myrtle is one of the tastiest fruit found in the region

Box Myrtle, also known as Bay-Berry or Kaphal in Uttarakhand, is a prevalent wild fruit in the region during early summers. It offers a distinct blend of sweetness and sourness, which locals enhance with a pinch of salt. The fruit has a drupaceous structure, with a minimal edible portion on the exterior. Interestingly, villagers attribute headache and migraine relief properties to this fruit. Moreover, it holds a significant place in local folklore and traditional songs.

Villager selling Kaphal

These berries are often a popular choice among school children, who eagerly gather them after their school day and even sell them on the roadside. However, this enthusiasm sometimes leads to unintended consequences, as the children may end up staining their school uniforms with the berry juice. Nevertheless, their caring mothers never complain and promptly clean the stains, ensuring the uniforms are spotless for the next school day.

If you prefer to enjoy these berries, I recommend picking them on your own to relish their freshness. Alternatively, if you decide to purchase them from roadside vendors, be prepared to engage in friendly price negotiations

Ghingaroo / Himalayan Redberry / Firethorn Apple

As the names say it, these are fruits that are small in size like berries but look similar to apples. Horticulture people say that these are actually ‘Pome’ or in laymen’s terms, apples.

Ghingaroo, a striking red fruit that grows in bunches
Ghingaroo, a striking red fruit that grows in bunches

It used to be a common fruit in the area, so much so that there was a local saying in Kumaoni ‘Aadu Bedu Ghingaroo’ which means that it was available for everyone. However, since the plant attracts wildlife a lot, locals have now cut it down in most of the surrounding villages. Plan a long walk in the forest area during summers and you might spot it. Dark red and small berry-like apples are hard to miss.

Hisalu / Himalayan Raspberry

A berry that quite frequently gets mentioned with Kaphal is the Himalayan Raspberry. It is called Hisalu in the local language. Not as common as kaphal but still it can be found growing on thorny bramble bushes on the roadsides near our cottages.

Himalayan Raspberry
Himalayan Raspberry (Hisalu) growing on its thorny shrub

The berries offer a delightful sweetness that effortlessly melts in your mouth, providing a truly delectable experience. Their center reveals a hollow core. For perfect enjoyment, it is recommended to pluck these succulent berries and savor them directly.

Himalayan Raspberry is smaller in size than the regular red-colored raspberries that are commercially available, but these are even more delicious

This shrub is frequently used in Natadol and the surrounding region as a hedge around the fruit gardens. The thorny bushes keep the deers, foxes, and even cattle away from the cultivated fruit trees. Himalayan Raspberries are not very commonly sold on the roadsides. These are difficult to pick due to the thorny nature of the shrub and the berries themselves get spoilt very easily. Sometimes they do find their way to large towns on the hills and are sold at a premium to the tourists.

Orange ones are the most common, but dark red and black colored berries can also be spotted at places.

Bamori / Dogwood Berries

Bamori or Dogwood Berry
Bamori or Dogwood Berry – Thick and bitter peel, but delicious inside

Bamori or Dogwood Berries are also frequently found growing wild. These have a thick and bitter peel, but inside they are delicious. With hints of peach and custard apple in their taste, these are some great finds on any forest trail.

Junglee Seb / Crab Apple

Crab Apples
Crab Apples – extremely sour and yet juicy and delicious

Almora is well known for its apple orchards. The apples from this region are well known as Kumaon apples and consist of various cultivars. However very few know that there exists another wild variety of these loved apples, called the wild apples. These wild apples or Crab Apples are small in size. The taste varies from very sour to slightly sweetish. With a very high content of iron, these crab-apples can’t be served as cut fruits and due to their small size, the demand is very low. Some of these wild apples still grow in the forests but most of them have been used as a rootstock for other higher-yield and better-looking apple cultivars. These are also used to increase fruits’ yield by promoting cross-pollination.

Kushmaroo / Jardaloo / Indian Apricot

Apricots that are commonly seen in the markets have a wild cousin of theirs, which is the true indigenous variety. Kushmaroo or Jardaloo grows wild in the hills of this region. Due to its smaller size and short shelf-life than the common apricots (khubani), it does not fetch a very good price in the fruit market and so as a result farmers don’t plant it.

The way these wild apricots fill up the trees !

It is tastier than the common khubani and tastes best just at the end of summers, after the initial few showers of rain. The ones that are ready to be eaten are the ones that can be plucked off the tree with just a light touch.

Junglee Gimaani / Himalayan Coralberry

Gimaani is a small berry with a mildly sweet taste and subtle citrus undertones, typically found during the latter part of the summer and rainy season. Each berry contains a single small seed. Interestingly, local villagers believe that bears have a fondness for Gimaani, which is why many of them avoid allowing it to grow near their homes.

Junglee Gimaani – a delicately sweet-tasting tiny fruit

Kirmando / Kilmora / Barberry

This looks very similar to various other berries in the region however the locals can easily point these out. The color of mature berries varies from red to purplish black. The berries and the plant have many medicinal uses. A small caution – These berries are not to be given to very small children, pregnant ladies, and feeding mothers.

Red Kirmando or Kilmora. Photo: shahram_emile/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

In addition to the cultivated varieties, the Kumaon region is also home to abundant wild plum, persimmon, and cherry trees. What makes these wild fruits truly special is that they grow naturally, without any human intervention, making them completely organic. Even if you purchase them from a vendor, you can rest assured that they are free from harmful chemicals.

However, with the rise of high-yielding and visually appealing plums, apples, apricots, and strawberries, these wild fruits have lost some popularity among tourists. Nonetheless, the locals still cherish them and indulge in their delightful flavors. When you visit our homestay during the summer, we encourage you to ask us to help you discover these hidden gems of wild fruits.

4 thoughts on “Wild Fruits

  1. मुझे ये फ्रूट देख कर अपना बचपन याद आ गया i love this fruit


  2. Looks brilliant. Would be great if there are provisions to stay. If yes, let us know related details.
    +91 9831411695


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