Malaysia has more than a hundred known species and varieties of edible fruits representing a rich pool of genetic resources. The fruits can de divided into two groups – the first groups consisting of non-seasonal fruits such as the papaya, the banana and the pineapple which are available throughout the year and the second group consisting of seasonal fruits such as the durian, the rambutan and the mangosteen. Commercial cultivation of fruits is still in its infant stage except for the pineapple and banana and more recently durian and mango. Most fruits are normally grown for home consumption and the excess is sold.
Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum)
The rambutan tree is bushy and wide and can grow up to 20 metres in height. Its branches are low spreading and bear twigs with fine hairs. The rambutan tree fruits twice a year. Its fruits are green in colour when unripe turning to yellow or red upon ripening. The rind is covered with soft hairs which are red or yellow.
Pineapple (Ananas comosus)
The pineapple plant consists of leaves with prickles on the leaf margin terminating in an inflorescence. Its fruit is developed from inflorescence, a collection of flowers closely packed together. When fertilised, the flowers begin to swell to form the fruit which is a dark blackish-green when unripe and turns an orange-yellow with some green motting ipon ripening. The edible part of the fruit is pale yellow to yellow depending on the variety.
Durian (Durio zibethinus)
The durian tree which can grow up to 40 metres in height is topped by almost horizontal branches. The durians cary in shape and size. The fruit is covered with coarse sharp pointed thorns and can be divided into 4 to 5 segments, each segment filled with 1 to 7 seed usually 6cm long and 1.5 cm wide. Each seed is embedded in a mass of creamy or yellow coloured pulp which is edible. The locals call this thorny football-size fruit as the ‘King of Fruits’.
Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana)
The mangosteen tree which can grow up to a height of 14 metres has an evenly shaped crown in dense foliage. The mangosteen is round in shape and slightly flattened at both ends. Each fruit has a smooth thick rind which is pale green in colour when unripe and turns to a rich purple colour upon ripening. On opening, the fruit consists of five to eight seeds enclosed in snow white edible pulp.
Mangosteen, the ‘Queen of fruits’ and is believe to be cool (Ying) in nature and will neutralized the heat (Yang) from other fruit. It is round in shape and the skin is light green when it is young and will eventually turn to reddish or dark purple when it is ripe. It takes about 15 years to grow a mangosteen tree before it is mature enough to produce any fruit. The flesh in the fruit is snowy white and nicely arranged in segmental form. Each fruit will have normally 6-10 segments inside. It is delicately tasted and soft.
Carambola (Averrhoa carambola)
The carambola tree which can grow up to 15 metres in height, has a rounded top with an open canopy. Flowers are produced in panicles on the twigs all the year round. The fruits are deeply ridged and are five-angled. The carambola is smooth, shiny and waxy. The unripe fruits are green, tuning to a yellow or orange at maturity. The yellow flesh isd usually soft and juicy with the flat seed embedded in the centre.
Banana (Musa sapientum)
The banana plant is herbaceous in nature with a basal corm and s pseudosteen. The inflorescence is made up of a stout flower stalk with flowers arranged in clusters of two rows. Each cluster is covered by a reddish spathe or bract. The fruits are arranged at the base of the inflorescence stalk in the same manner as the flowers. The unripe fruits are green in colour and turn to golden yellow or orange upon ripening.
Kuini (Mangifera odorata)
The kuini belongs to the mango family. The kuini tree which has a tall trunk and a thick round crown can grow to a height of up to 30 metres. The trees usually flower and fruit after the fourth year. Kuini fruits are succulent and yellowish green in colour when ripe. Thefruit is a big fleshy drupe with edible pulp which is orange in colour and a stony layer around the seed.
Papaya (Carica papaya)
The papaya tree is a fast growing plant with a hollow and non-woody trunk which can grow up to 10 metres in height. This plants are usually dioecious. The papaya varies greatly in size and shape. The fruit is a large fleshy hollow berry. The central cavity is normally surrounded by small seeds but seedless fruits also occur. The flesh of the papaya is juicy and varies in colour from yellow to pinkish red.