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One of the few Australian 'bushtucker' foods that are eaten fresh out of hand. Taste is aromatic, creamy and with a ginger note. Attractive small shrubbing plant with ornamental flowers. Good groundcover. Very attractive to birdlife.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Nifty Gadget; the Parrot Flower Power
« on: June 23, 2015, 01:22:06 AM »

Records air temperature, moisture and fertilizer levels in potted plants and transmits signals to your IOS or other smart device in the form of alerts if any of these variables reach critical levels. You can set the parameters for different species, I believe.

About 30 bucks.

A couple have set so far, early into the season. Pretty much the only raspberry in existence that does well in the tropics. I prefer them to regular raspberries, sweeter and have a more intense flavour. Not doing seeds sorry, too much deliberation required. I CBF picking out seeds the size of grains of sand and trying to dry them.

Here's what they're like ripe. Kind of like little berets.

Anyone have experience with this?

One the most popular Australian native Fruits, which are extensively used in flavourings, Jellies, and drinks. The seed is also edible and is roasted, makes a delicious nut. Wiki inf below, PM if interested with trade offer. Prefer to trade but will sell seeds also for 1.50$ USD plus postage, minimum order 20 seeds purely because I'm lazy and don't want to be doing up heaps of packages. And I already have quite a few to send out :)


Mail order too. Prices are good, range is excellent, postage is fair. US based.

Tropical Fruit Buy, Sell & Trade / For Trade; Oca seed tubers
« on: May 28, 2015, 10:06:42 PM »
Delicious Yam Native to New Zealand. Tastes like a combination of potato, squash, and some othery-ness kind of like sweet potato. Flavor is delicate and not robust. Very soft flesh. Very easy to mash, but I prefer mine par-boiled, rolled in onion powder and deep fried, which gives them the texture and consistency of a tater-tot (super crispy on the outside, soft on the inside).

Note: Oca is not a tropical Yam, and is a temperate crop. If you live in the tropics, or subtropics, you need to reverse the season--that is, grow them in winter.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Banana ID required
« on: May 28, 2015, 08:33:55 PM »
What is this? Dwarf Ducasse? Have been waiting for it to fruit for a while, finally got there after a recent inundation. I don't treat it very well.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Mychorrhizae; is it worth it?
« on: May 28, 2015, 06:32:09 AM »
I've seen a few reports of people using it who say they don't seem to notice any difference when including it as part of their nutrient regime. Anyone able to share their experiences with it?


Big day, finished both sets. Took me about 5 hours straight to mix the soil to fill the raised bed, which contains my opuntia collection. The mix I crreated from biochar, pearlite, vermiculite, very sandy topsoil, and peat moss.

The epiphyllum  hanging frame is made out out cut to length galvanised steel posts held together by T-Joints and simply threaded Galv hooks to hang the pots from. This grove contains Tyalgum purple exclusively, which bears purple fleshed fruits as large as dragonfruit.


Tropical Fruit Discussion / What's your favorite variety of papaya?
« on: May 16, 2015, 11:49:46 PM »

 Mine is either  H.solo or Khak Dam--in most cases the latter. You?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Figs
« on: May 12, 2015, 02:12:27 AM »
If you are doing just a few pieces then wrapping in parafilm, or similar tape, works best. If you are sending a lot of scion wood that ienndividual wrapping gets to be too time consuming. I put all the pieces together in a zip lock bag add a little bit of fine grade vermiculite, moisten slightly with a few drops of water, wrap tightly and hold it together tightly with some rubber bands. I don't dip in fungicide. Haven't found that to be necessary. If you aren't mailing the scion wood right away then make sure to store it in a cool dark place. i use produce bins of the fridge. Make sure not to freeze or expose to high temperatures, either in storage or in mail transit. So don't mail them in extreme heat or cold weather.

I can tell you're not using to posting fig cuttings, which makes sense because there's no way they'd fruit in the tropics I suppose. If you ever come across one that does, you will have hit gold.

Fig cuttings are very susceptible to fungal infections and molds. They really do need treatment in order to stop this developing, especally on long journeys.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Filling cactus bed
« on: May 11, 2015, 11:51:48 PM »
I need to fill this bed, which is nearly finished--just have to finish sealing/painting it.

I had planned on using a pearlite mix, but well--that would seriously blow out the  budget on this project as I need all the coir, moss and pearlite I have for something else. My options are various soils, gravels and sands--and a shitload of biochar, which I am replacing as my soiless mix for dragonfruit as I've decided it's too alkaline to work well ultimately. Here's said bed:

Any thoughts? Cheap is good.

Is it good?

Seriously,  check out the ways in which the humble prickly pear can be used:

Around the turn of the century, the plant scientist Luther Burbank researched many uses of the prickly pear cactus. Bob Hornback of Santa Rosa, California, has worked with the Luther Burbank collection for many years and done much to relocate and save specimens of these varieties. He has compiled a list of prickly pear uses from Burbank's research notes, circa 1914.

Prickly pear cacti can be grown into hedges and fences by planting them a foot or so apart. Within several years, the plants will grow together to form a wall of the spiny pads protruding at all angles( a barrier that will repel any intruder larger than a rabbit. Plantings can also be made for erosion control in deforested areas. In time, cacti plants such as Opuntia ficus-indica may grow into freely-branching trees from 10 to 20 feet tall.

The sap from the pads can be used in first aid similar to the aloe vera plant. Simply cutoff a portion of a pad, crush it, and squeeze the juice onto a cut, burn, or bruise. The sap will soothe the wound. Ground or pureed young pads are used as a laxative and also as a remedy for diabetes. According to Marita Cantwellde-Trejo, Extension Vegetable Postharvest Specialist at the University of California, Davis, the Mexican Institute of Nutrition in Mexico City is researching the hypoglycemic effect of cactus consumed by humans.

In Central Africa, the sap from the pads served as a mosquito repellent. In 1911, Burbank noted in Scientific American, that when spread on water, it smothers mosquito larvae, and the effect lasts up to a year.

The stickiness of the sap makes it useful in formulating various products. It can be extracted to make chewing gum and candles, and is used as a stiffening agent for cotton cloth. A common use in rural areas of Mexico is to boil it down into a concentrate and mix it with whitewash and mortar to increase the durability of buildings.

Fresh pads provide a dependable source of food and drink for livestock and poultry. From 1906 to 1915, Burbank developed and promoted some 35 varieties of "spineless" cactus for this purpose. Charles E. Russell, of Texas A&I University, has studied some of these and other varieties as animal fodder in arid regions of Texas, Mexico, and Chile. Russell points out that the pads, when supplemented with a portion of cottonseed meal, offer all the moisture and nutrition an animal needs. Cantwell-de-Trejo adds that while there is a maximum amount of cactus pads that animals can eat (if pads make up over 50% of their diet, they will develop diarrhea), the pads may be the only source of food and water for range animals during times of drought or hardship. A wide variety of other animals has been successfully raised on the cactus pads. These include sheep, pigs, horses, ostriches (grown for their feather plumes), and at least one circus elephant.

According to Russell, the pads are a highly-prized commodity in the dairy industry of Mexico. When fed to dairy stock, the pads impart a distinctive flavor to the milk and butter, and these products are highly desired locally. A mutually beneficial barter system between cacti and dairy producers provides all the manure the cactus can use in return for all the pads the dairy stock can eat.

Other parts of the cactus also are useful. The pads can be pounded and dried, and the strong fibers woven into mats, baskets, fans, and fabrics. Pressed fibers can be used in making paper. The large spines are used as toothpicks, needles, and pins. Even the woody skeletons left after the fleshy tissues is dried can be used( in the construction of houses, rustic furniture, and assorted trinkets.

Before commercial dependence on synthetic dyes, cactus plantations were planted for the production of red pigments. The red-colored fruit of Opuntia streptacantha contain betacyanins (similar to anthocyanins) that are used for food coloring. Carminic acid ( "cochineal" ( is produced by the cochineal insect that feeds on the pads and fruit, and is used in botanical stains and as a cloth dye. In the 16th century, the export of cochineal from Mexico was second in importance and monetary value only to silver. According to Cantwell-de-Trejo, there is a resurgence of interest in these natural pigments. Also, some Indian groups dry the pads, flower buds, and fruits for later boiling and eating. Young flower buds can be baked and eaten.

Russell and Cantwell-de-Trejo concur that the prickly pear cactus is an underappreciated plant species, and they optimistically anticipate the development of future economic uses for both the pads and the fruit. Some possible uses, Russell suggests, include adapting the natural mucilage in pads as a soup thickener similar to agar, using the fruit's juice in various flavorings, and fermenting the juice into vinegar and wine ( the distillate retains a wonderfully fruity aroma.
Culinary Uses

However, forbidding the spines, this cactus is definitely worth eating. The pads are "cladodes" or "nopales" when they're whole, and "nopalitos" when they're diced. They taste something like green beans. The fruits are called prickly pears, cactus pears, or "tunas."

Whether you add sliced or cubed pads to omelettes or gently urge the fruit from its stickery skin and eat it fresh or cooked into jelly, this cactus has much to offer. Even the seeds can be eaten in soups or dried and ground into flour. Recipes and entertaining and informative tips on preparation can be found in Joyce L. Tate'sCactus Cookbook, available from the Cactus and Succulent Society of America. Recipes range from appetizers, soups, and salads through entrees, vegetable dishes, and breads to desserts, beverages, and candies.

In Central Mexico, the pads have grown as a traditional vegetable since before the Spanish arrived. Today, the pads are available in this country throughout the year in specialty produce sections and at farmer's markets. The smaller young pads in the early spring are the most succulent, delicate in flavor, and have the fewest spines. Fresh pads are full of water and should be bright green and firm. To prepare the pad, simply hold its base and scrape the skin on both sides with a blunt knife until all the spines are removed. Then peel the pads and cut them into shoestring strips or dice them according to the needs of the recipe. They can be eaten raw in salads, boiled and fried like eggplant, pickled with spices, or cooked with shellfish, pork, chilies, tomatoes, eggs, coriander, garlic, and onions.

The flavor of a ripe prickly pear cactus fruit depends on the variety but include strawberries, watermelons, honeydew melons, figs, bananas, and citrus. You can eat them raw, at room temperature or chilled, and alone or with lemon juice. They can be cooked into jams and preserves or cooked down into a syrup as a base for jelly and candy ( the "cactus candy" in some Mexican food stores. This syrup can be reduced even further into a dark red or black paste that is fermented into a potent alcoholic drink called "coloncha." The fruit pulp can be dried and ground into flour for baking into small sweet cakes, or stored for future use.

Individual taste preferences will dictate which varieties to choose for eating fresh and which for cooking. In Mexico alone, there are over 100 species with edible fruits. Sam Williams, a cactus enthusiast in Carmichael, California, says that while all the fleshy fruit kinds are edible and none are poisonous, only a few are palatable and even fewer taste really sweet. They range from juicy to dry and sweet to acid. Cantwell-de-Trejo says that the acidity and fibrousness of the fruits are called "xoconochtlis" and are used in certain traditional Mexican stews and other dishes.

Fruit size, shape, and color vary from small and round like a walnut to three inches long and two inches wide like a rounded cylinder. Skin and flesh come in a rainbow of colors ( white, green, yellow, orange, red, purple, and brown. White-skinned varieties are the most popular in Mexico, says Cantwell-de-Trejo, while the sweetest varieties generally available in this country have dark reddish-orange or purple skins and deep red-purple flesh. The fruit contains about one-half the amount of an orange. According to Cantwell-de-Trejo, this is its most important use in the diet of rural Mexicans.

The fruits ripen from early spring through late fall, depending on the variety. Those that are best for eating fresh ripen from September through November. Charlotte Glenn of Le Marche Seeds International in Dixon, California, who works extensively with gourmet vegetables, says that the perfect stage of ripeness of each fruit lasts only about a week, and the maximum shelf life of a fruit is only eight or nine days. Many of the fruits sold in California are imported from Mexico to extend the market season.

Ashley, George, The Punctured Thumb, or Cactus and Other Succulents, 101 Productions. 1977.

Dawson, E. Yale, The Cacti of California, University of California Press. 1966.

Everett, Thomas, Encyclopedia of Horticulture, The New York Botanical Garden, Rodale Press. 1978.

Hunter, Mel, In Defense of Opuntias, Cactus & Succulent Journal. Vol. 57, September-October. 1985.

Kemp, E. E., Cacti and Succulents, a Practical Handbook, E. P. Dutton and Co., Inc. 1963.

Martin, Margaret , P. R. Chapman and H. A. Auger, Cacti and Their Cultivation. Charles Scribner's Sons. 1971.

Mitich, Larry. Prickly Peat Cactus, Botany Department Cooperative Extension, University of California, Davis, California 95616.


So I've been watching what happens with my Panama reds in relation to fruit set, and have noticed something that almost certainly affects the rate at which fruit will set.

That thing is rain.

I've heard a lot of theories as to why passionfruit set poorly, ranging from lack of Bees, to Ants robbing pollen. This last is  certainly a fallacy, and makes no difference. In fact I'm sure that Ants do in fact increase pollination.

However, rain is going to. Why? Because the pollen of passiflora is delicate. Delicate enough that rain, or even hosing, will wash it away easily.
I know what you're thinking--so what? The rain would just wash the pollen onto the stigma.

Not so. This is because the stigma are positioned at a considerable elevation above the  stamen. Running water which washes off the pollen will almost never reach the stigma at any point. Go and test if for yourself next time your passionfruit is in bloom. Also, next time it rains, go and inspect the stamen--they will be rubbery and totally devoid of pollen--and you'd have to be extremely lucky for any of that to have come into contact with the stigma.

So my advice is don't water your passionfruit leaves/flowers while it's in bloom. Roots only.

Hope this helps.



So I've started building a really big raised bed for my  fruit cacti. They're all various cereus types and opuntia. Tired of seeing them sitting all in pots getting bound.

It's 20 Feet long, 1/12 m wide, 1/2 m deep. Making it from cinderblocks which I'll stucco or something so it doesn't look completely hideous.

I need to to fill it with a good mix, but it needs to be realistically priced. Any thoughts?


What is it? Some kind of copper sulphate type deal?

I've been tossing up whether or not to do this for a while now, but the more I think about it, the less reasons there seem to be not to. I have about an acre of space I could use to do this, and have access to water (property backs onto a freshwater river, which I can pump from at the price of fuel). The market price for dragons seems to stay reasonably stable, and as far as I'm aware, if I did start farming them, it would be the closest operation to the CBD.

I had the power put underground a few years ago now, and have some large telephone poles I can use as growing poles for the vines. How many tonnes I would need to produce to make it worthwhile, or the  time investment involved, I've no idea.

Where should I start? Who should I be talking to?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Taste Report: 'Rowan's Red' Epiphyllum
« on: April 23, 2015, 10:45:12 PM »
So Rowan sent me a few fruits to try this week along with some more cuttings. The fruits this year were not as large as last year--those were the size of large plums. The size of this year's crop is denoted in the images below.


Ok, so first off, this really doesn't taste anything like dragonfruit--at all. The consistency is also very different, and difficult to describe. I would describe it as being jelly-like; similar to silken tofu, but in no way slimy.

Taste: Wow! what really blew me away was how much more intense the flavor is compared to dragonfruit. This immediately hit me because I was expecting this to be about the same in terms of robustness as a red/purple dragon. Not so. This is way, way stronger than that. I would say that it has the same intensity as a jellybean.

As for the flavor itself--and here's the weird part--it tastes so much like passionfruit it is unbelievable. In fact it even smells like passionfruit. In a blind smell test, 9 from 10 people would  ID it as a passionfruit. There's not really any hint of dragonfruit in it at all--and neither any creaminess  like cactus apples ( cereus peruvianus). It isn't as sour as I thought it would be. There is an initial note of sourness which dissipates quickly. No bitterness at all, even in the flesh closest to the skin. About as sweet as a good dragonfruit.

One interesting thing about it is that the taste seems to cling to the palate. I guess what I'm saying is that it lingers--certainly much more than dragonfruit. Normally I wouldn't like this, but this thing is delicious.

There's more flavors in there then passionfruit however, and the two that come mind are lychee, and Ribena. Its like a really firm pudding cup with flavors in the following ratios:

Ribena: 1
lychee: 1

I will absolutely be growing several of these. I am told by Rowan that the mature plant is self fertile and sets a lot of fruit even in its frigid location of Victoria, so in my semi-tropical climate, it should hopefully go nuts.

So my final verdict is that this is pretty awesome. I would rate it at least as good as any dragonfruit I've tried and better than many of them. Certainly it has a more intense and complex flavor. The fact that this thing is spineless, and will fruit in total shade with minimal care is an added bonus, as is the plant's small size. The only con I can think of is the relatively small fruit size ( there were about 3 teaspoon scoops per fruit in the ones displayed)--but again, apparently the fruit get much larger than the ones sent to me, and it is a prolific fruiter.

Will be crossing this with Rixford/ American beauty this year and will grow out the results, but I'd be happy if this thing never changed  :)

Tropical Fruit Discussion / How true are Sapodilla from Seed?
« on: April 14, 2015, 06:23:34 PM »

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Quiz: What Opuntia is This?
« on: April 14, 2015, 03:13:08 AM »

Clue: It's not Brazilian.

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