Tropical Fruit Information
Fruit Trees -- C
Fruiting Trees, Shrubs and Herbaceous Plants -- C
++ Indicates that this is a variety or a species that is found in our arboretum, but not often stocked in our nursery. Inquire about availability. If we do not have it in stock, we can put you on our "waitlist" and call you when we have it available.
Chrysophyllum caimitoCaimito produces a round, purple fruit 2-4 inches in diameter. The skin and rind are inedible and contain latex, but the pulp is soft, purple and white, and sweet. It is good eaten fresh or mixed with other fruits. The tree is beautiful with bronze leaf undersides and does well in any well-drained soil. It fruits in five to ten years from seed or possibly the first year if grafted. Fruit may be produced from late winter or early spring to early summer. Fruit is often lost due to defoliation from cold. Mature trees are seriously injured at 28º F and young trees may be killed by a short time of 31º F. We have a tree planted in our arboretum and another in the landscaped area between our library and office building.
FCFS available. Canistel is also called eggfruit since the flesh resembles a hard-boiled egg yolk in color and texture. The fruit is usually sweet and some varieties have a musky aroma. The fruit is good eaten fresh or made into delicious eggnog-like milk shakes by blending with milk. The fruit is high in niacin and carotene and moderate in vitamin C. The tree seldom grows to more than 25¢ high. It tolerates poor soils and may even fruit better on thin soils. Trees are almost always healthy and nearly pest-free. Fruit production starts in 3 to 6 years from seed and sooner from grafted trees in December through May. A tree in a 30-gallon pot at ECHO has produced well for several years. Young trees can be killed if temperatures drop below 29ºF; mature trees can withstand 23ºF for a short time. There are trees located in the east end of ECHO's arboretum.
'Bruce' This cultivar fruits August - October and February - March. Fruits have dry flesh, are large and are of fair eating quality.
'Trompo' (formerly 9681) is a University of Florida selection. The fruit is large, sweet and has excellent texture.
FCFS available. This is one of the most productive fruit trees. If you only know the sour fruit from backyard seedling trees, be sure to try the sweet grafted varieties! Fruit from grafted trees is one of the fastest growing new exports from Florida. Cross sections of the fruit make attractive yellow stars, giving rise to its alternate name of star fruit. Carambola has a thin skin and crisp, juicy, non-fibrous flesh. Usually there are two major blooms - one in April - May and another in September - October, with harvests June through February with peaks during August - October and December - February. The fruit can be eaten fresh, juiced, canned or dried. Under good conditions, mature trees can yield 200-300 lbs. of fruit per year. Flowers are small, pink and showy and attract a lot of bees. Seedling carambola trees can become large (ECHO has one over 30 feet). But they will fruit when young and even in a container. Soil should be well drained and slightly acid. Irrigation during drought is beneficial. Temperatures of 29º F can kill young trees. Large trees only lose leaves and small branches with short periods of 26-28º F. Our trees at ECHO produced fruit during the summer of 1997 after suffering extensive damage from the January freeze when temperatures stayed between 24-26º F for over 8 hours. Carambola will thrive in partial shade. The ridges of the fruit have concentrated levels of oxalic acid and should be cut off when serving the fruit. You can see several seedling trees to the north of the entrance to the nursery parking lot, and sweet varieties of grafted trees are near the duck pond, west of Mount Victor.
'Arkin' is the dominant cultivar in South Florida carambola orchards. Though lacking a deep orange color, yields are high, flavor is good and it handles shipping better than most other selections.
'Bell' bears large. Yellow-skinned fruit of excellent quality and flavor. The fruit are deeply winged and thus are susceptible to wind damage and scarring. Highly recommended for home production.
++'ECHO #1' is a seedling of 'Arkin' but looks more like 'Fwang Tung' with its pale yellow color. From initial evaluation in 1994 it is sweeter and has better flavor, but less color than the commercial variety.
'Fwang Tung' is a non-acid, pleasant tasting cultivar that bears short, stout, arrowhead-shaped fruit that is somewhat asymmetrical. The skin is light yellow when ripe, but Fwang Tung is mild enough to be eaten when green, as is the preference in some cultures.
'Hart' is a white-skinned cultivar, pearlike in flavor, described as sweet and delicious. Fruits are small and delicate. Trees are small and easy to manage.
'Kary' is sweeter than 'Arkin' and has more color and better flavor. Fruit is long and very juicy, but it is less crunchy than Arikin and Sri Kambangum. Skin is bright orange-yellow and of high-quality. Kary was selected at the University of Hawaii from a Malaysian clone. Highly recommended
'Sri Kambangum' looks similar to 'Arkin' with gold-coloring and uniform shape. Fruit is crunchy, and very sweet. It may become the new leading commercial variety. Local Nursery owners rate this variety number one.
Carissa macrocarpa, Carissa grandiflora
If you are in the market for a fruiting security shrub, carissa is a good candidate. Native to South Africa, and growing to 15 feet tall, it is loaded with small sharp thorns. Carissa leaves are ovate, glossy, dark green and leathery. The small, yet attractive white flowers are borne for much of the year, but flowering and fruiting is most heavy from May to September. The fruit, up to 2 ½ inches in length, is oblong in shape, tender and juicy, with a hint of strawberry taste. If eaten when unripe, the latex in the fruit is rather unpleasant. When ripe, the fruits are magenta-red in color, and make good jellies and pies. Carissa tolerates both flooding and drought, and mature plants can tolerate 26º F.
Psidium cattleianum, syns. Psidium littorale; Psidium chinense
Cattley Guava is one of the most outstanding edible hedges for Southern Florida as it is cold hardy to about 22º F. The red cattley guava tends to be a compact, bushy shrub whereas the yellow cattley guava has a more upright and open growth habit. Both make very nice container plants, as they will bear heavily in a pot. The fruits are about one inch long and are aromatic, spicy, subacid, and strawberry-like. They are not musky like regular guavas, but are seedy. They can be eaten fresh or made into jam, jelly, butter, or sherbet. The plant likes limestone and poor soils, but may produce more if grown on good soil and mulched. Fruit flies often attack the fruit. It tolerates a high water table, but may be killed by flooding. We have several trees on our property, some located in the landscaped area between the office building and the library.
FCFS available: "Selected Eugenia Species." This fruit is somewhat similar to sweet cherries in flavor. The fruit is about one inch long, has a thin, tender, dark red skin and ripens April through June. Fruiting starts in about 2 to 5 years. This evergreen tree grows to about 15 feet has upright growth and attractive foliage and bark. It can survive short periods of 20º F. It is the most cold tolerant of ECHO's Eugenia species (Surinam cherry, pitomba, etc).
Chocolate Pudding Tree
see Black Sapote
see Red Mombin
FCFS available. Southwest Florida is an excellent environment for growing citrus. Trees will perform best in sunny locations and well-drained soil. At ECHO we have over 65 varieties of citrus trees planted. These varieties bear during different months; when you visit ECHO you can taste the fruits that are currently ripe. The following charts will help you choose from the many varieties we sell in the nursery. With only a few trees in your yard, you can have citrus fruit available all year. If you are not a permanent resident, take into consideration the varieties that are bearing during the months that you will be here and select accordingly. If you would like to take a potted tree up north, we have indicated a few trees better suited for container growing. Most if not all of the citrus varieties we carry are planted somewhere on our property. If you like, please ask to see a mature example of the tree you wish to purchase.
Sweet Oranges (Citrus sinensis) may be one of the most popular fruits in the world. They originate from southern China, southeastern Asia, and northeastern India. These trees may withstand short periods with temperatures as low as 24°F.
Tangelos (Citrus paradisi × C. reticulata, Citrus × tangelo) are grapefruit / tangerine hybrids that are often juicy, but do not have a long shelf life. All starred (*) fruits require a pollenizer tree planted within 100 ft.
Mandarins (including Tangerines and Mandarin hybrids) Citrus reticulata and Tangors (C. reticulata × C. sinensis): Mandarins are a class of thin-skinned, usually easy-to-peel citrus. Traditionally, tangerines are red-orange mandarins, but today the name is loosely applied to many different mandarins. Tangors are tangerine / sweet orange hybrids. All starred (*) fruits require a pollenizer tree planted within 100 ft.
Grapefruits, Citrus paradisi, grow vigorously and can become large oak-sized trees. They can be excellent shade trees. Fruit can be harvested over an extended season because crop stores well on the tree. Once established, grapefruit trees are generally more cold hardy than other citrus. The following varieties are arranged in order of flesh color, lightest to darkest.
Pummelo(Citrus maxima, syn. C. grandis, C. decumena), the largest citrus in the world, is often mistaken for its descendent the grapefruit. Fruits are usually between 4.5 to 10 inches in diameter, and may be round or pear shaped. A thick, soft rind that can be as thick as 1.5 inches envelops the flesh, which ranges in hue from white to deep red. The distinctive rind of the pummelo increases the shelf life of this citrus for up to six months-that is longer than any other citrus fruit. Each segment contains hardy "juice sacs", that easily separate from the segment wall-wedges maintain shape well and can be eaten out-of-hand or added to fruit salads. As a landscaping tree, the pummelo is a bushy, spreading evergreen with a weeping habit induced by the weight of large fruit. Vigorous growth requires management to prevent the boughs from becoming too leggy to support the fruit.
Unusual Citrus: Generally smaller trees that make excellent ornamental additions to a landscape. The kumquats and kumquat hybrids are small fruits with edible skin. These unusual fruits are excellent right off the tree, but most often used in canning and culinary arts. All grow well and fruit as containerized trees.
Seven varieties of citrus are recommended
|Choice #1||Choice #2|
Table 3 Fruiting seasons in southwest Florida for citrus cultivars, arranged by citrus fruit categories, as described in the text on pages 3 to 15.
(Lemons & Limes)
|Var. Pink Lemon|
|Unusual Citrus||Buddha's Hand|
Cuban Mangosteen is an ornamental tree native to Brazil. The trees bear yellow, subacid fruits one inch in diameter that are used fresh or for jam. Because this tree bears very sharp-tipped leaves, it would work splendidly as a barrier to intruders in front of a window. The top half of our tree died back in the freeze of '97 when the temperature at ECHO was 24º F.
Initially we thought that this was more of a curiosity than a great tasting fruit, though it had borne until this year (2002) very few fruits. When we harvested some this April (2002) we could not believe the beautiful and great tasting fruit inside. The eye appeal and the taste were superb. Interestingly, it is ripe when few tropical fruits are in season and months after the sugar apples and atemoyas (other members of the Annona family) are finished. The fruit's flesh is snow white in the interior with ends that resemble, according to our director, "mashed raspberries stirred into ice cream." It may take several years for the tree to start producing good-quality fruit, but when it does, it will be worth the wait! This is the second tree in our Annona row in our arboretum behind the nursery trailer.