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?