Langgir is a very special fruit to me. It reminds me of my late mother. I have fond
memories of langgir. Though it tastes just plainly sweet without much flavor, langgir holds a very special place in my heart.
When I was in primary school, I was my mom’s shampoo girl. I helped her to comb her hair with a wooden comb and langgir shampoo. She would pour langgir shampoo on her hair continuously and my job was combing her waist long hair non-stop for almost half an hour. Not very long after my first few services, I learned to escape from this combing task halfway by telling her I wanted to read books borrowed from the school library. You see, she knew I read a lot but seldom studied.
“Mom, I got a pile of books to read and to be returned.” I would tell her this as soon as I spotted a passer-by who could replace me.
“Well then, go and find a replacement .” She would tell me so.
Off I went and grabbed any lady passing by our old house and told them my mom needed extra hands. Most of them were Iban mothers who were on their way to the bazaar across river or on their way back to their longhouses which were 1/2- 1 hour walk from our house. They were just too happy to help because they would chat non-stop till the last drop of langgir shampoo gone into the drain. All those ‘Induo’ (ladies in Iban) were her good friends.
Langgir in Malay or Langir in Iban, is Xanthophyllum amoenum Chodat in Latin. It has a Hakka name – 青蓝壳 which means greenish blue shell. Its fruit is about 4 cm in diameter. Its immature fruit is green and turns yellowish green when it is ripe. The skin is thin, soft and easily crushed. That is why langgir fruits are never perfectly round. Very often the skin is indented. Each fruit has 4-5 brown large seeds covered with thin aril. The pulp clings to the seed and is sweet and lack of flavor. Some people loves its taste especially after keeping in the fridge it tastes sweet and juicy.
What is special about langgir is its skin. Do not throw away its skin after finish eating the fruits. Our natives in the markets do sell dry langgir skin in strings.
Dry skin of langgir can be crushed and boiled in water to be used as a natural shampoo. It produces bubbles when it is mixed with hot or cool water. It is a good remedy for dandruff. Ibans in Sarawak believe that prolonged use of the langgir shampoo will result in glossy black hair. And indeed it was true in my mom’s case. She had black long hair until she was 60 years old whereas my hair turned grey even before my 50th birthday !
Besides being used as shampoo, langgir dried skin can be used as detergent too. Boiled langgir skin water was used by the Iban people for washing clothes. Look at the two pictures shown below.
I did an experiment on a piece of tablecloth. First, I poured oil over it and then soaked it overnight in a bucket of boiled langgir skin water. The bubbles disappeared and the table cloth came out clean of traces of oil. This shows that it can remove oil from soiled cloth. Check table 1 for its nutritional value here.
Ok, let’s have langgir shampoo and detergent in the market.
Our rainforest is full of surprises .
There are fruits, shampoo, detergent, edible ferns, herbs and what else ?
Oh, yes, timber, of course and animals plus waterfalls and caves……..
Yes, endless resources from the nature ……..
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