In the September, 1989 RFCA Newsletter appeared articles on the sugar apple, the canistel and the mangosteen.
Here in Florida, the sugar apple (Annona squamosa) finds a ready market among the Latin population. Prime quality fruit have brought growers up to U.S.$2.25 a pound. Unfortunately, the fruit does not sell as well nationwide as the related atemoya (A. squamosa X A. cherimola) which has a preferred flavor and longer shelf life. Most sugar apple groves are planted out with the 'Thai-Lessard' variety which makes uniformly large fruit of good eating quality.
Other sugar apple varieties, not grown commercially, are the 'Purple', the 'Seedless' and the 'Ubol'. The 'Purple' is one of our most beautiful Annonas, with a red and purple skin. The 'Seedless' is as the name implies, came from Cuba and Brazil. Unfortunately it splits open badly during warm, humid weather. The 'Ubol' is a Thai variety known for its hard outer skin which resists splitting.
Fortunately, sugar apples come true from seed. Groves of the 'Thai-Lessard' variety are all from seedling, ungrafted plants. Commercial sugar apple groves are subject to chalcid fly attack. This insect lays eggs on the surface of very immature fruit. Upon hatching, the larvae bore into the fruit, eat the seeds, later make holes again as they exit, drop to the ground and pupate. To protect from such insect damage, the groves are sprayed with an insecticide every ten days while the fruit is immature.
Another pest is the ambrosia beetle which bores holes in the branches, causing die-back of the tree. Maturing fruit is also subject to anthracnose fungus, causing it to dry up and not fall off the tree. Fruit in this condition are referred to as 'mummies'.
Another common South Florida fruit is the canistel (Pouteria campechiana). Also known as the 'egg fruit', it is grown on a limited commercial scale bringing growers U.S.$1.00 a pound at the packing house. 'Bruce' is the preferred commercial variety, making uniformly large, attractive quality fruit. 'Ross' is another variety. It came from Costa Rica and has the best eating qualities, being sweeter and less dry in texture. Although this is usually listed as a canistel, the writer believes it to be something else and only related.
The canistel can be used to make excellent shakes. Using a small amount of pulp, it is beaten up in a blender with milk. The result is a delicious beverage similar to eggnog.
The mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is seldom encountered in South Florida because of its tenderness to cold. In spite of this, the writer has a bearing tree, testimony that this Garcinia can be grown in our state's warmest locations. Prior to World War II, the United Fruit Company planted out twenty acres of mangosteens in Honduras. This mangosteen grove, thought to be the largest in the world, is located on the Atlantic side of this Central American country near the village of Lancetilla. The fruit size and quality can vary greatly from tree to tree. Some bear mangosteens as large as tennis balls while others achieve only golf ball dimensions. While most mangosteens are delicious, some trees bear fruit interlaced with a bitter-tasting yellow sap.
Occasionally the normally deep-purple-colored fruit is replaced by trees that produce ones with a copper-like colored ring. Male mangosteen trees in the rain forests of Borneo, Malaysia have been observed by Tony Lamb and others. Lamb is the Principal Research Officer at the Agricultural Research Station, Tenom, Borneo. Recently he has come up with a most promising Garcinia rootstock for grafting mangosteens onto. Hopefully with this as a root, it will be possible to raise the temperamental 'Queens of Fruits' in locations with adverse soil conditions where it normally would be impossible to grow.
DATE: November 1989
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