At a special meeting on August 9th, Dr. Roberto Coronel from the College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines, gave a slide show and talk on "Fruits of the Philippines". It was a rushed tour for him of 12 branches in two weeks, and we appreciate his finding the energy to spend the whole day with our group, as well.
30 - 40 people toured three local farms with our guest. Many questions were put to him, and the following article has been compiled from his answers. The exchange, of course, wasn't all one way, and Dr. Coronel, with typical Asian humility, was able to learn something from us too.
In the evening, Dr. Coronel presented a talk and a slide show. [Ed. note: Comments about particular fruits from the walk and from the talk have been combined for convenience.]
The five most important fruits grown in the Philippines are Banana, Pineapple, Mango, Citrus, Papaya. Total value is 10 BILLION PESO (A$700 million). Total export value - A$300 million. Most exports go to Japan, Middle-East countries, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Other fruits grown include rambutan, carambola, sapodilla, longan, lychee, star apple, mangosteen, durian, marang, mammey sapote, canistel , sweetsop, soursop, jakfruit, santol, tamarind, lanzones(langsat), guava, pili-nut. Altogether there are over 200 different types of fruit in cultivation to some extent.
Garcinias. In wetter areas of the Philippines mangosteens can be grown in the open, but where there is a dry season, growing them under shade is recommended. Dr. Coronel showed slides of other Garcinia species and suggested that in the future one of these wild species could be used in grafting to impart more vigorous growth characteristics to the notoriously slow-growing mangosteen. There are 12 species indigenous to the Philippines, for example G. kebia - which is an attractive small red-orange fruit, but sour.
In the Philippines mangosteens are often planted under coconuts, bananas, or other shade trees (e.g. durians) where they fruit as well as those trees eventually allowed full sun. One farmer in Mindanao claimed to have fruited mangosteens in four years after planting under coconuts. Although the group saw plants only 6" tall in the ground, it is recommended to wait until they are two years old, or about two feet tall. There is a lot of seed variability and only large seeds should be used. Stem cuttings are successful, and this may be a useful method of propagating mangosteens when the first generation fruits in North Queensland. Rooted cuttings take one year before they can be planted out. The usual planting distance is 8 x 8 metres.
The Durian (Durio zibethinus). Dr. Coronel showed a few durian slides and commented that it was a very nice fruit if you agree with the smell. It is also very heavy cropping and heavily-laden trees can have their branches tied to each other and the top of the tree to even out the weight of the fruit over the whole tree. Coronel commented on a slide of a spineless durian. "What is a durian without its spines?" (duri = spine) "This one is of poor eating quality", he said. (There is, however, a good-quality spineless fruit from Borneo - Editor).
Durians in the Philippines are shaded for two years in the field. It is very important for good initial growth to avoid sunstress in durians. They are usually grown in clay loam and need good drainage as they are susceptible to the root disease Phytophthora cinnamomi. Methods of propagation are seed, patch budding, inarching, and cleft grafting. Brace grafting, which involves adding one or two extra rootstocks to the single top of the tree, is also beneficial in speeding up the growth of the tree and providing resistance to cyclonic winds.
Canistel. This fruit is naturalised, growing all over the country and as a common backyard fruit, but it is not popular because of its sticky nature. It is, however, processed into powder form and used as an ingredient in baby food. It is also made into a sherbet with milk and sugar.
If you put salt on the base of a canistel fruit after picking, this will hasten ripening. The fruit will ripen in 3 days; a good idea if timing of ripening is important.
Langsat is one of the most popular fruit in Southeast Asia and the Philippines. Dr. Coronel thought that it was strictly tropical but was surprised to see it growing in Rockhampton. There are two other forms: Duku and duku-langsat, but the langsat is preferred. This tree produces fruit in long racemes hanging from the trunk and branches on the inside of the tree. The langsat appreciates shade and may be planted under shade trees (e.g. coconut).
Langsats are a popular fruit and can be heavy cropping, though they are slow to fruit initially. It fruits heavily but suffers from insect damage and bark canker. The bark is scraped back and treated with insecticide. Lanzone is often inter-planted under coconuts. They can be grown in the shade of other trees and will still fruit, but will need cutting back as they tend to elongate.
Duku is similar to langsat in habit and cultivation requirements. For identification, Duku leaves are wider than langsat and have a wavy form.
Jakfruit. Though seedlings vary greatly from their parent tree, a desirable tree grown in isolation can be reproduced from seed with confidence. Jaks are reproduced using the cleft graft, and rootstock grown from the same tree is recommended for greater success.
A slide of an open fruit looked delicious - this selection was a rich golden-yellow in colour, of good flavour and good size 3- 5kg. in weight and 15 inches long. Immature fruit are used extensively in Philippine cuisine, and for this purpose are picked before the hard seed coat forms. (This can be tested for with a skewer - Editor) It is a tender, flavoursome dish when cooked in coconut milk.
Breadfruit. This fruit became popular in the south sea islands when it was brought there from Malaysia. In the Philippines it is used a lot as a vegetable, i.e. boiled, roasted, and fried when mature but not ripe. It is often planted in pig pens as a plant-animal nutrient symbiosis.
Breadfruit can be cleft grafted onto breadnut seedlings, or you can marcot root suckers with juvenile characteristics. Older suckers are not recommended. Root suckers can be induced by slicing the root.
Breadnut. The whole fruit can be used as a vegetable when immature. The nuts are boiled or roasted.
Artocarpus rigidus. This is the Monkey Jak or Mandalika of the Philippines. It is a round, dull-orange fruit, 10-15cm in diameter with stiff conical spines. The yellow-orange flesh is sour (though Borneo reportedly has pleasant-tasting fruit - Editor). The fruit takes 6 months to ripen.
Marang is a sweet dessert member of the Artocarpus family and is found in most markets. It has a strong smell but pleasant flavour. It is now growing wild in Mindanao province. It is a very popular fruit in the Philippines and some prefer it to the jak.
Sapodilla is a very popular seasonal fruit in the Philippines. The 'Gonzales', which is a cross of 'Ponderosa' (very large fruit 350g) and 'Pineras' (the common 'chiko' in the Philippines), is of intermediate size between these two and has many improved characteristics over other varieties. Marcotted trees fruit one year after planting, cleft grafted trees fruit at three years. It is heavy cropping and very fine-textured, and doesn't have 'Ponderosa's' problem of uneven softening. Numerous seedling trees have been identified all over the Philippines and representative grafted trees are now being evaluated at the University of Philippines.
Rambutans do well in the Philippines under coconuts. There are many plantations. Leaf tip burn is common, especially in summer and is thought to be caused by potassium deficiency. 'Seematjan' seedlings are good rootstocks. 'Rongrien' is a broad, desirably-shaped tree. 'Maharlika' leaves are very susceptible to burning in the dry months.
Bananas are the No.1 fruit in the Philippines and there are 75 cultivars grown there, including cooking and table bananas. Table bananas are eaten fresh while cooking bananas may be boiled, fried, roasted, or made into chips. 'Lacatan' is the most popular table banana and 'Cardaba' is the best one for chips. Amongst the wide range of commercial bananas grown are two "novelty" varieties: 'Pastilan' which produces two bunches on each sucker, and 'Unabaniko' (meaning fan) in which all the fingers of a hand are attached to each other.
Mango is the No.2 fruit in the Philippines after bananas. The 'Carabao' enjoys 60% of the country's mango production. It is an elongated banana-type mango which ripens with an attractive yellow colour. The flavour is described as having a good balance between sweet and acid, juicy, and low fibre content. There are several different cultivars of the mango LAMAO being described as their most promising. Another popular variety is 'Pico', which has a good, sweet flavour and a pronounced 'beak' on the bottom end.
'Carabao' has a blend of sweet and sour flavours. Other mangos are eaten when green but these two are too sour at that stage. 'Kachamita' is a variety which is sweet when green. Potassium nitrate, sprayed on mango trees in a 1% solution, induces flowering 7 days after application. A new flush has to be 4 months old to be responsive to flower induction. Production has now been extended to every month of the year using this method.
Mangifera caesia, Bauno or Beluno is a sour mango-like fruit that is very important to the Muslim population, who enjoy a sour component in their cuisine. (This is a very fragrant, juicy mango relative, sweet varieties of which can be found in Indonesia and Malaysia - Editor).
Soursop is naturalised in the Philippines and there is a sweet variety known as 'Soursop dulce', which appears to be true to type. Soursop is popular for juicing since it was introduced from tropical America. However, in the Philippines, it is a shy bearer, and trees soon lose vigour. Dr. Coronel suggested better varieties should be introduced.
Rollinia. Dr. Coronel felt it was well-adapted to both our climates but wondered if there would be a big market for it in Australia, since its quality was variable and lower than other annonas. (I wonder if he's tried the better selections of sweet organically-grown rollinias?)
Atis. A purple-fruited sugar apple introduced from India. There is also a yellow-fruited one from Thailand that is totally seedless. The fruit is 5" long. Cleft-grafted trees can bear in one year after planting. They flower well after heavy pruning in early summer.
An unnamed Annona sp. This fruit was most interesting. It had an attractive, shiny skin with no scales. It was heart-shaped much like a sugar apple. It is a hardy species that is tolerant of hot weather and not susceptible to the pests that attack the soursop and sugar apple.
Jaboticaba. Dr. Coronel feels this fruit shows much promise though yield per acre is yet to be determined for commercial production. The small branches in the interior of the tree should be pruned out for easier access and better fruiting on the more open upright branches.
Grumichama is a useful fruit that takes only two weeks to develop from flower to fruit. Its economic possibilities have never been investigated.
Red Mombin. An attractive maroon-skinned fruit with green flesh (1" x 1½") surrounding a large seed. Propagated by stem cutting using large branches. The mombin has a pleasant sub-acid flavour. Dr. Coronel feels this fruit may have a good consumer appeal in Australia. Trials are being carried in Maroochy.
Kubili - Cubilia cubili is related to the rambutan and some fruits have a little flesh, but it is the nut that is edible. Some selections are being made in the Philippines.
Capulin, a backyard tree, semi-naturalised.
Lingaro - Eleagnus philippinensis. This small vine has beautiful foliage, the leaves being silver below. The fruit is small but needs selection.
Gnetum gnemon. Known as Melinjo - The leaves are used as a vegetable. In Indonesia chips are made from the kernel. It is boiled, pounded flat, fried for a few seconds, and eaten as a snack food.
Rosellas. Used to make wine.
Eja. An ornamental tree that looked like a Rheedia.
Barbados Cherry. Used for juice in the Philippines.
Galo, Anocolosa luzoniensis. A very interesting fruit (1" x 2") with a large edible nut. The thin green flesh around the nut is also edible. (The kernel is a good quality and flavour being 11% protein, 8% fat, and 40% carbohydrate, making it a very nutritious food - Nuts of the World).
Mamey Sapote. Known as the Chico-mamey in the Philippines but not as highly esteemed there as in its native country.
Mabolo. There are two good varieties in the Philippines - a large seedless one and a large yellow one. They are very prolific fruit bearers, but there is a lot of variation in seedlings and for this reason, and because they are dioecious, grafted selections are recommended.
Sawo kechil - (Manilkara kauki) A fruit like a small sapodilla (3cm x 2cm) with very attractive red skin and white flesh. It is popular in Indonesia. Seedlings can be used as rootstock for sapodilla.
Guachilote. This fruit is similar to carambola or five-corner-fruit but is in fact an eleven-cornered fruit!
Malay Apple or Macopa. This fruit is commonly pink, but can also be white, green, or red. Most are seedless.
Santol. The fruit in the Philippines is usually sour and is used in preserves and wine-making. Manila santol is not only popular but famous, and sold in all markets. It is also grown as a street tree in Manila. There are two or three good selections in Thailand.
Carambola is becoming popular now in the Philippines.
Star Apple. This fruit is very popular and has become naturalised to the extent that it is a common backyard tree. They suffer from fruit fly and borer. 'Lila' is a recommended variety. Another slide was the golden-yellow 'Philippine Gold'. The general consensus is that this variety is of superior eating quality. Propagation: cleft grafting and inarching. Trees fruit at 3 years of age.
Bignay - Antidesma bunius. Also called Buni. The Bignay crops prolifically, and bunches of small, bright red to purple fruits festoon the tree. (Although the fruits are small, they have a pleasant, subacid flavour, and the pulp, when separated from the seeds, is useful for jams, preserves, juices and sauces. Editor).
Pejibaye or Peach Palm (Bactris gasipaes). A very productive and nutritious fruit, and crops regularly in the Philippines. Its heart of palm is useful, too, and is more delicious than the coconut. (We found this out for ourselves when the cyclone toppled many large peach palms over. Editor).
Calamansi (Citrus madurensis) is indigenous to the Philippines. When grown there, the colour of the skin is green, but in Australia they colour up well.
Cashew was introduced to the Philippines by the early Spanish missionaries about 300 years ago. It is now an important local crop, both for the flesh and nut. Over 200 strains are recognised with yields up to 100 kg per tree.
Pili (Canarium ovatum). This edible nut, second to cashew in importance as a nut tree crop, is also indigenous to the Philippines, fruiting in 4 years from seed (some take only 3 years). There are 3 or 4 selected varieties and they are reproduced by patch-budding. The Pili will soon be a commercial crop in the Philippines (Coronel covers this crop well in his book Promising Fruits of the Philippines. He was most interested in hearing about Borneo's Dabai which has commercial crop potential in that island - Editor).
Black Sapote has not gained popularity in the Philippines.
Pulasan. Most Pulasan trees in the Philippines are sour, but one variety has been introduced that is sweet.
Mangosteen is another important commercial fruit. Fruiting usually takes around 10 years from seedlings with some trees cropping up to 1000 fruit in a season.
Irrigation. Some growers use irrigation in the Philippines but many don't. Instead, they try to suit the crop to the natural rainfall. In the northern islands, for instance, mangoes are grown extensively without water.
While on the subject of "What's in a name?", Coronel commented that the mangosteen is only called "purple mangosteen" outside Asia, and that he regrets our name "Bullock's heart" for an otherwise agreeable fruit. (Recently, an orchardist couple visiting from Hawaii told us that cherimoyas, atemoyas, and other annonas are simply called "moyas" in the markets - Editor).
We thanked our visitor from the Philippines for sharing his knowledge with us, and commend him on some excellent slides.
DATE: November 1987
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