From the Archives
of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by Gene Joyner, Tropical Fruit News
The red mombin is a handsome, deciduous tree, native to tropical
America and commonly planted throughout Central and South America. The
tree grows to a height of about thirty five feet with stiff brittle
branches and dark green pinnate leaves, six to nine inches long with
seventeen or more small, one-half to one-and-one-half inch leaflets.
are commonly propagated in the tropics by large hardwood cuttings which
can be planted at any time; in fact, it is one of the more popular
trees used for living fences throughout the regions in which it is
The deep red flowers are quite attractive and are
produced on wood from the previous season, and the dark red fruits
which ripen in early summer are borne in small bunches. Fruits can vary
in size and shape, but usually are somewhat oval, one to two inches in
length and have a very juicy, sub-acid pulp which surrounds a rather
large seed. Fruit is commonly eaten fresh or used for jellies and other
Trees seem to have few natural pest problems and grow
well over a wide variety of soils. Here in Florida, the biggest problem
with them is low temperatures which can injure trees during periods of
severe freezes. Usually, though, trees are not killed and after a hard
pruning in the spring, they make a recovery the following year.
addition to the red-fruited form, there is also a form which has yellow
fruits which is grown in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The
variety differs only in color and the fruit flavor is identical to that
of the red-fruited form.
Trees introduced into Florida are all
female trees, and seeds from fruit trees in Florida are not viable and
will not grow. This limits propagation strictly to vegetative means -
either air-layering or hardwood cuttings.
The red mombin is
found in increasing numbers throughout South Florida because of the
increasing Latin population which is quite familiar with it and has
great appreciation for its quality.
Trees in landscape
situations should be planted where they have good drainage and
protection from cold winds if possible. Trees should be fertilized two
to three times a year for optimum growth and fruiting and periodically
it helps to prune back trees to renew wood and increase fruit
Due to their susceptibility to being broken up by
high windstorms, trees should be planted in areas sheltered by
buildings or other more wind-resistant trees. These trees will not take
high amounts of salt wind, so if planted close to oceanfront areas,
they should be sheltered by buildings or other, more salt-tolerant
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