SCIENTIFIC NAME: Melicoccus bijugatus
FAMILY: FAMILY: Sapindaceae

What sort of picture does Spanish Lime conjure up in your mind?

A member of the citrus family?

If that's your guess, you are wrong!

For some time I was flummoxed about Spanish Lime, until I discovered that it was another name for 'genip' or 'genipap'. Still, I couldn't see the association with lime until recently, when I examined the fruit closely and discovered that it resembles a small green West Indian lime, and because some of the fruits tend to be acidic, the name stuck. The name 'genip' is widely used in the English-speaking world and should be adopted by Nurserymen in Queensland. 'Mamoncillo' is the Spanish name for the fruit, but the botanical name is Melicoccus bijugatus.

Genip is an evergreen West Indian tree. It belongs to the Sapindaceae family and produces fruits on panicles like the lychee. The tree grows to enormous size in Jamaica and stands up bravely against hurricanes. It is also one of the most attractive trees imaginable, with its rounded canopy of lanceolate leaves and smooth white trunks. I saw these trees pendulous with fruits interspersed with akee trees, pimentos, mangoes, sweet plums and red-cheeked Otaheiti apples (Eugenia malaccensis) in Hanover parish, south of Montego Bay, and it was a picture to behold. The genip fruits vary in sweetness; the ones I ate were reasonably sweet, considering that the fruits were late, owing to unseasonable rains, and I was a little too early for top-quality ones.

The fruit is about the size of a longan, with a similar colour. When the fruits reach maturity they change from green to brownish green.

The fruits of genip stay fresh for only a few days unless refrigerated. The most practical way of eating the fruit is to suck the beige-pink translucent, succulent flesh from the single seed. But one could obtain a pulp by passing the flesh through a coarse sieve, and use it to make a topping similar to the Santol topping described in the recipe booklet. I am confident that the genip will thrive in the Top End, where the lychee has failed.

Article from Darwin Branch Newsletter No.4 Aug. '88

DATE: September 1988

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