Citrus Marcoptera : A rare Citrus species in NE India

S. Romen Singh, L Wangchu, N Devachandra, Barunsingh and BN Hazarika
Hatkora also known as Satkara is one of the most important under exploited and endangered species of Citrus among the species found in North East India. It is tight-skinned, belonging to species Citrus marcoptera.
It is popularly grown in North East states like Manipur, Tripura, Assam and Mizoram as a spice fruit crop. It has a characteristic feature of a large “wings” on the potiole, which is as large as the blade of the leaf.
The tree, which has thorns, can reach 5 m in height. Its fruit is about 6-7 cm in diameter, has a fairly smooth, moderately thick rind and become yellow when ripe. The pulp of the fruit is greenish yellow and dry (does not produce much juice). The juice is very bitter, and somewhat sour.
However, still now this important underexploited spice fruit crops is not standardized for its propagation technique and cultivation practices for large scale cultivation.
The 21st century has witnessed increase in awareness to rescue and improve the use of those crops left aside by research, technology, marketing system as well as conservation efforts.
These underutilized crops have been included in world-wide plan of action after having successfully raised the interest of decision makers. Leading international research organization such as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), are among those taking a keen interest in strengthening the work on these species. The Global Forum on Agriculture Research (GFAR) in 1999 also emphasized the role of underutilized species in raising income of the rural poor.
These novel crop also will help these rural sectors in mitigating the malnutrition, income generation and hence enabling them a quality life.
Therefore, explorations for the agro-techniques for Heiribob growers are necessary for commercial cultivation for this important spice fruit crop.
Uses : In Bangladesh, the thick fleshy rind of the Citrus macroptera is eaten as a vegetable due to its unique aroma and flavour, while the pulp is usually discarded because of its bitter-sour taste.
In Manipur locally known as Heiribob, is an important spice crop for making fish curry and other spicy dishes. In Assam it is used as medicinal plant by the local people. Besides, it is used for the perfume industry for the extraction of oil from it peel. In Meghalaya, both Garo and Khasi tribe use peel and fruit juice for culinary and pulp for pickle purpose. Among the North Eastern States, it is more costly in Manipur as compared to other States due to more consumption among the people as a spice for delicious spicy dishes or curry locally called Kangsoi preparation.
Morphotype of Citrus macroptera found in NE India: There are 4 species of Citrus marcoptera based on the morphological variation however, still now, no varietal evaluation is carried out which are found in the North East India for the selection of superior/elite morphotype and its clonal multiplication which are better in yield and aroma for consumption as spice or perfumery industry. The morphotype are Citrus macroptera var. macroptera, Citrus macroptera var. annamensis, Citrus macroptera var. combara and Citrus macroptera var. kerrii.
Phytochemical constituents: Fruits, leaves, and stems contain phytochemical like limonene, beta-caryophyllene, beta-pinene, geranial edulinine, ribalinine and isoplatydesmine which are useful for antioxidant, cytotoxic, antimicrobial and thrombolytic. So, it is used as fold medicine for curing the diseases in the rural area or remote places from generation to generation for the human mankind.
In North East India particularly Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Assam it is one of the important spice trees. However, there is lack of screening superior genotype and standardization of agro-technique for this rare and endanger citrus species. Therefore, it is now apparent that policy be framed and executed to explore the hidden potential of these novel fruit species to strengthen the security in terms of good, nutrition and income generation for the future.
The writers are from  College of Horticulture & Forestry, Central Agricultural University, Pasighat, Arunchal Pradesh
For further details contact: - Public Relations& Media Management Cell, CAU, Imphal. Email: [email protected]