Soh lymwai refers to the fruit of a large, wild tree that grows near rivers and hilly areas in the East Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya, in northeastern India. The trees grow to an average of 3 meters tall, with thin long leaves that are reddish-green in color. The tree flowers between February and March and produces fruit in the months of September and October. A single tree produces 5-10 kg of fruit per year.
The soh lymwai fruits hang individually like cherries on the trees’ branches. The fruit is red in color and is round and small with a large seed inside, again similar to a cherry. The seed is brown in color and soft. Once ripe, the entire fruit is eaten raw, together with the seed. Soh lymwai has a sweet taste reminiscent of black currants. Besides eating the raw fruits, in the past, the communities would utilize the seeds to its seeds to trap jungle rats. As jungle rats enjoy eating the seeds, they would fall into traps and then these rats would be cooked and eaten by the local communities.
Soh lymwai is not sold in markets, but collected from the wild for personal consumption. It is disappearing largely due mismanagement of forest resources and the fact that trees take at least 10 years before yielding fruit. In addition, over consumption of this wild resource coupled with fewer mature trees have heightened the risk of its disappearing. Better forest management techniques and care for existing trees is needed for this fruit to survive for future generations.