According to the PTS Pali-English Dictionary, the Pali word kapiṭṭha (or kaviṭṭha) refers to the tree Feronia elephantum, better known today by the alternative scientific name of Limonia acidissima. The tree is known by a variety of popular names including wood-apple, elephant-apple, monkey fruit, and curd fruit. A large tree growing to 9 metres, kapiṭṭha has a wide variety of culinary and practical uses.
The fruit (kapiṭṭhaphala) is a berry 5–9 cm in diameter with a very hard rind containing a sticky brown pulp and small white seeds. The fruit pulp is nutritious, containing 31% carbohydrate and 2% protein by weight, along with beta-carotene (a precursor of Vitamin A), the B vitamins thiamine and riboflavin, and vitamin C. The leaves have a citrus scent when crushed. Kapiṭṭha is favoured as a hedge plant due to its rapid growth, as it quickly provides fruit, foliage and shade.
As a food, the fruit is eaten raw, blended into drinks and sweets, or preserved as a jam, chutney, pickle or jelly. The fruit pulp is eaten uncooked with or without sugar, or is combined with coconut milk and palm-sugar syrup and drunk as a beverage, or frozen as an ice cream. Bael-panna, a drink made by blending the fruit with water and spices, is drunk during summer. In Indonesia, the pulp of the ripe fruit is beaten with palm sugar and eaten at breakfast. The sugared pulp is a foundation of sherbet in the Indian subcontinent.
Young leaves are used as a salad green in Thailand, where the plant is known as makhwid ( มะขวิด ). The raw pulp is varied with yoghurt and make into raita. The bark also produces an edible gum.
Kapiṭṭha has many practical uses. The thick, hard rind of the fruit can be carved and used as a utensil such as a small bowl. The tree has hard wood which can be used for woodworking. The fruit pulp has a soap-like action that has made it a household cleaner for hundreds of years. The sticky layer around the unripe seeds is used as a household glue that is also used in jewellery-making. The glue, mixed with lime, waterproofs wells and cements walls. The glue also protects oil paintings when added as a coat on the canvas. In Myanmar, ground kapiṭṭha bark is also used as a cosmetic called thanakha ( သနပ်ခါး ). The fruit rind yields oil that is popular as a fragrance for hair; it also produces a dye used to colour silks and calico.