One of the most popular fruit producing trees in Brazil (and the Fruit & Spice Park) is the Jaboticaba, Myrciaria cauliflora. Jaboticaba fruits are round, dark colored fruits that look and taste a lot like grapes but with a tough, thick skin. The tree can produce five crops each year but here at the Park we enjoy two, sometimes three crops in a year. The trees are considered large shrubs, or small trees with coppery, peeling bark that like a lot of water and sun. They prefer an acid soil that is high in organic matter but can grow here in our alkaline south Florida soils if given lots of mulch and the proper nutrition. Most jaboticaba fruit is eaten fresh but is also made into jellies, jams, and wine. An easy way to eat jaboticaba is to squeeze the ripe fruit between your thumb and forefinger until it pops free from the skin and into your mouth! Jaboticaba trees at the Fruit & Spice Park can be found east of the banana collection along the pathway.
Despite looking and tasting like grapes, jaboticaba do not grow like grapes, that is, on the new growth of a vine. The jaboticaba flowers and fruits directly on the trunk and major branches of the tree in a growth trait known as cauliflory. This type of flowering is most often seen in tropical forests of the world. It is believed that trees developed this type of flowering and fruiting pattern to hold the heavy fruits that the trees produce. (Can you imagine a heavy jackfruit out the end of a thin branch?) The fruits are also more accessible to climbing mammals, bats, and birds that eat the fruits and spread the seeds throughout the forest.
You may recognize other trees in the park that exhibit cauliflory:
Jack Fruit, Cacao, Cluster Fig, Papaya, and Candle Fruit.
Keep an eye out for other fruits in the Park in the month of February.
Bael fruit – Aegle marmelos
Bangar nut – Sterculia foetida
Bixa –Bixa orellano
Black Sapote – Diospyros nigra
Candle fruit – Parmentiera cereifera
Canistel – Pouteria campechiana
Coconut – Cocos nucifera
Carambola –Averrhoa carambola
Ceylon Gooseberry – Dovyalis hebecarpa
Gamboge – Garcinia tinctoria
Guiana Chestnut – Pachira aquatica
Jujube – Zizyphus spp.
Mamey Sapote – Pouteria sapota
Monstera – Monstera deliciosa
Sapodilla – Manilkara sapodilla