Monday, January 5, 2009

'Little Clouds' fruit

I have peeled half of the soft leathery skin of the fruit to show its succulent fleshy pulp. In scientific literature the pulpy covering of the seed is called aril. Here the aril resembles remotely
'little clouds' which in Greek is 'nephelium', hence the fruit is called Naphelium lappaceum.
I harvest these from one of the tallest nephelium trees at my farm today. But the tree I selected is unique because it is of the wild species type.
How do you eat the fruit? First remove the skin by twisting with boths hands. Then pop the fleshy white pulp in your mouth. Enjoy. Finally eject the seed.

The tall tree on the right is the fruiting nephelium. Standing at 25 m it must have been there before I was born, probably about 60 years ago.

Nowadays nephelium trees are much shorter through scientific intervention. Locally nephelium fruits are called 'rambutan' of which the root word 'rambut' in Malay means hairs, referring to the hair-like appearance of the fruit's skin covering which I think is a more apt desription of the fruit. The wild species has an acid sweet taste while its more modern cousins are very much sweeter and of thicker pulp.

Borneo and Indonseia is the original home of the rambutan tree. Our climate here with a rainfall of 3000 mm per year is just perfect. Typical of rainforest trees its leaves have a 'drip tip' structure like its long and elongated tips to enable it to quickly shed water from our torrential downpour. As an added interest, Malaysia exports rambutans to India where they are considered priced wedding gifts. Well I guess it's like the role of grapes and apples in Malaysia as well which are also preferred fruits for wedding gifts.

No comments: