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Plants for mediterranean gardens => Fruit and Vegetables => Topic started by: John J on August 31, 2012, 05:13:46 AM

Title: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on August 31, 2012, 05:13:46 AM
The mangos available at most greengrocers in London seem to come from Brazil and are very often stringy. Our Indian friends swear by the Alphonso variety and I agree with Pamela that these are superb - sweet, juicy and without fibres. However they might not be suitable for cultivation in the Med.

John, do you grow all the other exotic fruit-trees you mention?
I wish, Alice!! I'm afraid these are all from our time in Singapore/Malaysia. The only one I've tried here is the Carica papaya, though so far, without success. It will grow in Cyprus as you come across it from time to time in other's gardens. The fruit they produce are very much smaller than the ones we got in Singapore, however. I am experimenting at the moment with one of the Custard-apples a Cherimoya (Annona cherimola) but the tree is only a couple of years old so it could be a long time before anything happens, if ever. I have heard that there is someone on the island who is growing Lychee (Litchi chinensis) but I haven't got around to tracking them down yet.
Do other Forum members have any success in growing, or attempting to grow, unusual or exotic fruits?
Title: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: pamela on August 31, 2012, 08:21:13 AM
This is my list of planted fruits and vines although some are small trees/plants not yet fruiting eg kiwifruit, mango, avocado, I have patience.........!

Actinidia chinensis( Kiwifruit )
Citrus x paradisi (Grapefruit)
Citrus limon (Lemon)
Diospyros kaki( Kaki)
D. kaki (Sharon)
Eriobotrya japonica (Nispero)
Ficus carica   
Acca sellowiana (feijoa)
Vitis vinifera Chasselas
                     Muscat de Hambourg
Mangifera indica ‘Osteen’
Morus alba Pendula
Punica granatum (Pomegranate)
Persea americana (Avocado)
Psidium guineense (Brazilian Guava)
Physalis edulis (Cape gooseberry)

Title: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Alisdair on August 31, 2012, 02:01:50 PM
The mangos available at most greengrocers in London seem to come from Brazil and are very often stringy. Our Indian friends swear by the Alphonso variety and I agree with Pamela that these are superb - sweet, juicy and without fibres. However they might not be suitable for cultivation in the Med.

John, do you grow all the other exotic fruit-trees you mention?
You can find the full context of this question from Alice, which started off this Exotic fruit trees thread, in the separate Mango (http://www.mgsforum.org/smf/index.php?topic=998.0) discussion.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on August 31, 2012, 03:47:36 PM
Pamela, your list prompted me to take a look at what we currently grow. The usual suspects, of course:
Olive
Grapefruit
Orange
Mandarin
Lemon
Pomelo
Bergamot - small tree, not yet producing.
Bitter orange - we don't make marmalade but the flowers are used for a traditional 'glyko' (sweet).
Fig
Pomegranate
Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)
Mulberry  - the leaves also feed the silkworms.
Vines - of unknown provenance but the grapes are small and sweet.

Slightly more unusual;
Opuntia (Prickly pear)
Passionfruit
Plums - unknown varieties
Apples - unknown varieties
Eleagnus angustifolia - quite popular with some Cypriots, especially among the older generations. An acquired taste that I haven't acquired!

Even more unusual;
Acca sellowiana
Strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum)
Guava
Medlar (Mespilus germanica)
Mango
Kiwi - young plant yet to produce.
Cherimoya - young plant yet to produce.
Avocado - 2 young trees yet to produce and 1 very large one, 12 years old, grown from seed that has never produced a single fruit but is kept for decorative and sentimental reasons.

In the nut category;
Almond
Pecan
Walnut - young tree not yet produced.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Alisdair on August 31, 2012, 07:25:37 PM
Gosh, you know how to make us jealous, John!  :P
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Jill S on August 31, 2012, 11:29:30 PM
Good heavens, certainly a case for 'ENVY'
John, do you also have silk worms? do they produce viable silk thread?, or do you balk at having to destroy the 'worm' to get a useful product? which I've always thought rather counter-productive.
Jill
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on September 01, 2012, 10:28:19 AM
I believe silk production in Cyprus dates back to Byzantine times though it was probably at its height during the Lusignan/Venetian period. By the mid 20th C it had been reduced to a cottage industry and when I first set foot on the island in 1967 it can possibly best be described as a hobby.
The practice of boiling the cocoons to kill their occupants, though apparently cruel, is necessary. If left to develop they eat their way out of the cocoon leaving a hole thus severing the thread and preventing it from being removed in one continuous piece. Some were allowed to do this to provide the next generation and the spoiled cocoons were cut and shaped to make pictures, as in the photo below. I took this photo probably around 40 years ago and it is not very clear so the detail is not obvious but it's the only one I could find.
Before she retired my wife was a Primary School teacher. She grew silkworms every year from the eggs onwards as part of the science lessons for the children. The minute worms hatched at the same time as the mulberry was beginning to put out fresh new growth. Nowadays she occasionally obtains a few eggs from a friend and grows them on just for the nostalgia value, I guess. Certainly not in the vast quantities needed to produce viable thread. Also, when our grandson's class at school were learning about 'mini-beasts' she grew some for his teacher to have in the classroom as an example.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Jill S on September 01, 2012, 10:56:18 AM
Lovely art work John. The reason I asked about the silk worms was that your mention of them reminded me of a very long, hot, summer many years ago when I was weaving a length of silk. It took me ages, in fact over six weeks, and I wasn't particularly slow, and the loom was in a cleared attic space which made it even hotter. It was worth it as the finished length was, and still is, rather nice, but even then I did wonder about all the worms that had been killed to provide the thread. Cotton, wool and linen are kinder (but not as nice as silk!)
Jill
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: MikeHardman on September 03, 2012, 07:47:11 AM
Yes - lovely, John.
And interesting story.
And wow to your list of fruit!
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Guenther on September 27, 2012, 01:31:59 AM
I believe fruits of Morus nigra has a better taste than of Morus alba.

Perhaps:
Pawpaw (Asimina papau)
Arbutus unedo
Anacardium occidentale
Cassia fistula

I believe, there is no problem with:
Pistacia vera
Coryllus avellana (Hazelnuts)
Juniperus
Cornus mas
Ceratonia siliqua
Castanea sativa
Phoenix dactylifera


Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: pamela on September 27, 2012, 07:48:18 AM
I entirely agree Guenther,  Morus nigra are far, far better in flavour than Morus alba.  We ate them in during many summers on the Island of Gozo some years ago.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on October 13, 2012, 10:01:48 AM
As a sort of follow-up to this thread. I was picking some of the ripe fruit this morning and thought I'd take photos to illustrate a few of the ones I mentioned earlier. We have;

Acca sellowiana (Pineapple guava)
Psidium cattleianum (Strawberry guava)
Mespilus germanica (Medlar)
Psidium guavaja (Guava)
Pomelo
Pomegranate
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: MikeHardman on October 13, 2012, 12:11:24 PM
Very nice; well done.
We'll have to call you farmer John!
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: ritamax on October 13, 2012, 06:24:51 PM
That is absolutely fantastic! Is Guava easy to grow? I read that somewhere in the tropical climates it is considered invasive. Acca sellowiana seems to be suitable to mediterranean climate. How does the fruit taste and does it take long before it fruits?
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on October 14, 2012, 09:45:26 AM
Rita, I have found guava (Psidium guajava) easy to grow, very undemanding. Like the majority of our fruit trees it is on drip irrigation that is turned on twice a week during the hottest months. Apart from the fruit the tree is worth growing in its own right. The flowers are beautiful, as typifies the myrtle family, and the trunk is attractive with its peeling bark.
The Pineapple guava (Acca sellowiana) I grew from seed bought from Chiltern Seeds in UK about 14/15 years ago. From, I seem to remember, 7 germinations I kept 4. Again, they are well worth growing for their ornamental value. Mine have been kept as rather sprawling bushes but I have seen them growing as medium-sized trees on the boundary of one of the Cyprus Agriculture Departments Research Farms. They are reasonably drought-tolerant, moisture-tolerant, salt-tolerant enough to be grown in coastal areas and unfussy about soil type. Stunning flowers with slightly fleshy petals that are edible and can be added as an unusual decoration to fruit salads. My bushes took about 5 years to fruit and now produce far more than we can possibly eat. It's hard to tell when they are ripe as they don't undergo any colour change. I believe the recognised method of harvesting is to shake the plant and collect what falls off. I find the taste difficult to describe. The ripe fruit are initially sweet with a flesh that can have a slightly 'gritty' texture and they have an unusual aftertaste. This I find a little sharp, but not unpleasant, possibly akin to that experienced with pineapple. I read somewhere that it was like wintergreen. Anyway, I can thoroughly recommend growing Acca either for the fruit or simply for ornamental reasons.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: ritamax on October 15, 2012, 10:06:58 AM
Thank you, John, for the detailed informations! I read, that feijoa needs a cold spell in winter to flower and fruit well and that the guava is dislikes salinity. I did actually try a homemade sugary feijoa jam once in the former Soviet Union in the 1980's and the taste was exquisite. Those feijoas probably came from the former Soviet republic Georgia. 
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on October 15, 2012, 01:56:10 PM
I don't know how cold a cold spell is but my Acca (Feijoa) down here on the southern coast of Cyprus rarely get anywhere near to 0 degrees C, even at night. They flower and fruit pretty well even so. Maybe our Antipodean colleagues can correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that New Zealand is a major grower of these fruit.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: ritamax on October 15, 2012, 06:01:23 PM
Good to know, we have similar conditions, no frosts. I just read, that feijoa comes from highlands and that for good flowering it would ideally need 100-200 hours of chill, the flowering and the fruit flavour under 50 hours of chill being poorer.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: pamela on November 02, 2012, 11:02:38 PM
John you are right New Zealand is a major gower of Feijoa (Acca sellowiana) although I think it originates in either Chile or Peru.
Many New Zealand households have a tree in their garden but the fruit there is much bigger and juicier than I can grow in Spain.  It is totally delicious with a wonderful scent and be eaten raw and cooked (mainly stewed). It doesnt travel well for export as it is subject to a brown spot.  You must eat it when it is just soft to press.   Peel the skin and then eat the delicious fruit. I was brought up on them together with Kiwifruit. It needs a frost or two. My cousin grew them for export on the hills around Lake Rotorua, where frosts abound in winter. Hers were delicious. She tells me they are heavy feeders and need manure (NZ has plenty of that!) several times a year.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Umbrian on November 03, 2012, 07:38:36 AM
Not sure if this posting should be here or under a new heading, most likely here  :-\ I am shortly to "inherit" a quite large Diospyros kaki and have never found the fruit very palatable. Any tips on when they are best eaten and how? Also the tree has been left to its own devices for quite a long time I think and needs a bit of remedial pruning, when is the best time to do this? The lower branches hang down beautifully but I have noticed several new vertical branches that not only spoil the overall shape of the tree but will also make it too large if allowed to continue.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Alice on November 03, 2012, 02:23:07 PM
Concerning the fruit of exotic trees: we have noticed that guavas (the fruit of Psidium guajava) seem to attract the Mediterranean fruit fly. Have other forum members had similar experiences with exotic fruit, especially ones with heady aromas?
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: pamela on November 03, 2012, 07:53:26 PM
Carol, I have 2 D.kaki.The first is the old fashioned Japanese'Hachiya' variety about the size and shape of a large peach but must be eaten when very soft and when the skin is splitting. If it is semi-soft, it is furry and astringent and it is usually this taste that people dont like.  The second is similar to the Israeli cultivar 'Sharon' Fruit which I am sure you have seen in UK supermarkets over the years. This can be eaten while crisp and is not astringent.  They are so pretty now with all the golden fruit hanging on the branches. They like cold weather,too. My friend in Milan grows them..so they should be excellent for you.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: David Bracey on November 07, 2012, 10:16:39 AM
Kakis are best left on the tree as long as possible so that they are truly ripe and the skins are splitting-  Always eat the flesh with a spoon and never eat the skin.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: pamela on November 11, 2012, 05:54:02 PM
'never eat the skin'   The skin on our Kaki is so fragile you dont know you are eating it.  Is there a reason for not eating the skin? I am intrigued...
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: David Bracey on November 11, 2012, 09:49:53 PM
Yes the skins are often bitter, at least in my experience.  You are correct the skin of the kaki is very fine and peels easily.

Have you noticed the autumn colour of the kaki this year, almost black in places.?

Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: helenaviolet on January 18, 2013, 05:30:31 AM
Hooray! I found mention of Mespilus germanica the Medlar tree here at MGS - thankyou John  :)

Every 'Mediterranean Garden' needs a Medlar tree. It has an amazing ancient history and was certainly cultivated by the Greeks and Romans. A delightful small ornamental tree giving spring blossom, shady green foliage, autumn colour and interesting fruit. Also it is very easy to grow requiring minimum care. One of my favourites. Obviously I am very enthusiastic about the good old-fashioned Medlar which was once very popular in Victorian times. Oh after dinner the thing to do was serve a glass of Port with a fully ripe Medlar fruit to be eaten with a silver spoon.     
Title: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Jill S on July 02, 2014, 09:55:40 AM
John, question - where/how do you obtain all your varied fruit trees? do you grow from seed, from cuttings, or from suppliers as and when you see them? or is it all of the above?
Title: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Alice on July 02, 2014, 10:57:42 AM
And another question: is the Feijoa fruit tasty? We have two plants and there has been the odd flower but no fruit yet.
Title: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: pamela on July 02, 2014, 12:16:44 PM
Alice, Feijoas are a delicious fruit.  I was brought up in New Zealand and as children together with Tamarillos (tree tomatoes), kiwifruit and passion fruit we ate them voraciously and regularly.   Acca sellowiana, comes from the lower Andes and needs water and some winter 'chilling'.  They have a wonderful scented flavour and can be eaten when they drop and the skin is slightly soft to press.  They can ripen from hard in a fruit bowl but they do go brown easily. That is why they are not a good export fruit. I have four trees here in Spain and although we get some fruit every year the trees look sparse and are not the voluptuous specimens laden with fruit that you can find in New Zealand.  It is entirely due to the rainfall and chill factor.  The red flowers are very pretty. 
Title: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on July 02, 2014, 12:34:12 PM
Jill S, the answer to your question is all of the above. The Acca bushes for example I grew from seeds bought from Chiltern Seeds in UK many years ago. Our Mango I grew from a stone brought by a friend from UK who was over on holiday. She had got the original fruit from a relative who was visiting her from her native Jamaica. We had a Mulberry that was grown from a cutting taken from the tree that grew outside my wife's family home when she was growing up. Many of our plants, not only the fruit trees, have tales to tell.
Alice, our Acca (Feijoa) fruit are probably not as fully developed and juicy as they would be if grown in a more temperate climate with access to more water. Ours are not situated in the, for want of a better word, orchard area of our property with the majority of the other fruit trees where there is irrigation and so they probably don't get as much water as they really need. In consequence the fruit are quite small, the flesh is fairly firm and almost gritty in texture. The taste is not unpleasant and with a slightly sharp after taste that could, perhaps, explain its common name of Pineapple Guava. My wife has on occasion made a sort of jam/preserve from them. I believe they are grown commercially in New Zealand so maybe one of our antipodean colleagues could tell us what they should really taste like.
Title: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on July 02, 2014, 12:37:41 PM
Thanks, Pamela, you obviously posted your reply at the same time that I was composing and posting mine. Must be one of the quickest responses on record :)
Title: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on July 02, 2014, 12:42:10 PM
The flowers are not only pretty, they are beautiful, and the petals are edible. A colourful addition to fruit salad.
Title: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Alice on July 02, 2014, 05:45:39 PM
Thank you, Pamela and John, for the info on Feijoa fruit.
I will try to give the plants some extra water when I can.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on May 28, 2016, 09:58:43 AM
Gosh, nearly 2 years since anything was posted on here.
The following may not look very impressive but they are the first embryonic fruit to appear on our Walnut tree. It's been a long wait. :D
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on September 10, 2016, 09:15:19 AM
Possibly due to the lack of sufficient water caused by the very dry winter we had our Mango has produced one solitary fruit this year.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: MikeHardman on September 10, 2016, 10:11:36 AM
Disappointing, John!
A friend in Argaka has two mangoes. Both produced a good crop of tasty fruit this year (as in previous years).
I have to say, though, that the trees don't look nearly as luxuriant as several others I know that seem to produce no fruit at all. Maybe lack of pollination causes lack of fruit, and that allows the trees to make such good vegetative growth?
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on September 10, 2016, 02:03:49 PM
We seemed to get the usual amount of flowers in the spring but for some reason they didn't set fruit. Whether this can be attributed to the unusual weather patterns we've experienced this year I don't know. Lack of pollinators, poor fruit set, inability of the tree to hold the fruit for some reason?
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on January 12, 2018, 11:11:20 AM
Over the years we have done little or nothing with the fruit growing on our medlar tree. They need a period of cold to ripen and our property in Cyprus does not provide that naturally. Last year I decided that maybe it was time we tried sticking a few of them in the fridge for a week or several. Today I remembered to look at them and lo and behold they were soft and spongy to the touch. They proved to be extremely tasty although, unfortunately, we didn't have a silver spoon to eat them with and I don't like port, their traditional accompaniment.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on June 21, 2019, 08:59:14 AM
Looking forward to the first crop from our young avocado.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Umbrian on June 22, 2019, 06:49:07 AM
Wow - well done John I hope they mature nicely for you.
Looking back on this thread I re read the posts about Feijoa - this year my bush is covered in flowers and I am hoping I might get a few fruits. Rainfall seems to be one important factor and we certainly had more than enough in May......but perhaps it is needed more when the fruits are/should be developing?
Anyway I am enjoying the flowers.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on November 15, 2020, 11:30:11 AM
An even better looking crop this year, Carole. I'm looking forward to them ripening, can almost taste them already with some of our fresh olive oil and lemon.  :P
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Umbrian on November 16, 2020, 08:31:57 AM
Well done again John....and they look beautiful hanging in the tree too. Referring to my Feijoa, that did indeed reward me with a few lovely fruits last year, I am sad to say that this year not a single fruit developed.....oh well always next year hopefully.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: John J on November 16, 2020, 10:11:53 AM
Strangely enough ours did not fruit this year either. We put it down to the fact that a sudden hot spell struck just as many of our fruit trees were flowering and they were possibly burnt off before they were pollinated.
Title: Re: Exotic fruit trees
Post by: Charithea on November 16, 2020, 07:47:35 PM
John has forgotten to mention the large supply of strawberry guavas we had. They would not keep in the fridge, could not eat them fast enough so I made them in to fruit pies. They were tasty but the seeds after being baked became hard.