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Pink Wampee berries are tiny and lipstick pink. Inside of the fruit is a translucent, gelatinous, juicy flesh with divided segments, each of which contains a shiny blue-green seed. Each oblong berry grows up to ¾ of an inch across. The Pink Wampee berry is satisfyingly sweet and slightly citrusy, with a mildly resinous and kumquat-like aftertaste created by the tiny oil glands under its skin. The berry's flavor also contains notes of black licorice, fennel, coriander, and coffee. Pink Wampee berries have a pleasantly soft texture.
In the United States Pink Wampee berries are available in late fall.
The Pink Wampee’s scientific name, Clausena excavata, refers to the flowers’ hollow filaments, slender organs that are a part of the plant’s stamens. (Excavatus is Latin for “hollowed out.”) It belongs to the Rutaceae, or citrus, family along with lemons, grapefruit, and kumquats. Pink Wampees are lean trees that grow up to 25 feet tall, with thin branches described by the botanist J.D. Hooker as “thick as a crow’s quill.” The tree produces cascades of tiny white flowers which transform into the lovely long berries that begin grape green before blushing into a gorgeously transparent magenta. Its leaves smell deliciously of curry when crushed. The Pink Wampee is the type species of the Clausena genus, meaning that it is of great importance to taxonomists that name other species within the genus. The Pink Wampee is known by a plethora of epithets including the English names “hollowed Clausena” and “pink lime-berry.” In Malaysia the tree goes by "Cherek hitam," "Chemama," and "Kemantu hitam."
Nutritional information is not available for this fruit.
The unique flavor profile of Pink Wampee berries lends a singular deliciousness to desserts. Its gorgeous color also provides a stunning edible garnish. We recommend the pairing of Pink Wampee berries with ice cream, chocolates, and other fruits.
Throughout its native range the Pink Wampee is utilized in a variety of different ways. The primary documented uses of Pink Wampee trees are medicinal, though some also use it as a potherb. In a number of folk traditions Pink Wampee is applied in the treatment of a wide range of health issues such as tooth decay, postpartum concerns, headaches, dyspepsia, intestinal worms, coughs, chicken lice, malaria, and fever. It is also used as a bitter, tonic, diuretic, and astringent. Scientifically the tree is being studied for the anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties of its bark, leaves, and roots. The tree also touts proven antibacterial and antifungal benefits, as well as a number of secondary metabolites. Among its many other uses Pink Wampee trees are employed in Java to construct axe handles, in appropriate climates as an ornamental and, thanks to its essential oils, in perfumery. In some cultures Pink Wampee is also used ritually.
While the Pink Wampee is native to India, people have spread this valuable tree throughout southern Asia and the South Pacific. It thrives in tropical and subtropical climates and is noted for its ability to survive in temperatures that dip down into the 20’s. There is no other species within the Clausena genus that covers more land than the Pink Wampee.