Monday, April 25, 2011

Summer Blooms and Fruits: uncommon?

Most of you already very well know that here in the Philippines, we only have two (2) distinct seasons, the dry and the wet. The dry starts in Mar or April and ends in May or June. Our dry season really means dry, as in real dry! Grasses and weeds become brown, other tree leaves also drop off and others sometimes die.  Some of you are familiar with my last year's post, because you pity our fruit trees and orchids that did not withstand it. We have lanzones, avocado and citrus trees that died. Clayey soils cracks and agriculture goes to the least production, except for a very few areas where supplemental water is available.

There are also fruits and ornamental trees that give us much colors in terms of flowers and fruits. Some of the most common are the fire trees (Delonix regia), golden shower (Casia fistula) and some others. I am posting here some of the least known trees, and not many people are familiar with these.

dry season soil cracks killing those newly planted rice plants

grasses are almost fully brown (can you see that bird a little bit depressed?)

octopus plant/umbrella plant, Brassaia actinophyla or Schefflera actinophyla

I remember this plant since first year in college, when i first saw it. I was so impressed with the long leaves nicely arranged like that! From then on i never forgot its name. This tree is planted at the ground behind our office building.

makopa (Tagalog) or tambis (Visayan) (Syzygium samarangense and/or S. malaccensis)

Makopa or tambis fruit is bell shaped with a waxy skin, so it is sometimes called wax apple.  It has several cultivars as pink, white, green and purple. It has a crisp, light, cottony or spongy white pulp that is mild in flavor, sometimes sweet or moderately sweet. This tree is at the back of our office, and you can see the fruits which fell on the ground. Only a few people like this fruit especially because there are more delicious fruits around. I remember there are bigger cultivars in Thailand, which are nicely arranged in sidewalk stalls.

I found this cultivar at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife, Quezon City, which already grown big from the nursery plastic container. It was supposed to be transplanted in a different site, but maybe neglect of the caretaker did not deter it to grow and fruit in season. We tasted the most ripe fruits and it is sweeter than moderate. A scale of 1-5 gives it a 3.5! (Can you detect the 0.5 difference?). Compared to the first variety, the latter's fruits are smaller, around 2-3cm, but they are so pretty changing colors as they ripen, from greenish to white and dark pink.

The above fruit cluster is not yet fully ripe, i just put it on the rock for a more dramatic contrast! Even if they are not as delicious as other fruits, they certainly provide a very lovely color in the garden. And the birds will not reject them too!

Note: there seems to be a problem yet with the differences in the classification: S. samarangense and S. malaccensis). A reference says S. samarangense is smaller than malaccensis, however i found there are still more species. A botanist may arrive next time to clarify these differences. I wonder if Phil of Digital botanic gardens will be able to straighten this out.

Thanks to Michelle for hosting  Nature Notes



  1. What a pity that you can't get some rain during the dry season! It's so sad to see plants dying.
    The Schefflera is used in Sweden as a potted h ouse plant - I like the foliage a lot!

  2. I purposely went in search of this plant. I have it in a huge pot for a year now. The fruits can be sweet depending... It tastes really good with 'rojak' sauce.

  3. Hi Andrea...I put up the Nature Notes on Wednesday and then take all the photos and make it into a collage over the weekend and I think that is what you were looking at. The link will be a Mr. Linky and I left a link to last week's Nature Notes post so you could see it.. Love to have you...Michelle

  4. Hi Andrea, Dry seasons are hard on everything in nature... When we have droughts here, even the big shade trees struggle from lack of water..

    I know you will be GLAD when the dry season is OVER.


  5. aloha andrea..

    wow that is really bone dry, at least the season is relatively short..the waxy apple looks beautiful, we have something similar here and mine has a rose scented taste to it.

  6. they predicted a very dry summer for us here, hopefully we won't suffer that much
    btw, I'm not a fun of makopa but the tree is just beautiful to look at.

  7. dry is right...we are having too much rain...very interesting plants...

  8. :) Andrea, I was merely showing how surprise at how incredibly dry it gets there. I had no idea!

    The phrase Holy Cow definitely is American, and doesn't mean anything about holy or cow, but means amazement! lol.

    With my plant, unfortunately, even in my own area nobody knew common or scientific name. Its a problem when nursery's hire people that really don't know plants at all. But common around here.

  9. That ground looks so parched Andrea - it's a wonder they even tried to plant those crops knowing how dry the next few months would be.

    Those fruits are such interesting shapes and colours.

    I was thinking of you this morning as there was a snippet on the radio about Alamid coffee and I was wondering if you had ever tasted it as it is about 14 UK pounds per cup here to drink....... though I think it would be rare to find many places selling it here. The process to ground the coffee is..........kinda interesting too don't you think - have you ever blogged about it?

  10. Wow, we only see the paler version around here. Those red wax apples look most tempting!

  11. Those lovely red fruits we call water jambu (eugenia aquea), some are sweet, some are a bit sourish but still they are good to eat with hot spicy sauce or salt. Here also I see everywhere they are in season now.

  12. I enjoy makopa dipped in salt. My sister has a tree that bears white makopa and its fruit is very sweet even if it barely turns pink.

  13. You are right there are other better summer fruits than makopa. But it has its own distinct taste that is enhanced with the addition of salt.

    I've been deprived of our local fruits for so long that now I'm even craving for makopa...LOL

  14. We call these water apples. They are my son's favourite.

  15. excellent and short write-up on eating fruits of summer instead of consuming coke or pepsi to quinch the thurst.

  16. Oh, your article reminded me of our macopa tree. Sadly, we cut it down a several years ago coz its in the middle of our lot and a neighbor's property, they didnt appreciated the fruits and shades it provides. According to pregnant neighbors, their babies got their pinkish cheeks "dahil pinaglihi nila sa macopa ang bata". I wonder if that's true but the they have proof when they show us the babies, they really have pinkish cheeks. That's the happy part of it :-P .
    I am going to find a variety that can be planted in pots. I am even going to write an article about this plant as well, missed our macopa tree that much.


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