Okay- this is a tropical fruit I can get behind! These are lovely! Beautiful in appearance, texture, and taste. Malay Apples are seasonally available February through June and grow on large sturdy trees. They have a vibrant red skin, white flesh and one large pit in the middle. The taste is very very subtle but the texture is pleasant and refreshing. I love these ‘apples’ which are also called rose apples, Jamaican apples, or mountain apples.
The Malay Apple was not native to Belize but has been cultivated here and across the Caribbean and Central America for a few hundred years. They only grow in hot and humid regions; requiring high levels of rainfall and absolutely no frost. I first saw one of these trees growing naturally in the Mayflower Bocawina park and recently when we visited Ayala’s Natural Pools near Belmopan, we had the pleasure of helping ourselves to fruit from their small orchard of Malay Apples trees.
I’m saving my pits now and will attempt to grow my own tree here on the peninsula. I’ve never seen a Malay Apple tree here along the coast but all varieties of mango thrive so… perhaps! Noel, at the vegetable stand, said I shouldn’t have any trouble sprouting them as they “grow where they fall” on the mainland but he wasn’t sure how they’d do here in the sandy soil. If I make an (super semi) educated guess about the tree’s potential failure to thrive here in Placencia, I would guess it would have something to do with it’s root system. I always wondered why Breadfruit trees were so big and abundant along the Hummingbird Highway but never planted on the cayes and the few that I’ve seen around Placencia are a bit stunted and don’t seem to produce the number or quality of breadfruit that their inland counterparts do. I was wondering this aloud to my neighbor, Jeremy, because it seemed like a no brainer for islanders to plant a breadfruit tree or two and have a ready source of food available in their yards. He told me it was because breadfruit trees have a taproot system that drills straight down seeking a water source. If you’re familiar with Placencia then you know our (sea) water table is a mere 3-4 feet deep so while not impossible to grow taproot trees here, it takes either a lot of work (to force root growth laterally and/or ‘mound up’ the soil bed) or a lot of luck. Here’s a picture of roots I pulled from Google:
I’ll try sprouting a few of these and plant them at various locations on the peninsula to see what takes. If you have property here and want to be part of the experiment let me know in the comments and I’ll send a seedling your way!