Monday, November 8, 2010

Fruits and their flowers

 We, as in most of us, have always been posting flowers and ornamental plants here. There are some who posts vegetable flowers, but of course many flowers we eat are vegetables, e.g. cauliflower, broccolli, etc. Only a few posted fruits and flowers of fruits. Since i already have some of them, i might as well share them with you. Moreover, most of the bloggers are from temperate climes, so they might not be very familiar with how the tropical fruits look like, moreso with their flowers.

Oh this could be a good project for school children, i might as well expand it to cover more fruits. Who knows, a coffee table book on this purpose might also be a good idea, but who will finance that, i don't know. But i am sure, that kind of book, or a reference book will be very helpful most especially for children. Since these are tropical fruits, temperate country readers will benefit from this too. Who cares?

Soursop, Anona muricata, or locally called 'guyabano'. Its flowers arise from the main trunk, or branches. This manner of producing flowers is called cauliflorous, you are right, just like cauliflower. Jackfruit, durian, figs, lansones are all cauliflorous plants.

The flesh is white with black seeds. The flesh when fully ripe can be eaten as that, or can be made into shakes or juice. It can also be blended with some other juices. Just recently, it has been internationally reported to have very good health properties.

Anatto, Bixa orellana, or locally called 'achuete'. It is fascinating that it is called achiote in other parts of the world. As this is native to South America, maybe this is an introduced species centuries ago when Spaniards colonized our country, reason we have the name Philippines. In the current publication of the International Society for Horticultural Sciencd (ISHS), four varieties are being cultivated. Varieties vary in color of the pods. The red-brown pods are good also as an ornamental.

 It is used for flavoring or coloring food dishes to yellow or orange. Those green pods turn dark brown or black when dry and the seeds inside are soaked in water or oil to extract the color. It is now a favored coloring when chemical food colors are claimed to be bad for the health. The white flowers are beautiful though.

We have 2 big plants in our property, which we cut because they are shading a big area depriving many smaller plants in between. Anyway, it is not that useful for us and nobody buys it too.

Coconut, Cocos nucifera. This crop is very familiar to many, but i am sure only a few knows about how its flower looks like. The first 2 photos are the coconut inflorescence. The pod-like structure opens to several spikes containing the individual flowers. The top of the inflorescence contains the males, while the lower parts are the females.  A few fertilized ovules become the coconut that we are familiar with, as shown above. Inside individual coconut fruits is a solid endosperm, where we get the coconut oil and liquid endosperm, which we drink as juice from the young coconuts.

Lots of food, health and industrial benefits come from this crop. Coconut oil, aside from its use in cooking,  has been the craze now for its health benefits, and our country has been exporting lots of Virgin Coconut Oil to the US, Europe,  and others. All parts of coconuts are not wasted as everything has importance. The midribs of the leaves are used for making decors and for making brooms. The trunk specifically can be made into furnitures, floor parquets and a house like the above, which is made from coconut trunks and cement.


  1. Andrea this is so interesting and your photos are so good. I never really thought of cauliflower and broccoli being flowers but now that I think of it they are. Would brussel sprouts be aswell? I love that cute little house and I never would have realised what materials were used to build it.

  2. Great captures and Interesting Idea. Inspiring and informative post as always.

  3. I agree a very interesting post especially as I live in a different climate here in NY State...I wanted to let you know that the National Geographic Special on Migrations is a 7 parter with 2 parts every Sunday and then repeats....Michelle

  4. Hi Andrea, My son attempted to use the coconut husk to cook. He saw his scout friends doing it as a test in school. Took them 5 hours to get the food cooked. My neighbour used the coconuts as a bowling ball as well as bowling pins. My dogs just slowing chew them apart to retrieve coir. Did you know I had a post on coconut yesterday?

  5. When I was little, we had a sour sop tree and I love to eat the fruits. At first I thought Anatto is a rambutan tree from your picture. Your shot on the coconut flower is very clear and well done. It is difficult to photograph them since the flowers are always high up on the tree.

    I always marvel at the traditional coconut tree climbers who used only a rope to climb up the tree. In the villages here, some people use the young flowers to make 'toddy', an alcoholic drink. We can also use toddy to make desserts (kueh).

  6. Andrea, some of this I have never heard of before. How fortunate to have such a vast variety available to you. Thank you for visiting my blog. How hot are your summers? Are they humid?

  7. Qasar - this is your first visit here, i hope you will come again and read the contents somehow.

    Rosie of leavesnbloom - Brussel sprouts maybe just sprouts or vegetative parts and not flowers. Thanks for appreciating my photos.

    Birdy - i just post whatever comes to mind, and i post spontaneously because i am a bit impatient, so no research nor edits, hehe, sorry about that.

    Michelle of Rambling Woods - thanks for your visit and information about NG. I actual post those which i am sure might be special for this part of the world, and not so common in temperate countries

  8. One - i already put the link here as a postscript, read yours yesterday before posting this last night but i forgot to comment. Coconut husks must be surely very dry before using, and coming from mature brown coconuts, not from the young immature green ones. They are divided to pieces for easy use, but burns very quickly so must have lots of them to be put immediately before the last one is extinguished to ensure continuous flame and heat. It is not advisable to use, especially if the one using it is not knowledgeable and resourceful. Husk is different from the shell, which is harder and better perform as fuel.

    Autumn Belle - yes annatto looks like immature rambutan. Actually the flowers i used are from felt plant, so easy to shoot. The young immature shoots can be made into special vegetable delicacy salad. It can either be raw or blanched when fresh. As i said, every part of coconut has economic advantage. Toddy is used in many ways: fresh as "tuba" for men or "liquor", or raw fermented sap. It is now used to make coconut sugar, which we now export and good for diabetics because it has low glycemic index. Further fermentation turn it into a very delicious vinegar. There are still more uses.

    Shirley - thanks also for stopping by, i hope you will come again. Our summers are hot and humid. Temps like above 30C sometimes getting to 40C, but that is seldom.

  9. Thanks Andrea. I've put a link to yours. In my son's school, the older scouts used coconut shell as a pot and not as fuel. I believe they used the hard shell and not the entire coconut with husk and all. Guess what is the word verification for me now....huske. :)

  10. Very informative post! I love the flavor of the Soursop, and I like that house made of Coconut!

  11. I've never heard of soursop. Must be delicious! I've done a post on coconut too but my pictures of the inflorescence weren't as good as yours:( Loved seeing the details. And that house is so cute!

  12. Nice informational post. Never seen a soursop tree, but I dislkike that taste. Annato is something new to me, really looks like an immature rambutan. I've only seen dried coconut flowers on trees, never a live one.

  13. Andrea! Thank you for stopping by my blog which led me here to your blog! It is always interesting to roam the world through the click of our computers!
    I am thrilled to see the native soursop because I have a sterling silver jewellery business that I sell on line and one of my pendants is made from ebony wood and the soursop Leaf resin!! see here:

    It is the black pendant which I wear with a black leather necklace or sterling silver necklace!

    It is a plaeasure to meet you!

  14. Your photos are gorgeous Andrea. Thanks for the visit, hope to know you well.

  15. Nice picture as well as very informative. I got your link from One.
    I have tried young coconut cooked with 'Tomyam soup' in Thailand. It is very delicious! At my young age i ate immature coconut shell with 'sambal paste' (dried chili with prawn paste), it really nice.Don't know how to describe it...but it's crunchy.

  16. So interesting, Andrea! We are constantly seeing new fruits introduced here, but I've never heard of soursop or anatto before. And while I love anything with coconut, I've never seen the flowers before. I grow a few vegetables just for their appearance--ruffled kale looks very pretty in my garden right now, but I'm not going to eat it:)

    Thanks for commenting on my last post--while my garden looks pretty sad right now, I do like living in an area where there are four distinct seasons. The best part is starting over fresh every spring!

  17. Grower Jim - yes the soursop has a very distinct aroma which somehow needs getting used to. It is a cousin of the custard apple, they have the same first name Anona, hehe.

    Kanak - maybe you have soursop there in India as it is thriving in hot climes and very easy to grow. Actually they just grow voluntarily in our orchards.

    Aaron - yes soursop might be an exotic plant and you will not find it in city gardens, maybe in your country farms though. Yes not many people like it too. I dont eat it too when i was younger, but like it now when chilled.

    Naturegirl - i went to your business site and i like the looks of the soursop resin pendant. where do you get your materials and why are they called resin?

    chubskulit - thanks for coming over too.

    Orchid de dangau - the only part which is not used in this country is the immature coconut shell, it is amazing that it can be eaten too. Yes i can imagine it is nice, maybe a bit bitter with its tannin content.

    Rose - you might have been eating food with annato as it is used in many food colors and preparations, you just might not be aware. Soursop juice is now canned and sometimes in combination with other juices.

  18. very neat post! I didn't know the coconut inflorences looked like that.

    We had soursop in St. Lucia where we got married. I wish I could remember what it tasted like...Are they also called christophines? Or maybe that's another fruit we tried...

  19. Wendy - it's my first time to hear the word christophines, i dont know if it's a different fruit or the same. I tried to google it and it is chayote or Sechium edule. It is a vegetable which we have here too, with the same name.

    We also have different local names for soursop as "guyabano" or "atis kastila". Kastila to us means Spaniard or Spanish, which seem to show that guyabano could have been introduced by the Spaniards centuries ago when they first came here. Origin for guyabano is Latin America as i googled it. The original name is "guanabana", which sounds similar to our guayabano or guyabano. Isn't it amazing how the word remained almost the same thru centuries!

  20. I was so surprised to see the coconuts andits flowers in your photos. The ones we grow here look quite different, both in the shape of the coconut (which is more rounded and not so pointy at the tip) and the colour of the flowers which are more golden in the ones here. The flavour, Im sure remains the same :)

  21. A fascinating post! So great to learn about some DIFFERENT plants. The ones you describe are worlds apart from the ones I am used to.


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