SCIENTIFIC NAME: Annona scleroderma
FAMILY: Annonaceae

Photo of Don Gray and Posh Te tree. December 24th 1990 was a Christmas Eve we will not forget in a hurry. Cyclone "Joy" came close to Cape Tribulation and hovered off the coast of Port Douglas for two and a half days.

The force of the cyclone badly hit parts of Cape Tribulation where our friends Colin and Dawn Gray lost an entire crop of rambutans, 60% of their durian fruit, with a third of their fruit trees badly damaged - the winds snapping major branches and trunks.

It must have been a joke in the weather department to name a cyclone at Christmastime "Joy" (we all felt joy when at last the cyclone petered out into a rain depression.)

The gusts of wind from cyclone "Joy" hit Mt. Lewis near Julatten and then continued to blast our area. The rain was actually coming down horizontally with the force of the wind. The wind gusts were not as bad as cyclone Winifred, though. Don did not cut any trees back. We had just come through a drought. No rain had fallen for eight months. The ground was dry and the trees had dropped a lot of foliage except the posh-té and a few others. Don had been only watering the smaller trees. Don believes that one can overwater the large trees, making them weak and unable to stand against any wind or drought, because holding back on the water forces the roots to go deeper.

Cyclone "Joy" brought us the rain we needed and broke the drought. The winds ceased Christmas morning. We walked out into the orchard to see the damage.

Photo of Posh Te tree smashed by cyclone.

On the ground lay the shattered remains of the original grafted posh-té. Two branches of the posh-té were still attached to the stump, with a couple of fruit attached (the tree later died and the stump was removed). The posh-té tree is such a beautiful tree with dark green, shiny, abundant foliage - which is not good when a cyclone is around. The tree, being heavy with foliage and extra weight from rain water, soon gave way as the winds tore it to bits.

Luckily, Don had planted out other posh-té trees in different areas, and only one other was blown out and another lost a huge branch. We were thankful, as overall only 20 trees were lost.

It really pays to have the same type of tree planted in different places on one's property, as cyclones seem to move around in belts of wind and can miss a lot of trees.

Before cyclone "Joy" we had picked quite a good crop of posh-té fruit. On 24th October, 1990, I measured a good-sized fruit. It weighed 500 grams, measured 33cm or 13 inches in circumference, 10cm or 4 inches in diameter. The thickness of the skin or hard shell was 2mm, or just over 1/16 inch.

Betty arrived at our place one Sunday and volunteered to taste-test a chilled posh-té fruit. Her comments were, "It doesn't look much", as we cut the fruit in half for her to try. "But it is what's inside that counts," Betty added. Tasting the fruit, Betty said, "The fruit has a ginger, lemon flavour, moist, not grainy and not distasteful at all, there is a lot of flesh, nice!" Betty commented. "The more I eat, the more pleasant it is," Betty added.

We have found the posh-té fruit left a pleasant aftertaste in one's mouth. The fruit is much nicer chilled.

We have found the best time to eat the fruit is when the markings on the fruit have smoothed out. The flesh tastes better when it is clear. The amount of flesh in the fruit is deceiving, as the seeds seem to take up hardly any space, and the seeds come out of the flesh clean and easy.

I was asked by David Wallace, "Have the flowers any perfume?" On the afternoon of the 24th February, 1991 at 3 p.m., Barbara, our Daintree fruit-growing enthusiast and I decided to check out the posh-té flowers. We took a close whiff of a female flower; the stigma was moist and just barely opening. We agreed that the smell was like acrylic paint. So I wonder if this smell is to attract certain pollinating insects, or if the posh-té is pollinated by the air currents moving around the pollen and sticking to the female flowers. It may be a bit of both. There are still flowers opening, the date is now 11th March, 1991.

Picking our posh-té fruit started in October. We were up at Colin and Dawn Gray's at Cape Tribulation in October and inspected the posh-té tree Don had supplied to Colin. Their tree was in flower in October, so there is quite a few month's difference in flowering from coast to Julatten on the Tablelands. Our posh-té tree flowers from January to March.

One other thing we noticed was, when the fruit set, they set on branches in small clusters of two or three fruits. This causes smaller fruit to form. Thinning out the fruit would be a good practice to adopt, to encourage larger fruit.

Because there were too many fruit on the tree, quite a few turned black and went hard - they were mainly the smaller fruit.

Towards Christmas, before cyclone "Joy", a number of posh-té fruit we opened had fruit fly. Fruit fly are active and breed in hot, humid weather.

The posh-té fruit is really a surprise fruit. One has to know exactly when to eat them. Because if you eat them too early, they are sour, or if you eat them too over-ripe, they are mushy; but just right, they are delicious.

The posh-té is a tree worth including in one's backyard collection. The fruit could have commercial potential, but one would have to consider the fruit fly.

Christine Gray

DATE: May 1991

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