From the Archives
of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by Christine Gray
A Local Experience with the Abiu
Scientific name: Pouteria caimito
was August 1978 when Don and I proudly purchased our Abiu seedling, a
native of Brazil, from Avondale Nursery. We made it a habit of
collecting all the new fruit trees that were new to the country, as we
were determined to "have a go" at growing them.
By growing these
new fruit trees, we envisaged picking fruit from our garden all year
round. Our land is in the tropics at Julatten, 1200 ft above sea level,
and the coldest winter we have had, the temperature was 3 degrees C on
I must say we are happily picking fruit from some of our trees already. To our delight, the abiu has been a great success.
chose a well-drained sunny spot on our creek flat for the abiu tree.
The flat has excellent loamy soil. The spot where we planted the abiu
had just been cleared of lantana, milky bean and brush. A small hole
was dug and the abiu was planted with no application of any fertilizer,
only given a light watering.
It was not till later, as the tree
grew, that we gave it light applications of chicken manure and meat and
bone meal. All the time being careful to keep the manure about 1 ft or
so away from the base of the tree. Also, we are a great believer in
trace elements and a match box full was sprinkled around the tree from
18" to 10 ft from the base.
The abiu tree grew reasonably fast.
It reached a height of around 8 feet in September, 1980, and we noticed
its first white flowers, which appeared on the branches inside the
foliage. At the same time, we also noticed that the leaves were showing
streaks of yellow.
We experimented by spraying the leaves with
zinc sulphate, 1 gram (about level teaspoons) to 1 litre of water. In
almost two weeks the tree lost the yellow in its leaves and bright new
green growth appeared. Some small fruit appeared on the branches, but
in November 1980, they all fell off. Perhaps it was because the tree
was too young to hold the fruit.
The abiu tree flowered again in
Jan, Feb, and March 1981, and there was a scant flowering in April and
May. This time, eight fruit remained on the tree.
We picked the
first fruit in June, 1981 and to our surprise these fruit were
seedless, but we found the fruit were not mature even though they were
a bright yellow, as latex adhered to the lips when we ate the fruit. We
decided to take more notice of the next fruit and record from when the
fruit turned yellow to maturity. I did this, recorded the date the
fruit turned yellow, 4/7/81, and then covered the fruit with a paper
bag. I then recorded the date the fruit fell off the tree into the
paper bag which was 18/9/81. This took 8 weeks from turning yellow to
maturity. During this time the fruit increased in size. When we cut the
fruit this time, there was no latex and the flavour was excellent. In
September, 1981, we sprayed the tree again with zinc sulphate.
small buds appeared again in October, 1981, the flowers opening in
November, 1981, small fruit appeared December, 1981. More flowers again
in Jan,1982 and also February and a lot of small fruit set on the
The abiu tree is now 16ft high and a width of 10ft. This
time 230 fruit held on the tree. Before that, lots of fruit had fallen
off, as it was too much for the tree. We have only this single tree
flowering, so it does not need others for cross pollination.
fruit turned yellow on Feb 6, 1982 and we started to pick the fruit on
March 14th, 1982. Of the 230 fruit, about 100 were seedless, the rest
of the fruit having only one seed, with an exception of two fruit
having two seeds. The biggest fruit weighed 1lb 10oz with a 15-inch
circumference North-South, and a 14-inch circumference East-West. There
were a few small fruit, but most weighed from 1lb to 1lb 6oz.
gave the fruit to lots of people for tasting. Everyone loved the
flavour. The remarks describing the flavour were, "like homemade ice
cream", "caramel", "toffee", "young coconut, but sweet", "Nectar".
all we can say is that they are delicious. I love putting the abiu in
the fridge, then cutting them in half and spooning out the smooth,
white, juicy flesh from the perfectly round bright-yellow-skinned fruit.
only problem we have found with the abiu fruit was, as the latex left
the fruit as they matured on the tree, the fruit fly attacked them. We
managed to save a few from fruit fly attack by covering the fruit with
paper bags. Next fruiting, I will cover the fruit with bags as soon as
they turn yellow and also hang dac * pots in the tree.
successfully marcotted this tree. Marcots were put on in Dec and Jan,
1981, roots appeared March, 1981 and cut off and potted in April, 1981.
We are still experimenting with marcots, and are putting them on at
different intervals during the year.
We think this could be a
good commercial fresh fruit, if the fruit fly problem can be overcome,
as the fruit keeps well, especially if picked a little early before
maturity, as the fruit is very firm at this stage and it still has
excellent flavour. The only problem is the latex, but that can be
overcome by spooning out the flesh.
The tree itself is very attractive and will be an excellent back yard fruit tree.
Dac pots are containers holding a mixture of 100 mls wine, 1 cup sugar,
1 litre water. When hung in trees, they attract fruit fly (Dacus) and
they drown themselves.