Fruit Trees of the Philippines
The Philippines is a series of islands in southeast Asia, east of Vietnam. The terrain is mostly mountainous, according to the CIA World Factbook, with tropic and subtropic temperatures. Deforestation is a large problem in the country. In 1900, nearly 70 percent of the country was forested. When surveyed in 1999, the percentage of forested land had dropped to around 18 percent. One of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, according to Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage, the Philippines is home to many unique fruit-bearing trees.
Mangosteens, Garcinia mangostana, are tropical evergreen trees native to southeast Asia and grown in the Philippines. Growing between 20 and 80 feet tall, the mangosteen tree produces an edible fruit. The rind of the fruit is green while growing, turning a dark reddish-purple to signal the fruit is mature and ripe. The ripening process takes about 10 days, and is marked by a softening of the rind. Mangosteen trees need consistently warm conditions--temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit have been known to kill fully mature, established plants. Though they prefer warm humid climates, mangosteen trees recover from brief cold spells with minimal damage. Young trees need partial shade, while established trees thrive in full sun. Mangosteen trees prefer rich, well-drained soil of an acidic nature.
Soursop, Annona muricata, is not native to Asia, instead hailing from Central and South America. Despite its origins, the soursop tree is grown widely throughout the Philippines as a source of fruit. Known in the Philippines as the guyabano, this bushy, full tree reaches heights of 25 to 30 feet. The fruit, which is produced from June through September, is yellow and covered in a leathery, spiny outer rind. The interior of the fruit is white and juicy, bearing the slight aroma of pineapple and strawberries. The flavor is likened to a light banana flavor with sharp citrus notes. Soursop trees grow best in deep, rich soil that is well drained and slightly dry.
The jatropha tree, or physic nut, is known scientifically as Jatropha curcas. It grows as a small evergreen tree, reaching heights of 20 feet tall under optimal conditions. The tree is marked by large green leaves and yellow flowers. The fruit of the jatropha tree is toxic, causing severe abdominal pain and nausea. While not viable as a food crop, this fruit tree is used for the oils it produces. The oils of the jatropha tree are used in candle and soap making, livestock feed and are under consideration as a source of biodiesel as of the year 2010. Jatropha trees grow in almost any climate under any terrain--hey are incredibly drought tolerant, despite their tropic and subtropic origins.
- " Handy Pocket Guide to Tropical Fruits"; Wendy Hutton, Alberto Cassio; 2004
- Purdue University Department of Horticulture: Soursop
- Purdue University Department of Horticulture: Mangosteen
- Purdue University Department of Horticulture: Jatropha Curcas
- London Times: Poison Plant Could Help Cure The Planet