Category Archives: Fruit

An Angular Avocado?

Avocado (Persea americana) Puzzle:

Has anyone come across a variety of avocado (Persea americana ) that is ridged or has slightly flattened areas running lengthwise on the fruit? I got two from a local market with stickers reading ‘Produce of the Dominican Republic’.

Skin green when ripe, a bit of a yellowish tinge. Smooth and is not particularly pebbled. Seems like the West Indian type or line. Flavor was poor but that was due to the one I ate being about to go over ripe, the photographs show the other which was too ripe to eat. Oddly the second one seemed to go bad from the center out (could this be a symptom of a particular fungus or of being harvested too young?).

Seeds smallish and very pebbly. Planting the seeds to see what I get.

It was easy to feel the flattened areas and they show some in the cross section image. All the avocados in the bin had this characteristic and I do not believe it was from packing or other mechanical injury. A third photo shows some growing in the Dominican Republic that may be what I bought. Photo was captioned: Avocado tree, Villa mella.








Warm Plants in Containers – Part I

Chances are that anyone looking at this site, or any of my other sites, has grown a plant of some sort in a container. I suspect that the most common food plant so grown is the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum (or maybe it will revert back to Lycopersicum esculentum). What I wanted to do here was to get you to think about the possibilities of growing other, less common plants in containers. While there are hundreds you might try, I want to start with three of varying degrees of hardiness. Three that I have seen produce fruit in containers.
Of these three plants the third needs the most cold protection and all can produce container plants that are pretty as well as providing fruit. It does need to be noted though that depending on the conditions most containerized fruits produce less than a plant in the ground.

Warm Plants in Containers – I Goji
Goji, goji berry or wolfberry is the fruit of Lycium barbarum or Lycium chinense, two closely related species of boxthorn in the Solanaceae Family. They tend to be Anthropogenic, favoring man-made or disturbed habitats and in some areas might become a pest if not contained. The plant is a liana (a woody plant with a vine-like growth form) or may be a shrub (a woody plant with several stems growing from the base).
Lycium barbarum is native to southeastern Europe and Asia. Lycium chinense is a native of China. Frequently the berries of both are sold simply as Goji. Very cold tolerant plants, they may be found as far north in the USA as Mane and Vermont. Goji growing in hot sunny regions may do better with some afternoon shade. Remember that Goji is deciduous and it is normal for them to drop their leaves in winter.

Small plants might come in a smaller container but your final size should be about 18 inches across and as deep as the average 5 gallon bucket so that the plant can grow to a nice size and have some weight from the soil to prevent toppling. (Yes, you can grow them in something smaller if you want, over time you will have to prune them a bit more to keep the size in proportion to the container). Use a potting mix that has a pH of 6.8 – 8.1 and provides good drainage. Do not use containers without drain holes as this increases the risk of root rot – sit containers in a shallow saucer if you need to protect a deck or floor. A good potting mix is 1/3 sand to 2/3 organics. (Compost works well as do several of the commercial potting mixes).

You can grow as a bush or add a trellis and train the plant upwards. Prune when young to encourage some branching and to create the shape you desire. When older the only pruning needed is to maintain the shape you desire. From the plant’s appearance they might also make attractive Bonsai subjects.editwolfberries_on_vine

Growing From Seed

Every year billions of seeds are planted – mostly for annual crops. Seeds are also planted for perennial crops but it seems that when it comes to most fruit, growing from seed is discouraged. Why is this?

The majority of popular tree crops are budded or grafted. The lower portion, the roots were produced from seed but at a young age the upper portion was replaced through grafting or budding with a specific variety selected by the grower. This gives a great degree of consistency and when you buy a Knight avocado or Hamlin orange it is the same as every other Knight or Hamlin – all originating from the first Knight or Hamlin that was produced by planting a seed.

Most plants produce seeds by sexual means – pollen (consider pollen the male element) is transferred to the female element of a flower (pistil) and the resulting seed contains genetic material from both parents. The seed is unique as to the DNA it contains. When planted many trees and plants go through a juvenile stage where growth and not flowering is prime. This juvenile stage may take over a decade depending on the species and conditions it is grown under. When the plant finally flowers and produces fruit the yield may be smaller (at times inferior in taste) for the first years. The final fruit may range anything from better than the parent to nearly inedible due to off flavor or other attributes. It seems that some species are noted for rarely producing better individuals from seed while others are more accommodating to growers.

Does the above make you want to plant a seed? Chances are no. BUT…

Growing from seed can be very rewarding as the finished plant is unique in several ways from the parents. Growers may practice careful selection of parents or parents fruit characteristics, control pollination and other factors in their quest to get the plant to produce a seed that is superior to the parent in any number of specific areas. Sometimes just planting a seed from a fruit you got at the market or grove produces a wonderful surprise, sometimes a valuable surprise.

There are there are hundreds of thousands of cultivars of various food plants but the only way to get a NEW one is by planting a seed and waiting to see what it produces. If what it produces is improved enough you then name it as a new variety.
What if it is not? Not superior in the way you planned? It may have another superior attribute that needs to be found. It was an experiment – and even if the results were not what you ‘wanted’ something was learned. You can, the majority of times graft a high quality fruit onto the existing roots of the plant.

(Now here is a secret, this seed stuff is all genetics. Genetics looks confusing to many but is based on some simple principals and while there is need for thinking out a genetic experiment there is little heavy mental lifting involved once you have the general rules in your head).

One thing about rarefruiters is that they are always pushing the boundary, always looking for something new. Why not try planting some seeds and see if you can produce a new variety? You might name it after your spouse, child or someone you admire.

If you want to know more about growing from seeds and attempting to produce seeds that will be different in ways you desire I highly recommend the book by Carol Deppe. Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener’s and Farmer’s Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving – while directed mostly to annuals it provides an outstanding explanation of the process and provides more well presented, understandable information than many college courses might. This should link to the current edition:

Pushing Jabotacaba – Plinia cauliflora


by Bob G Cannon II

Plinia cauliflora, Jabuticaba is a small fruit-bearing tree native to the states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo in southeastern Brazil. It is a member of the Myrtaceae Family. Jaboticaba is cauliflorous in habit – with flowers and fruit forming on the trunk and major branches. When in heavy flower a tree can appear as if the branches are covered in snow – later the branches are covered with deep purple/black fruits similar to a large grape in size.

Other common names include: Brazilian Grape Tree, Jabotica, Jabuticabeira, Guaperu, Guapuru, Hivapuru, Sabará and Yvapurũ. Related species in the genus Myrciaria, often referred to locally by the same common name, are native to Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru and Bolivia. Growing in popularity as a dooryard fruit the Jaboticaba and its relatives remain rare due to the limited availability of plants and the fact that it cannot withstand freezing. Since the fruit is pleasant tasting it is much sought after by growers and collectors.

The Jaboticaba has a reputation of being somewhat slow of growth and slow to bear fruit. A fellow collector showed me his method to produce plants that not only grew faster but produced fruit sooner. In the late 1990’s I was visiting fellow rarefruiter Ron ‘Mango Ron‘ Hensley and this is the method he taught me with plants growing in containers sized from a few inches tall to over 4 foot. The larger plants (3-4ft) had some fruit in season. All were ungrafted seedlings.

The plants were grown in plastic pots in a soil free potting mix similar to several available commercially. Each pot was placed into a saucer that extended 2 to 3 inches from the base of the pots. Ron would water frequently and then fill the saucers with water each day. Ron also said that sometimes in summer he filled the saucers twice in a day. (Ron let the saucers become dry between filling). Plants not so treated exhibited the ‘normal’ slow growth pattern while saucered plants all showed more growth and started fruiting at a younger age. Fertilizer was used on plants under both conditions as needed.


You might want to try this yourself with Jaboticaba if you are growing them.


Just What Is Rare


Just What IS a Rare Fruit

“What is a rare fruit?” Now this is a question I have been asked many times over the decades. In truth, there is no simple answer.

Apple trees (Malus pumila, Malus domestica) are ‘rare’ in Borneo and Kenya, while you will only see a mangosteen tree (Garcinia mangostana) in France or Canada in a glasshouse. Thanks to our modern shipping you might find the fruit from these trees in almost any location, it having arrived by sea or air. The well known orange (Citrus × sinensis) only grows unprotected in certain areas of the world – yet I would guess that all of my readers have eaten an orange, or had orange products of some sort. Meanwhile, the durian (Durio zibethinus), while wildly popular with many millions of people, grows only in certain tropical areas, and few outside those areas have seen the fruit in their market or tasted a product containing durian.

So, is the orange ‘rare’? Is the durian? I guess it is relative.

I don’t think there can be an exact definition of ‘rare’ but if we are going to discuss ‘rare’ fruit and plants there should be some general definition for us to use.

To be considered rare (no more quotes for ‘rare’!) the plant should fit most of these qualifications:

1 – Not easily available worldwide.

2 – Not easily recognizable out of its native area.

3 – Not widely consumed out of its native area.

4 – Not widely grown out of its native area.

5 – Not widely known as edible* out of its native area.

6 – Not easy to grow out of its native area.

7 – Unusual or unique in some other way.

8 – Has a limited area where it can be produced.

(*edible for this post includes both food and medicinal uses)

Eight points that might be applied as a test to fruits and plants to help distinguish them as rare.

The orange does not really meet any of the points for most people regardless of their location. Although #8 comes a bit close since without protection from cold many groves would succumb to low temperatures.

The sugarapple (Annona squamosa) meets 1, 2, 3, 4 & 8 – possibly more. Even though a close relative is widely grown in the US, Australia and elsewhere (A. cherimola) sugar apples look just different enough that many would not recognize them as edible.

Pummelo rare (Citrus maxima, Citrus grandis)? Ignoring folks that think they are a giant grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi) I would say yes. It meets 1, 2, 6 & 7.

Miraculous Fruit, Miracle Fruit, (Synsepalum dulcificum) rare? Meets 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8. Many people have experienced the effects – through a tablet form but not all that many have held a fruit or grow the plant.

What do you think dear readers? Would you change my points or add to them?