It is delicious eaten fresh. The taste has been described as “butterscotch caramel.” The white, sweet, translucent flesh is enclosed by a tough, thin, yellow skin. The Abiu is tropical in its requirements, needing a moist, warm climate. Abiu is a smallish tree growing 12′ to 15′ tall, with longish, light green leaves. These baseball-sized fruits are round or can be slightly oblong (depending on the variety), growing green and then bright yellow when ripe. The best varieties are ‘GRAY’, ‘Z-1’, and ‘Z-2’, all selections from Queensland.
Acerola fruit has one of the highest natural amounts of ascorbic acid or vitamin C. One fruit will satisfy the daily adult requirement of vitamin C.The bright red, juicy, cherry-like fruits are abundant on the bush-like trees several times a year. The fruit is tart and makes an excellent jelly. Acerola is very adaptable and thrives with regular care and fertilization.
BANANA ’DWARF APPLE’
In Hawaii there are many varieties. The ‘Dwarf Apple’ is a popular fresh eating banana in Hawaii. Known for its tart, sweet flavor, thin skin and wind resistance, it is also the best banana to dry, as it does not brown in the process. It has a long shelf life.
Betel nut is the seed from a tall thin palm from Southeast Asia where the seed is chewed, wrapped in betel pepper leaf and smeared with lime. It acts as a gentle stimulant. Often clove, cinnamon, or cardamom is added for flavor. Ideal growing conditions are abundant moisture, slightly acid soil, and in the lowlands. Fertilize the trees regularly with a balanced fertilizer. The palm will begin to bear in about five years.
Is a relative of Carambola or Starfruit but is very different in taste, flavor, and appearance. The tree is attractive and grows to 10-15 feet. The flowers are small and fragrant and will emerge right on the trunk and oldest branches, followed by the pickle shaped tart fruits. They are similar in taste to a tart apple. The fruit is mostly used in curries, chutney, or jelly. Ripe fruit will only keep a few days after picking. The fruit is ready to pick when the skin changes from bright green to yellow-green.
The fruit, a close relative of the persimmon, is chocolate-colored with the texture of a soft peach. It is usually eaten fresh or mixed with lemon juice and honey to make a ‘mousse’ that is delicious & unique, or mix in with your next cheesecake. The tree can be grown up to 5,000 feet in elevation. It grows tall (up to 20’) in the lowlands and about half as tall when grown above 2,000’. The tree is native to Mexico and is one of their most popular fruits. It is a beautiful tree with large glossy green leaves and unusual flowers and takes about five to seven years to begin bearing.
There are several great varieties now grown in Hawaii at various elevations. The low-chill varieties produce an abundant amount of delicious berries much of the year. The bushes can reach 3-4 feet in height, with flowers and berries on the terminal branch ends. With cross pollination along with acid soil your Blueberries will produce a large tasty crop. Some low-chill recommended varieties are ‘Sharp Blue’ and ‘Emerald’.
The Brazilian Cherry is considered the best of the Eugenias. The skin is thin, firm and exudes dark-red juice. The white pulp is juicy and tastes much like a true sub-acid or sweet cherry. It is usually eaten fresh but can be made into jam, jelly and wine. The hardy, adaptable tree stays small and compact and fruits several times a year. It is sensitive to herbicide.
Breadfruit is an equatorial lowland species that grows best below elevations of 1,000 ft, but is found at elevations of 2,500 ft. Its preferred rainfall is 60–120 in. per year, and soils that are neutral to alkaline. ‘Ma’afala’ is the preferred variety, bearing quickly and consistently. Other varieties include ‘Apuapua’, ‘Io’Io’, and ‘Tahitian’. Breadfruit are excellent baked half-ripe in an oven, imu or BBQ. It can also be fried (after baking first) and prepared sweet as a dessert or as a savory starch. The Hawaiian staple food called poi made of mashed taro root is easily substituted or augmented with mashed ripe breadfruit.
Cacao seed is the basis for commercial chocolate or cocoa. It is native to Central America and was sacred to the Aztecs. The scientific name means ‘Drink of the Gods.’ The tree produces football-shaped pods about 8” long directly on the trunk and branches. They are ready to pick when the skin turns either red or yellow (depending on variety). Inside are large numerous (20 to 50) seeds covered with a white fruity pulp. The cacao tree is a small (10’-12’) evergreen that grows best with high humidity, deep rich soil, and at least 60 inches of rain per year. Cacao prefers the lowlands below 2,000 feet. Young trees require partial shade until they are at least four feet tall and can be interplanted with bananas or palms.
Cardamom spice is the seed in the flower pods from a tall willowy ginger. The orchid-like flowers are small and on stalks that usually trail along the ground. The spice is used in flavoring curries, coffee, cakes, bread, and other sweets. It is also used in perfumes, to flavor liqueurs, and medicinally as a stimulant. It grows well in our tropical rain forest climate. The plants should begin to produce flowers in about three years. The leaves die back in the winter and emerge each spring.
Cinnamon is mainly used in baked goods, drinks, incense, and perfumes, and is a wonderful tea for a cough. The bark of the smaller branches is the part used to make the spice cinnamon. Cinnamon can be grown easily in Hawaii with adequate rainfall. Cinnamon trees are very sensitive to herbicides. Do not use herbicides around the trees; mulch is a better weed control for this tree.
The developing flower bud is dried and used as the spice. Cloves are used whole for studding ham and pork, in pickles, and in hot spiced drinks. Ground clove is used in many baked sweets. The trees and leaves are very fragrant. The clove, believed to be a native of Indonesia, is a beautiful and graceful tree, with stellar pink and yellow new leaves all year round. Cloves are slow-growing trees that do best on deep volcanic soils with abundant rainfall and good drainage.
Hawaii’s coffee is considered by many to have the finest flavor in the world as well. Coffee is native to tropical Africa and is grown for its berries which are picked and processed to produce a dried seed and processed into coffee. Coffee is a dark green, handsome small tree, growing to 15 feet unpruned. Many commercial trees are kept at half that height. All ‘Kona Coffee’ is C. arabica. There is a dwarf C. arabica called ‘Cattura.’ It is a highly productive tree with high quality beans. There is also a ‘Coffee grandis,’ which is a large tree with large leaves, flowers, and berries, and has been used to make instant coffee.
The ‘Curry Leaf’ is a thick bush or small tree with small leaves. It is grown primarily in southern India for its aromatic leaves, an essential ingredient in Madras curry powder. The leaves can be used fresh or dried in the oven and then quick frozen. The plant bears clusters of attractive white flowers with purple fragrant seeds developing afterward. It grows easily here with adequate water and regular fertilization. It is an attractive bush and can be kept small next to an herb garden.
Figs are delicious and easy to grow. Figs are eaten fresh, made into preserves, cakes and dessert fillings. The small deciduous trees grow in most areas of Hawaii. The fruit is borne on the new flush several times a year. Do not be alarmed when the tree loses its leaves in the winter, new growth and fruit will appear soon after.
One improved variety is ‘Brown Turkey’ which has a purplish brown fruit with a pink flesh and is of the closed-end types (self-pollinating). ‘Brown Turkey’ has a low spreading habitat. ’White Kadota’ has a more upright, vigorous tree. The fruit is a rich amber flesh with a pale green skin. ’White Kadota’ is an excellent tasting all-purpose fig.
There are many varieties of guavas. Flavors range from sweet to acid, with the acid varieties grown for juice and processing, and the sweet varieties for fresh eating. The trees are very vigorous and can be grown virtually anywhere in Hawaii. For commercial production, or backyard harvesting guava trees need to be pruned. Dessert guavas include the ‘Philippine Swirl’ a fragrant and sweet selection of pink and white swirled flesh. The tree is somewhat willowy. ‘Ruby x Supreme’ is a sweet rich pink variety, with high flesh recovery, selected at Waiakea. ‘White Indonesian’ is a delicious, white fleshed high quality eating variety.
Songs are written and sung above love beneath the Jaboticaba tree, native to Brazil. The trees are slow growing and stay about 15‘ in Hawaii. The round purple fruit are borne directly on the trunk and branches. The fruit is sweet and delicious, somewhat like a ‘Concord Grape’. The skin is a bit tough. The trees bear fruit several times a year. The fruit makes excellent jelly (the best I’ve ever had!) and a great wine.
There are 2 types available in Hawaii. The small fruited type, fruits about one inch, is called ‘Murta’. The large fruited type, fruit almost two inches is called ‘Paulista’.
The large fruits weigh from 10 to40 pounds or more and are borne on the trunk and branches. The thick pulp covering each seed is sweet and either eaten fresh or prepared in curries and soups or dried (resembling dried bananas) Jakfruit does not require special care but prefers the lowlands (below 1,800 feet), well-drained soils, and some fertilization. The trees are large, but can be shaped, so give them plenty of room. Two popular cultivars are ‘Black Gold’ a firm fleshed tasty large fruit and ‘Ziman Pink’ a “dwarf” cultivar with smaller roundish fruits with delicious flavor.
Langsat is a very popular fresh eating Philippine fruit also known as ‘Lansone’. Beneath the tan skin, the small fruit is divided into a few segments of translucent, juicy flesh. The flesh is slightly acid/sweet in taste. The fruit is borne in clusters off the trunk and branches of the tree. The tree is tropical in requirements and should be grown in the lower elevations.
Longans are usually eaten fresh but are also dried, canned, or made into delicious dessert sauces and sorbets. It is a delicious, juicy fruit with a very sweet flavor, and a single seed. It is a large spreading tree which is easily managed with annual pruning. It produces best below 2000’. ‘Biew Kiew’ is a popular commercial variety. It has large sweet fruit, bears well and has a good shelf life. ‘Sri Champoo’ is another recommended variety. It has large beautiful, sweet fruit, but not the shelf life of the ‘Biew Kiew’.
The loquat fruit is juicy and firm with a mild sweet taste. When ripe the fruit is bright yellow and has an easy to peel thin velvety skin. It is delicious eaten fresh and can also be prepared in many ways, including jams, preserves, cake fillings, and served in fruit salads. The tree is vigorous, enjoying most locations here but fruits best in the upslope areas. Loquat can fruit several times a year. There are two improved cultivars available ‘Golden Nugget’ and ‘Mammoth’.
Lychee is one of Hawaii’s most popular fruits. The season is short and the red sweet fruit is savored by everyone. The Lychee is fresh out of hand but can be dried or used in desserts. The large beautiful trees thrive in a moist rocky soil and little fertilizer once they reach fruiting age. Lychee need to be protected from strong winds, and can be easily managed in height and shape with annual pruning after harvest. There are several popular varieties that do well here. The ‘B-3’ is very sweet and has a reddish orange skin. It is a consistent bearer, coming into fruit around July after the ‘Kaimana’ season. ‘Emperor’ is a very large fruit, late in the season and the tree is compact. ‘Groff’ is a late-season, small fruit with ‘chicken tongue’ or undeveloped seed. The ‘Kaimana’ is the most popular cultivar because of its consistent bearing habits and high fruit quality. The large fruits are ripe between May and July.
Macadamia Nut, native to Queensland are delicious and easy to grow in Hawaii. The trees produce well with minimum care. There are several selected varieties for Hawaii. ‘344’ or ‘Kau’ has large, high quality nuts along with high productivity. It is one of the most popular commercial cultivar in Hawaii. ‘741’ or ‘Mauka’ is another high quality and very productive nut.
The fruit’s flavor is variously described as a delicious combination of pumpkin, sweet potato, and maraschino cherries. The fruit’s texture is creamy and sweet. A mamey sapote is ripe when the flesh is orange when a fleck of the skin is removed. Two cultivars are available. ‘Magana’ is a large football-shaped fruit, and ‘Pantin’ a large round fruit. The trees have a spreading habit and grow best under 2000’.
The “Queen of Fruits,” Mangosteen is a round, purple-brown, smooth, thick-skinned fruit. The fruit is apple-sized, white fleshed and considered the most delicious fruit in the world. The slow growing trees require tropical conditions, needing plenty of moisture and protection from wind. The trees take between 7-12 years to fruit, depending on care and location.
Miracle berry is a slow growing, small upright bush, easily grown in a container. The miracle is that acidic things you eat will taste sweet for an hour or so after eating the small red miracle berry. After eating a miracle berry, a lemon will taste like lemonade.
Mountain Apple, whether the ‘Red’ or ‘White’ variety, are delicious fresh eating fruits and grown easily in most backyards. The trees can get large and produce abundant fruit several times a year. The ‘Red’ variety is easier to market as it does not show blemishes to the skin. The ‘White’ variety will turn slightly pink if left on the tree until fully ripe. The flowers appear directly on the trunk and branches and soon fall, carpeting the ground a beautiful crimson red or snow white.
The abundant fruit of this fantastic tree is about one inch long, dark purple when ripe, sweet and tasty. The fruit is delicious eaten fresh and can easily be made into jams, pie fillings or colorfully added to a fruit salad. The trees thrive in most locations here and can be maintained in bush fashion with ease. They fruit more abundantly after each trimming, as the berry is borne on the new growth.
NUTMEG / MACE
Nutmeg is a beautiful tall tree. The yellow husk of the nutmeg splits open to reveal the mahogany seed surrounded by a crimson lace coating. The brilliant red coating is the spice Mace. Within the rich brown shell is the precious Nutmeg. The tree is tropical and does beautifully in the moist areas of the state.
Pak Lan or Michelia alba is a large flowering tree cultivated for its immensely fragrant blossoms. The profuse flowers are highly prized. Both the flowers and leaves are highly aromatic and can be used in fragrance production. On a warm humid night, the scents can be enjoyed several hundred feet away. The tree has long flowering season, up to six months.
Passionfruits are vigorous vines, producing abundant stunning flowers and great eating fruit. ‘Lilikoi’ or the ‘Yellow Passionfruit’ is the most common of the passionfruits in Hawaii. It is most often used as a juice and is rich and acidic. It also makes excellent jellies and dessert toppings. ‘Purple Passionfruit’ is a sweet fresh eating variety that prefers some shade. ‘Jamaican Passionfruit’ is a soft skinned orange variety with a sweet flavor. The ‘Orange Passionfruit’ has a hard orange skin and sweet juice. The ‘Giant Granadilla’ or Giant Passionfruit is shade-loving with large flowers and football sized fruit. It is not a flavorful as the other varieties.
The pepper vine can be easily grown in Hawaii under the light shade of a tree or in a container with a trellis. It is attractive, prolific, everbearing, and one of the most useful spices. Berries can be picked green, pink or red and dried to turn black.
‘Sugarloaf’, a sweet white Pineapple has melting white flesh, and a soft edible core. They are extremely sweet and rich in flavor. Pineapples are easy to grow and harvest. The fruit is ripe in August and September.
Puakenikeni flowers are amazingly fragrant and popular as lei flowers. The tree is small and spreading and the flowers are plentiful much of the year. Puakenikeni in Hawaiian translation means “ten cent flower”, which they sold for in the 1930’s when first introduced to Hawaii.
Pulasan is closely related to rambutan. The fruit is generally sweeter than rambutan and has a berry like flavor. Instead of soft hairs like rambutan, the fruit has soft short ‘spines’. It is tropical in it requirements, growing best out of the wind with a warm moist climate.
Rollinia deliciosa is a fast-growing Annona from tropical America. It is a medium-sized tree of less than 15 feet in height, and bears within 3 years with proper care. The sweet delicious custard-like fruit is best eaten fresh or made into a smoothie.
The fruit, contrary to its name, is sweet. It is eaten fresh or chilled and is often made into a juice. The juice can be mixed with wine or brandy. The small tree bears the large fruit directly on the trunk and large branches.
The trees are very beautiful, growing quite large and willowy. The glossy leaves have golden undersides that make the trees worthy just for their appearance. The fruit is about the size of a baseball with five small seeds which appear as a star when the fruit is cut. The white flesh is sweet and delicious. The ‘Green Star Apple’ is very sweet with a green skin. The ‘Haitian Star Apple’ has a deep purple skin and the flesh is sweet and smooth.
The Starfruit is beautiful, easy to grow, early bearing tree. The yellow, star-shaped fruit are abundant, juicy and sweet. The Starfruit is usually eaten fresh, with the skin and is often used as a beautiful garnish or palate cleanser. ‘B-10’ bears large dense and delicious fruit. ‘Kajang’ bears large sweet fruit, but fewer, so there is little visual damage on them. ‘Kari’ is the most prolific and is self pollinating and a good pollinator for the other varieties
The trees or bushes are easy to grow and maintain. They make an attractive hedge with the small leaves turning from pink to red to green. The cherry-sized, pumpkin-shaped fruits are excellent, high in Vitamin C, and are used in jams, jellies, and pies.
The root of the Turmeric is one of the key ingredients for many savory Asian and Indian dishes. It is also used in ice creams, cakes, biscuits, sauces, etc. The plant is easy to grow. It loses its foliage in the winter, as some gingers do. The leaves will grow back in the spring. The Hawaiian name is ‘Olena’.
Vanilla is produced from the bean pod of a vigorous climbing orchid vine. Extract from the true vanilla bean is very expensive and has a pure a delicate flavor, used in ice creams, cakes, candy, eggnog, etc. Production of the ‘pod’ is extremely increased with hand pollination. Vanilla is also available in a beautiful ‘Variegated’ form.
Wampi is a small and tart yellow fruit borne in clusters. It is usually eaten out of hand or made into jam or a refreshing drink. It is considered in both Thailand and Southern China as one of the finest fruits.
White Sapote fruit has creamy white flesh with a sweet pear-banana-peach flavor. The round, green skinned, baseball-sized fruit is delicious eaten fresh. ‘Denzler’ is a variety with a longer than average shelf life. ‘Suebelle’ is a slightly larger fruit with some ‘stone cells’ near the skin. Grows and produces well upslope.
The Magnolia is a stately, beautiful shade and flowering tree. It is striking with its large dark green leaves and contrasting huge white fragrant flowers. The flowers bloom throughout the spring and summer attracting bees from everywhere it seems.