A yellow heart-shaped fruit covered in soft thorn like structures is becoming a favourite of Kerala orchards. The tropical fruit, which has its origins from tropical South America, is commonly knows as Rollinia deliciosa or Biriba in Brazil. The fruit also has another common name – the lemon meringue pie fruit. The name might have came from the pie-like soft, mushy, and sweet flesh of it that tastes very similar to the dessert.
Rollinia is a large tropical fruit that belongs to the family of custard apples. The soft flesh of ripe rollinia tastes extremely sweet. This fruit that stands out for its bright yellow colour is also called biriba in Brazil.
Interestingly, rollinia mucosa and rollinia delicosa are the two types that are commonly seen in Kerala. The fruit becomes ready to be plucked when it turns yellow in colour. The thorns would be blackened in case the fruits are too ripe.
The soft and pulpy flesh could be scooped out using a spoon and enjoyed as it is. The pulp is white in colour and has a light fragrance too. The seeds, meanwhile, have to be discarded. Delicious dishes can be made using the tasty rollinia pulp. In Brazil, wines are made from it. Loaded with calcium and phosphorous, rollinia is known for its high vitamin C and iron content too. Besides, it also contains protein, carbohydrates and amino acids like lysine, threonine and tryptophan. The fruit could grow up to 20 cm wide and weigh up to one and half kilos. Rollinia, that has its origins in the Amazon forests has reached India via the Americas, Philippines and Indonesia. The tropical climate in Kerala is perfect for the plant.
Even though the rollinia that grow from seeds begins to flower in the second year, it usually bears fruits only from the third year onwards. As it continues to bloom throughout the year, rollinia fruits could be harvested at least four times a year. The fruits could be plucked two months after the trees bloom. Around 30 kilos of rollinia fruits could be harvested from an adult tree, in a single season.
This fruit bearing tree grows swiftly and could grow up to 13-49 feet tall. The fruits that are usually circular or cylindrical in shape would stay green until it ripens. As rollinia fruits do not have longer shelf life, they are not suitable for large scale commercial production. However, various varieties of the fruit that can be stored up to 3-7 days are available.
Rollinia is a perfect fruit bearing tree to be grown in your landscape or garden. Even though this tropical tree loves sun light, it could be grown under shade too. Besides, rollinia trees could be grown in low lands too as it can survive the floods. The saplings could be grown by sowing seeds or using budding and grafting methods. The timber of rollinia tree is used in some countries to make boats.
Courtesy: Ainet Farm, Arunoottimangalam. Phone – 9846998625
(With inputs from Manorama Karshakashree)