The bael is a large tree, 8 to 10 metres in height. It has a big stout trunk, unusual branches with long, straight outgrowth, aromatic leaves, sweet scented and greenish-white flowers. The fruit is woody and smooth, 5 to 15 cm in diameter. It has numerous seeds which are densely covered with fibrous hair and are embedded in a thick aromatic pulp. The flesh is eaten fresh or dried.
Bael tree is held sacred by the Hindus. The history of this tree has been traced to Vedic period (2000 B.C. 800 B.C.). The mention of bael fruit has been made in Yajurveda. The bael tree has great mythological significance and abounds in the vicinity of temples. The leaves of the tree are~ traditionally used as sacred offering to Lord Shiva, the God of. health. Lord Shiva is believed to live under the bael tree. The bael tree is indigenous to India and is grown throughout the sub-continent a;’ well as most countries of South-east Asia .
An analysis of the bael fruit shows that it consists of moisture 61.5 per cent, protein 1.8 per cent, fat 0.3 per cent, minerals 1.7 per cent, fibre 2.9 per cent and carbohydrates 31.8 per cent per 100 grams of edible portion. Its mineral and vitamin contents include calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. Its calorific value is 137.
Several chemical constituents have been isolated and from various parts of the bael tree. These include alkaloids, coumarins and steroids. The leaves contain skimianinc, sterol and aegelin. The active constituent of the fruit is marmorosin, which is identical to imperatorin. Odler coumarins contained in the fruits are altoimperatorin and B sitosterol. Roots of the tree have been found to contain psoralin, xanthotoxin, scopoletin and tembamide.
Healing Power and Curative Properties of Aegle marmelos:
The bael tree is one of the most useful medicinal plants of India . Its medicinal properties have been described in the ancient medical treatise jn Sanskrit, Charaka Samhita. All parts of this tree-stem, batk, root, leaves and fruit at all stages of maturity have medicinal virtues and have been used as medicine for a long time.