Tropical fruit

Citrus, spp., Unidentified giant lemon variety

This is a large Citrus species. The fruit were given to me years ago when I lived in Panama City's Old Quarter. Almost everyday I would visit a fruit vendor in Santa Ana to buy a small watermelon and a pineapple. He knew I worked with plants and collected fruit species so occasionally we would exchange fruit. I would bring miracle fruit, jaboticaba, jackfruit, curry tree fruit, and others, none of which he had ever seen. Him and his family would bring me highly regarded or lesser known fruit varieties from the interior of the country, giant Nance, Algarrobo (Hymenia coubaril), Mangos.

I never verified the species of this particular Citrus, it looks like some kind of Pomelo / Citron hybrid and has a relatively think skin compared to the size of the fruit. 

Any thoughts on the species?

Myrciaria glazioviana - Yellow Jaboticaba, Cabelluda

Chrysobalanaceae, Licania platypus, Sansapote, Sonzapote

Sansapote is an excellent shade tree, also apparently yields a high quality, fine grain wood. The fruit is interesting, tastes similar to sweet pumpkin, although it is not a substantial food source.

Sapindaceae, Blighia sapida, Akee, Seso Vegetal


Akee is native to and widely cultivated on the East coast of Africa. The English brought it from there to their colonies in the Caribbean where it is now well integrated. It is the national fruit of Jamaica.

The tree ranges in height from 10 - 25 meters. The canopy is open and broad. The fruit is a capsule in the form of a pear. When the fruit is ripe it splits open, exposing three shiny black seeds encased in a creamy white colored flesh, which is the part consumed. The fleshy arial has been described as looking similar to a small brain.

Akee is a curious and potentially dangerous fruit. If the unripe fruit is opened and the aril is eaten it can be deadly, or sufficiently poisonous to induce a coma. When picked before it is fully ripe the fruit contains a chemical that limits the body’s ability to release the backup supply of glucose that is stored in the liver. That supply is essential because once the body uses up the sugar immediately available in the bloodstream, an event that usually occurs several hours after eating, it depends on this glucose to keep blood sugar levels normal until the next meal. Without it, blood sugar plunges dangerously. Enough people have died from eating unripened akee to make it illegal to bring the raw fruit into the U.S although that restriction doesn’t apply to canned and properly processed akee.

Symptoms of akee poisoning can include uncontrollable vomiting, dizziness, severe hypoglycaemia, convulsions, coma and even death.

However, if the fruit is left to ripen and open itself, the flesh poses no danger whatsoever. All other parts of the fruit should never be eaten.  I remember visiting the Lancetilla botanical gardens Tela, Honduras. In their flier they discuss Akee, giving reference to the wife of the founder to the garden who had the mishap of consuming unripe Akee and, as a result, falling into a coma and eventually dying.

Akee can be eaten fried or boiled, typically with fish or meat. The texture is similar to eggs. A curious fruit indeed.

Akee is considered highly nutritious due to its high content of fats.

The tree thrives in a hot, humid climate and does not support long, dry periods. It is best grown in deep, well drained, soils. Liming is beneficial.

Psidium Cattleianum - Strawberry Guava

Native to Brazil, Cattley Guava was brought to China by the Portuguese. From China it was introduced into Europe where it is known as Strawberry Guava, it can also be found cultivated in the Mediterranean, Hawaii, Florida, California, Mexico and throughout Central America. P. cattleianum is a very attractive shrub, however it can grow up to eight m in height. The leaves are dark brown and somewhat glossy, the bark is shiny and peeling. The fruit are 3-4 cm in diameter, considered by many to be the best species of guava. There are red and yellow varieties.

The Strawberry guava is rich in vitamin C and contains 4.5% sugar, 6% fiber and 1.1% protein.


Pouteria campechiana - Eggfruit, Canistel


Canistel originates in Mexico and Central America where it has been cultivated since antiquity. It is now very common in Cuba and tropical America from Florida to Uruguay, it can also be found in the Philippines and Malaysia. The tree is typically managed between five and eight meters high. The fruit is five to ten centimeters long and round, or in the form of a egg with a point. The pulp is firm and almost powder, likened to the texture of a hardboiled egg yolk. It has a very rich flavor and texture. A fantastic fruit, in my opinion. I have heard that cheesecake made out of the fruit pulp is exceptional. Due to its almost powdery texture, the eggfruit is highly versatile and can be integrated into virtually any kind of blended drink or dish.

The fruit contains up to 40% carbohydrates, 2.5% protein, and is  great source of Vitamins A, B3, and C.

Canistel is adaptable to a wide variety of soils and can be grown in both tropical and subtropical climates, as long as there is no freeze. It is very drought tolerant.

Rhamnaceae, Zizyphus mauritiana, Indian Jujube

Jujube is one of the five primary fruits in China, having been cultivated thereabouts for 4,000 some odd years, probably longer.  The fruit is very common in parts of Asia, and increasingly so in the Medeterranian. The tree is best adapted to dry tropical climates and can be found throughout the tropics, although it is not very common outside of Asia. 

The tree can reach 12 meters in height, although most of the ones I've encountered, propagated by approach grafting, are smaller, sprawling shrubs. In dry, colder areas the tree doesn't typically surpass 4 meters in height. 

The Indian Jujube (Z. mauritania) and the Chinese Jujube (Z. jujuba) can be distinguished by the underside of the leaves. The underside of the Indian jujube leaves is covered with an almost cream colored fuzz. The fruit is usually the shape and size of a olive, although improved Chinese varieties can be larger than 6 cm in length. Each fruit contains a stone with two seeds. 

The Jujube can be consumed in numerous ways: ripe or unripe, cooked, in sweets and jams, breads, cheeses, and a butter is prepared with the pulp. Juices are also made. In order to dry the fruits, one must wait until the process is initiated on the tree, the fruit ripens, becomes soft and then dries. The soft fruit has a higher concentration of sugars. Dried fruits are common, and can be conserved and consumed like raisins. 

The wood is very strong, often used to make agricultural implements, also used to make a top quality charcol. The tree is commonly used as a living fence and windbreak in arid regions. Leaves are used as food for silkworms. The bark is used for tanning. The leaves and fruit are an excellent animal forage. 

There are numerous superior grafted varieties of Chinese Jujube, including Lang, Li, Sui Men, Mu Shing hong, and Yu. There are over 125 known varieties of Indian Jujube in India, including "Gola", "Safeda", "Banarsi", and "Haichi". 

High quality fruits contain up to 21% sugar, 1.5% protein, and are rich in calcium, fosforo and vitamin C.

The trees can be propagated by seed, approach grafting, cuttings and air layer. 

Syzygium samarangense - Java Apple

This is an air layered variety I got from Taiwanese agronomistsIn Panama