From the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by Gene Joyner, Urban Horticulturist


Seasons in Australia are opposite to those in the US.  Summer is Dec. Jan. Feb. Autumn is Mar. Apr. May. Winter is June July Aug. Spring is Sept. Oct. Nov.

Canistel

Scientific name: Pouteria campechiana
Family: Sapotaceae


Egg Fruit

The egg fruit is one of the nicer, medium-sized tropical fruits for dooryard plantings in Central and South Florida. This beautiful evergreen, open-growing tree is native to Central America and can grow to a height of almost 40 feet if it is not injured by cold weather. Leaves are 4 to 8 inches long, light to dark green with prominent veins. Leaves or branches, if cut, have a clear, milky sap which is an easy way of identification of this tree. Small greenish-white flowers in small clusters are produced from late spring through early fall and the fruits mature primarily September through March. The tree has excellent wind tolerance and fairly good salt tolerance. It is easily grown over a wide range of soil and moisture conditions, however, it does prefer the fall season but also some flowering occurs during the late spring.

Most fruits mature during the fall and winter months and fruit size is quite variable and also the shape can be quite different depending on the variety. Most egg fruit vary in shape from round to shaped like a top and are generally orange or yellow-orange in color. The fruits can be eaten fresh or they can be used for milk shakes, pies and other desserts. The fruit has generally a very thin skin and the color of the egg yolk on the inside (hence the name 'egg fruit') with the flesh varying from moist and delicious to very dry and almost inedible. Most egg fruits can be grown very easily from seed, however, for preferred varieties it is better to graft or air layer.

Most seeds take 3 to 6 months to come up and take up to 3 to 4 years to reach bearing age. Some improved varieties are the Ross, Bruce, Aurea, Joyner everbearing and Hume. Superior varieties are usually grafted or airlayered. Grafted or air layered trees usually provide fruit the next season.

Trees grow quickly, often three to four feet a year, and prefer slightly acid soils for best growth. On highly alkaline soils, micronutrient deficiencies may occur which may require treatment with nutritional sprays. Salt tolerance is fair to good with this tree, but it should be protected from really exposed areas close to salt water. Trees are tolerant of cold once they reach 8 to 10 feet but will get injured at temperatures below 28°F. Young trees should be protected from temperatures below 30 degrees.

Fertilize egg fruit trees much like citrus, 3 to 4 times a year with a good balanced complete fruit tree type fertilizer. Occasionally in the home landscape, scale insects and rust disease might infest trees but usually cause no serious problems. Trees tend to be very upright growing, particularly when small, but can be kept pruned to the size of a large shrub and still produce abundant quantities of fruit.

Trees normally have few problems once they are well-established. Occasional problems such as scale insects may affect trees, but usually these are not serious enough to kill it. For a medium sized tree that produces large quantities of fruit, there aren't too many others that can beat the Canistel/egg fruit.



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Bibliography

Joyner, Gene. "Canistel." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia.  Article from RFCI Inc. Newsletter Jan. '88. July 1988. Web. 23 Dec. 2014.

Photograph

Dott, Chester. "Canistel". 2006. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. rfcarchives.org.au. Web. 23 Dec. 2014.

Published 23 Dec. 2014 LR
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