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Messages - Balaman

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Achachairu fruits for first time
« on: August 06, 2017, 08:19:53 PM »
I've tried Achachairu in Australia (named Achacha here) and the taste is unique but reminds me of other fruit that I've eaten in the 'wild' hills of Jamaica where I grew up. However, I just can't put my finger on which fruit. We have a Garcinia there that is similar but from memory is smaller than Achachairu and which we call Wild Mammee. Curiously though, the fruit in Jamaica is classified as Garcinia humilis, which is the botanical name applied in Australia to Achachairu (confusing). I've decided to go with GRIN ( on this and their classification of Achachairu as Garcinia gardneriana, which I've written about at: Any feedback on this naming anomaly would be appreciated. And is there anyone else that has tasted the fruit that can offer critique on my description of its flavour?

PFAF   Plants for a future

Has a very useful Database of plants I have spent hours using this,  detailed information on 1000s of plants. and their uses.

The focus of the website is temperate plants. For tropical and subtropical plants visit Granted they have fewer plants, but the information is better researched.

As with any farming venture, deciding what plants to cultivate should start with what market you're trying to serve and what opportunities exist in that market. For example, if your farm is on a tropical island that is visited by tourists you may want to consider that market, in terms of supplying food to hotels and restaurants that serve the market. However, relying solely on the tourist market has it drawbacks, not least of which is that it is seasonal. So targeting other markets is essential. These may include local supermarkets, the restaurant and catering trades, or even the export market. Example of products that could be supplied to each market:

Tourist market: Fresh fruit, veg and herbs (e.g. Papaya, Exotic citrus such as Finger lime, Buddha's hand, Exotic fresh herbs such as Epazote, Cuban oregano, Saw-toothed clintro, Edible flowers etc); Value add product: Sugar cane swizzle sticks; Juice of sour orange for marinades and bar drinks, etc.) The idea here is to focus on niche produce that grow well in the area and can be produced with consistent quality, supplied quickly and is preferably organic. Niche produce means you are producing small quantities of an exotic product, so that you're not competing against large commercial operations with their economies of scale. Even large hotels buy small quantities of some product, in some cases to serve specialist restaurants within their overall offering. For example, my uncle used to grow a very large papaya variety on a quarter acre block and sold all papaya to a few large hotels in Montego Bay. Why did large hotels buy small quantities of a large papaya? They made great display items when carved. They were not for eating.

Local markets: Product may be similar to the tourist market but with supply not restricted to the winter tourist season. This means, for example, fresh herbs that can be produced and supplied in the winter as well as throughout the humid summer months. This has implications for what is selected to be cultivated, as not all culinary herbs do well in both the dry winter and humid summer season. And don't forget Farmers Markets, these are springing up everywhere. The list goes on..  P.S. There is also the possibility of producing honey from nectar producing plants in your area, single floral or multi-floral.

Export market: Dried fruit, Dried herbs, Dried spices, Dried flowers, Essential oils to name a few and all organically grown. Dried, organically grown produce is in high demand, is cost effective to transport and has a long shelf-life. Here are a few essential oil yielding plants to consider:

There are many other market segments, but each needs to be researched and evaluated.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Black Ironwood
« on: June 01, 2017, 04:22:48 PM »

I had not heard of that book.  Will need to add it to my library.   If you don't have:  Tropical and Subtropical Trees: An Encyclopedia (Margaret Barwick) its another awesome one and a great resource!

As for the Black Ironwood, some things I am trying are making a steeped rum kinda like how its done with Guavaberry or Mammmawanna (Mama Juana) here.  I use the local Cruzan rum and add the berries, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, all spice, and honey.  the rum has already changed from a brown to a dark purple and has a lovely fragrance.   Next, I will try to make some jam, maybe this weekend. 

As for the taste of the berries, they are very sweet.  Very strong grape and black berry flavors.  The juice is a dark purple and will color your hands as you eat them.  The local thrushy birds seem to love them and the bees also enjoy their flowers.  The wood is described as strong but brittle.  I can attest to the brittle part.  My son was climbing the smaller one and the branch he was standing on snapped off and he fell to the ground.  Luckily not injured just stunned.  He's like a little Tarzan so he wasn't fazed. 

I'm quite enthralled with this tree, it's really something to behold.  Very pretty with its green foliage and the new growth starts out pink like many other tropical trees.  Knowing that they are slow growers gives me a lot of reverence for the larger ones.

I put some seeds in some soil last night without washing them.  Will see if they sprout.  Also will try washing some and doing the paper towel trick to see how that works.   

By the way, nice website Balaman.  I can see that becoming very useful as the database grows.

Thank you for your encouragement on the iplantz website and for the book recommendation.  One of the first books I purchased was 'Tropical and Subtropical Trees: An Encyclopedia (Margaret Barwick)'. Apparently she spent some years living on Grand Cayman and some of the photographs in the book come from there. The J C Adams book 'Flowering plants of Jamaica' has no photographs, just descriptions of the plants, so it more of a botanical work than a gardening book.

Appreciate your description on the flavour of the Black Ironwood fruit. With you permission, I will use this when describing the plant. It would appear from your photographs that the crown is densely leafy, round and the mature leaves dark green. Adams describes the tree in his book as a small tree 5 to 12 meters tall, occasionally (rarely) to 17 meters (56 ft), widely dispersed but nowhere common, from sea level to 3000 (5000) ft in Jamaica, mostly growing at rocky lagoon margins and in woodlands on limestone, flowering Mar-Sep, fruiting May-Jan. Also native to Curacao, which means it can withstand a dry season of up to 8 months and annual rainfall as low as 600 mm (24 in). Quite a tough tree.

Are you familiar with 'Mauby' a.k.a  'Soldierwood'? It is native to your area. Have just finished writing about this tree. The bark is used to make a home brew and beverage popular in Puerto Rico and Trinidad Unfortunately, I don't have any photos it that I can upload to the database.

Good your son was not injured by his fall. Tree climbing is almost a rite of passage in the Caribbean.  In my youth, I harvested many a guava that way. Unfortunately, they were mostly worm infested.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Black Ironwood
« on: June 01, 2017, 02:59:06 AM »
Hi Tag Tonic

I'm from the Caribbean but have never come across this tree, however, it is written about in Flowering plants of Jamaica (C. D. Adams), which is the bible of plants in Jamaica, as you may already know. I'm very interested in learning more about this tree, in particular you mentioned  'I picked a bunch and am making some different creations with them'. Could you maybe describe the taste and elaborate a little on what you used the fruit to create. I'm trying to gather information on this tree with a view to include it in my plant database at Hope you can assist. Thanks in advance

Oh, forgot to mention Tamarind is also a good option for a salt tolerant, seaside plant. Have not yet finished writing about it, so is not in the list below:


I've come up with a few fruit-bearing trees that are suitable for growing in a seaside garden and would grow well in Saint Maarten. These trees have been returned in a search on a tropical plant database I'm building. Below is a link to a list of these plants. Some are quite unusual for the Caribbean, such as Borassus flabellifer from India and Asia, but most should be familiar.

The term 'Seaside garden plant' on the search result page refers to plant that grow well near the seaside, not necessarily with their roots in salty soil. If you need an added degree of salt tolerance you can select 'Salt tolerant' as an additional term in the database to filter for those plants. To do that, click on 'General feature' on the left column of the page, then click on 'Tolerance', then click on 'Salt tolerant'.

Hope this helps you.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Bombay Mango Flavor
« on: May 22, 2017, 11:57:20 PM »
Alphanso is probably the most esteemed mango in all of India, which speaks to its flavour. See the following Wikipedia article:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Bombay Mango Flavor
« on: May 22, 2017, 09:58:15 PM »
Are you only interested in flavour or is texture also important? The Alphanso mango out of India has pulp with a similar texture to Bombay, being almost peach-like, but not sure about the flavour.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Please help identify this tree
« on: May 07, 2017, 03:29:16 PM »
The bark looks like that of a guava

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Growing lychees in Jamiaca
« on: May 05, 2017, 05:43:05 PM »
I grew up in Jamaica. Castleton in St. Mary parish is probably the best known lychee producing areas, due to its proximity to the capital Kingston, yet is has an average elevation of of 650 feet (200 meters). I've been to the Castleton gardens a couple of time and noticed the lychee trees there grow nearby the river (or on the river side of the main road). Elsewhere on the island, lychee trees are cultivated above 1200 ft (360 meters). There are a couple of probable reasons for this anomaly. First, lychee trees are one of the most climate sensitive fruit trees and selection of the wrong variety for an area can result in sporadic or no fruiting. Until recently, there has not been much varietal consideration in selecting lychee trees for planting in different areas in Jamaica. Second, Castleton borders the Blue Mountains reserve (which starts on the other side of the river). The Blue Mountains rise steeply to over 7000 ft (2000 meters) and no doubt, as sure a cold air falls and hot air rises, the chilling air flows down to create a unique microclimate in Castleton. Why lychee trees flower and fruit in the Barbican area in Kingston is a mystery. The cause is most likely varietal in my view.

In lowland tropical Australia, where I've visited, the lychee varieties ‘Souey Tung’ and ‘San Ye Hong’ are grown commercially. For more info on what varieties grow where in tropical and subtropical regions visit

Here is some information I found on the chilling requirements for Cherimoya. This info is published by the California Rare Fruit Grows at : The following is an excerpt from that publication:

"If cherimoyas do not receive enough chilling, the trees will go dormant slowly and then experience delayed foliation. The amount of chilling needed is estimated to be between 50 and 100 hours."

Does Miami get that many chilling hours?

It much more than chill hours.  Elevation plays a role....

Elevation in Miami, that's a laugh. Miami is as flat as a pancake, so is most of Florida.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Malay apple
« on: April 26, 2017, 11:57:34 PM »
Trees begin flowering and fruiting at an age of 7 to 8 years.

Here is some information I found on the chilling requirements for Cherimoya. This info is published by the California Rare Fruit Grows at : The following is an excerpt from that publication:

"If cherimoyas do not receive enough chilling, the trees will go dormant slowly and then experience delayed foliation. The amount of chilling needed is estimated to be between 50 and 100 hours."

Does Miami get that many chilling hours?

Some of the information on '' is wrong. One does not pluck "tender" leaves to use as spice,but mature leaves.

Chandramohan, Thanks for the correction. I've changed 'young' to 'mature' in the use description. Have revisited my reference books and can only conclude that I have mistakenly substituted 'young' for 'fresh'. I've observed the leaves being used in cooking and have used them myself, but must admit I've only cooked with them on occasion.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Nance (Byrsonima crassifolia)
« on: April 23, 2017, 08:01:45 PM »

Hi, I will be happy to share the info on the site. But, don't know how to do it.
You can do it for me, if you don't mind. I will share the photos if you want.

Hi Vipinrl, Apologies for the late reply but am new to this forum and am still finding my way around on it. I would very much like, and appreciate, any photos (images) that you can share with I have set-up an image upload App on the website that is accessible after sign-up, and after I (the website admin) have given you 'contributor' permissions. After 'contributor' permissions are granted, you will be able to use your mobile phone to login on the website (using the email address and password you used at sign-up), capture an image using the camera on you phone and upload the image to via the App. If you're interested, you can sign up and then let me know that you have by reply to this message and I will give you 'contributor' rights. After that it will be easy to upload an image. Thanking you in advance.

Kind regards,
Balaman (aka Steve)

Suggestions for shade tree:

Click on the following link:

Navigate to 'Shade tree' in left-hand column on page by selecting Use > Garden (home and public) > Shade tree

Select 'Shade tree'

Then in left-hand column navigate to 'Height or length' by selecting General feature > Height of length

Select height or length.

Hope this helps

Here is a link to some info on how it it is used and its weed risk. Scroll down to Google Maps on the page to see where it grows.

Have a look at Google Maps at the following website for information on where Pometia pinnata is suited to grown in Jamaica.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Lychee Bloom Jamaica (Florida?)
« on: April 22, 2017, 08:22:02 PM »
I suspect this is Mandeville, in Manchester Parish. You can check out the climate data for this town by drilling down on Jamaica in Google Maps at this link:

I know Mandeville well. Went to high school there and is where most lychee trees are in central Jamaica.

Tropical Fruit Online Library /
« on: April 22, 2017, 06:30:36 PM »
I'm in the process of of creating a searchable online database of tropical and subtropical plants, accessible at

Would very much appreciate any assistance or collaboration on further developing this online resource, particularly the sharing of images of tropical fruit. Have created an image upload App that is accessible after sign-up on the website and after 'contributor' rights are granted by the administrator.

The database has been work-in-progress for the past five years and uses climate data to display on Google Maps where a plant is likely to grow. Towns in the database are limited to those in frost-free areas of the world. General data on plants is referenced to over 500 books.

Hoping to hear from you.

Kind regards,
Steve (Website Administrator)

After a more thorough search have come up with Garcinia kydia as a possibility. Is native to north East India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. See:

It may be Garcinia indica, which is native to the Western Ghats. This information may help:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Nance (Byrsonima crassifolia)
« on: April 18, 2017, 01:03:36 AM »
Nice photos. Any chance of you sharing them on:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Lakeland Florida project
« on: April 18, 2017, 12:43:55 AM »
The Bananas will love having their roots near water and the pond should help to increase the humidity around the plants. Any chance of you sharing some of your plant photos with

Hi Johnny,

Atemoya (Annona x atemoya) would be a more suitable choice for your climate. Cherimoya needs a good amount of chilling, which is more common north of Okeechobee. Atemoya, a Cherimoya, Sugar Apple cross is a very tasty and large fruit. I've enjoyed many and the taste and texture is not too far off Cherimoya. This information may help

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