From the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by Gene Joyner, Tropical Fruit News

Seasons in Australia are opposite to those in the US.  Summer is Dec. Jan. Feb. Autumn is Mar. Apr. May. Winter is June July Aug. Spring is Sept. Oct. Nov.

Red Mombin

Spondias purpurea


The red mombin is a handsome, deciduous tree, native to tropical America and commonly planted throughout Central and South America. The tree grows to a height of about thirty five feet with stiff brittle branches and dark green pinnate leaves, six to nine inches long with seventeen or more small, one-half to one-and-one-half inch leaflets.

Trees are commonly propagated in the tropics by large hardwood cuttings which can be planted at any time; in fact, it is one of the more popular trees used for living fences throughout the regions in which it is grown.

The deep red flowers are quite attractive and are produced on wood from the previous season, and the dark red fruits which ripen in early summer are borne in small bunches. Fruits can vary in size and shape, but usually are somewhat oval, one to two inches in length and have a very juicy, sub-acid pulp which surrounds a rather large seed. Fruit is commonly eaten fresh or used for jellies and other purposes.

Trees seem to have few natural pest problems and grow well over a wide variety of soils. Here in Florida, the biggest problem with them is low temperatures which can injure trees during periods of severe freezes. Usually, though, trees are not killed and after a hard pruning in the spring, they make a recovery the following year.

In addition to the red-fruited form, there is also a form which has yellow fruits which is grown in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The variety differs only in color and the fruit flavor is identical to that of the red-fruited form.

Trees introduced into Florida are all female trees, and seeds from fruit trees in Florida are not viable and will not grow. This limits propagation strictly to vegetative means - either air-layering or hardwood cuttings.

The red mombin is found in increasing numbers throughout South Florida because of the increasing Latin population which is quite familiar with it and has great appreciation for its quality.

Trees in landscape situations should be planted where they have good drainage and protection from cold winds if possible. Trees should be fertilized two to three times a year for optimum growth and fruiting and periodically it helps to prune back trees to renew wood and increase fruit production.

Due to their susceptibility to being broken up by high windstorms, trees should be planted in areas sheltered by buildings or other more wind-resistant trees. These trees will not take high amounts of salt wind, so if planted close to oceanfront areas, they should be sheltered by buildings or other, more salt-tolerant plants.

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Joyner, Gene. "The Red Mombin." Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. Tropical Fruit News, Nov. 1993. Mar. 1994. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.

Published 22 Apr. 2015 LR
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