Tanaka (Limonia acidissima)

Common names:
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Tree
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 10b +1.7 °C (35 °F) to +4.4 °C (40 °F)
Plant Height: 30 feet
Leaves: Fragrant
Fruit: Other: The size of a tennis ball, outer shell is very hard, pulp is odorous and seedy.
Flower Color: Yellow
Other: Yellowish tinged with red
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Underground structures: Taproot
Uses: Medicinal Herb
Suitable for forage
Useful for timber production
Edible Parts: Fruit
Eating Methods: Raw

Photo by J M Garg, via Wikimedia Commons

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Location: Talakona forest, Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, IndiaDate: 2008-08-16Photo by J M Garg, via Wikimedia Commons
By greene
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Location: Southeast AsiaDate: October 13, 2014Image of Limonia acidissima bark by PlantSister.
By greene
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Posted by greene (Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) - Zone 8b) on Oct 13, 2014 8:49 AM

Limonia acidissima. This tree first came to my attention while I was looking at photos from Vietnam. Many vendors at the street market had something on their face, which looked to me like a partial face mask.

The "mask" is a paste made of powdered Tanaka bark, sometimes spelled Thanaka, Thanakka, Thanakha, and helps to protect the skin from sunburn. Please do not confuse this Tanaka with the orange-fleshed cultivar of Loquat; that was named in honor of Dr Yoshio Tanaka.

The Tanaka mask is mostly used by women and girls, but is also used by men and boys who spend time exposed to the damaging rays of the sun. Often people will place a circular patch of the mask on their cheeks, but it is also sometimes applied more creatively, in the shape of a leaf or stripes. Think of it as face painting with a purpose.

In the US we have recently learned about the benefits of the Tanaka to help acne prone skin; it has antifungal properties, and it helps to clear the acne and to heal the scars. Use of Tanaka can also help to whiten the skin. Tanaka bark extract is used in some cosmetics.

Thank you to PlantSister, who helps me to learn more about plants like this one.

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