plant nursery

Bombacaceae, Pachira (Bombacopsis) glabra, Saba nut, American chestnut

Originating in Mexico, Guiana, and  northern Brazil, Pachira glabra is similar looking and closely related to Pachira aquatica, the Malabar chestnut. Despite its origins in America, I took most of the photos above in Gabon where it appears to be valued as a foodcrop.

I have about fifteen trees growing from seed I collected from a few trees I found planted along the street in a middle class neighborhood in San Jose, Costa Rica. In addition to this tree there were tropical olives (Simarouba glauca), citrus and macadamia nuts planted as street trees in the same neighborhood.

It is a small evergreen tree 4-6 m tall. The fruits are semi-woody capsules which stay green even when ripe. A pod contains many edible seeds which can be consumed raw or toasted/roasted/boiled. Considered to be one of the more notable underappreciated tropical food crops.

Like many of the Bombacaceae species P. Glabra has a very fat trunk to store water. Just after germination the girth of the trunk becomes noticeable, almost disproportional to the rest of the tree.

In Brazil the Saba nut is a fruit tree, cultivated as an ornamental in south-eastern areas of the country.  It is not very frequent in its natural habitat, the pluvial Atlantic forests from Pernambuco to Rio de Janeiro and the flood plain forests of Para and Maranhao.

Moraceae, Artocarpus lakoocha, Monkey jack, Lakoocha, Emerald Jack, Pachoo Phanas (Bangalore), Badahar (Guyana), Selengking (Borneo)

This is the ripe orange bumpy fruit. I was unable to identify it for a long time, just recently found it in a book called  Fruits and Cultivated Exotics that I found at Fairchild Botanical Garden. The taste and texture are very interesting. Taste is tangy and slightly citrus-like. The texture is like that of unripe jackfruit only finer fibers, as a visitor to the site pointed out (see comments), similar to kiwi. I germinated a bunch of seed about five months ago. The small trees are just now about to surpass me in height. Supposedly the tree yields an excellent hardwood, said to be superior to Teak, useful for toolhandles and construction both above and below water. The trees I saw were not cultivated as a hardwood.

This photo was taken a month after transplanting the germinated seedlings, they are growing quickly. I'll take some up-to-date photos to upload today.

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.