Some Tropical Fruits You Won't Find at Your Corner Store
Photo by Melody

Some Tropical Fruits You Won't Find at Your Corner Store

By Jean-Jacques Segalen (jjacques)August 11, 2013
bookmark

The word ‘tropical fruits’ usually refers to those fruits which are now an everyday sight in temperate countries such as bananas, mangoes, papayas, pineapples and so forth. But the famous prodigality of tropical flora produces much more delicious goodies which will usually be found only on local markets in exotic countries.

Gardening picture (Editor's Note: This article was originally published on May 11, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

  I will therefore introduce here some tropical fruits which are not usually offered in supermarkets either because they are not commercially grown or because of handling and transporting difficulties they may involve. As I live on this remote tropical island of Reunion, I will emphasize on fruits which are to be found here and there in old gardens and orchards, a vanishing part of our heritage.

  All right now, let us put a good straw-hat on and move on to the garden ; on the right we have this handsome shrub with lustrous dark leaves, bearing small black shiny fruits looking like cherries. Indeed, this is the ‘Brasilian cherry' or ‘grumichama', which berries have a juicy red or orange flesh, with a very delicate taste. Eugenia brasiliensis belongs to the large Myrtaceae family, just like this other plant on its right, ImageEugenia uniflora or ‘Surinam cherry'. Its fruits have a rather different look, ripening orange or red, with eight characteristic ribs, hence the French name of ‘cerise à côtes' (ribbed cherry). Note that both species can be easily grown from seed and make nice house plants, having a reasonable size for indoor use.Image

  You will have to lift somewhat your head to appreciate next species as this one is a tree up to fifteen meters (forty-five feet) high, Syzygium jambos, from Indo-Malaysia, produces the ‘rose apple' which does taste like rose, a delicate fruit though a terrible invader which overtakes whole gullies in wet parts of the island. The rose apple is another member of the Myrtaceae.Image

  Let us now switch to a different family, the Annonaceae, all of which are native to tropical America so that you may have enjoyed the fruit in Chichicastenango or in Cozumel...This strange looking one bristly with soft spines grows directly on the trunk or on main branches, a feature known as cauliflory, typical of tropical plants. Once open it will reveal a white juicy flesh with a sharp taste, often turned into drinks, this is the sour-sop or prickly custard apple, Annona muricata. The sugar apple stands right after the clump of Heliconias, on your left. Its fruits indeed are sweet and have to be eaten really ripe, once they start opening. The Annona squamosa is more adapted to dry areas than A. muricata and can also be grown as house plant.

Image

  Your nose has probably already warned you that over ripe fruits of Artocarpus heterophylus are scattered on the floor...The jackfruit has certainly a smell of its own, reminding of French cheese for the well travelled of you. It is the biggest fruit of all, it can be over two feet long and weight some forty pounds, don't set your hammock there for a nap ! Much grown and enjoyed in tropical countries it can either be used unripe, cooked with smoked meat or eaten raw and is highly nutritious.Image

   No sir, this is not chocolate tree, those pods which do look somewhat like cocoa pods are in fact the fruits of Bombacopsis glabra (formerly Pachira aquatica) a member of the Bombacaeae, the baobab family. Those pods are full of red-brownish nuts which will be eaten raw or grilled, the American chestnut or pachira nut tastes like a mix of chestnut and hazelnut.

   Aha ! Here is a rarity, much sough after amongst collectors. This small bush is the Synsepalum dulce, from the Sapotaceae family (a cousin of the chicle tree). It produces small red acidulous fruits which are not that good, so what is the point ? The trick is that it will saturate some taste receptors of your mouth making you taste sweet what is actually acid. So you can chew on a green lime and feel like it is cotton candy, a funny experience but your stomach might no appreciate too much...It is called ‘the miracle fruit'.

  Well, we are reaching the end of this part of the garden, let us admire this very beautiful tree, Chrysophyllum caïnito, the star apple. It is prized for its ornamental value ; the leaves are glossy green on top and golden brown on the underside, hence its botanical name (Chryso is greek for gold and phyllum stands for leaves). Growing up to 15m (45 feet) this other member of the Sapotaceae also produces delicious fruits with a soft, sticky and sweet white flesh absolutely unique.

   Seeing that today's visitors are real amateurs we will make a short detour to enjoy the famous king of the fruits and fruit of the kings, Garcinia mangostana, the mangosteen. A very slow grower native to Malaysia, this member of the Clusiaceae would justify a trip to Malaysia or Indonesia just to enjoy it (july-august is harvest period). The outside looks like a small cannonball, round and strong, a deep violet colour. Once you open the hard skin it will reveal a pure white flesh with the most delicious taste (sorry, it is absolutely impossible to describe, you have to taste it yourself).Image

  This is it for today, ladies and gentlemen, I hope you have enjoyed the tour and appreciated the fruits. Of course there is much more in other parts of the garden, other tours are scheduled, you are very welcome !


  About Jean-Jacques Segalen  
Jean-Jacques SegalenI am a Parisian born professional horticulturist specialized in tropical seeds producing, living on Reunion island (just between Mauritius and Madagascar) for 22 years . I spend a lot of time gathering seeds in the wild, the ones I do not grow that is. Also a dedicated Tai-Chi practitioner and fully certified arborist-tree surgeon Just released my first book on tropical plants and fruits, check it at http://www.barbadine.com/pages/livrejjGB.html

  Helpful links  
Share on Facebook Share on Stumbleupon

[ Mail this article | Print this article ]

» Read articles about: Tropicals, Annona, Syzygium, Eugenia, Garcinia, Synsepalum

» Read more articles written by Jean-Jacques Segalen

« Check out our past articles!



Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
Mango and coconut? Dinu 1 10 Aug 23, 2013 5:33 AM
tropical fruits francine38 1 4 Aug 23, 2013 5:31 AM
Amateur gardener with a mangosteen tree! malsprower 4 61 Aug 12, 2013 11:38 AM
tropical fruit arasad escot 1 7 Dec 15, 2012 11:52 PM
Thanks for the Tour luv2wok 1 5 Aug 20, 2011 2:02 AM
Good article KELLI2L 1 6 Aug 13, 2011 2:22 AM
chico zapote - fruit of the chicle tree kentepoz 1 9 Aug 10, 2011 6:59 AM
hey aww07 1 18 Sep 7, 2008 5:15 AM
Excellent article on fruit! girlgroupgirl 7 56 May 14, 2008 12:02 PM
Indescribable Flavor starfarmer 1 28 May 13, 2008 10:01 AM
tropical fruits LADYDAYGLASS 1 21 May 12, 2008 9:26 AM
My Beautiful, Exquisite Mangosteen ... wrightie 5 81 May 12, 2008 4:38 AM
Good Article phicks 1 13 May 12, 2008 4:21 AM
You cannot post until you login.


We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2014 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.
 

Hope for America