From the Archives
of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by Don and Chris Gray of Julatten
name: Rollinia deliciosa
Brazil, South America
So far in Australia it is referred to as the Rollinia or Amazon Custard
South America it is sold on streets and in the markets. It is a very
useful tree to have in one's garden. Could be a very viable fresh fruit
for Australian fresh fruit markets.
Rollinia is a rapid growing medium sized tree. It reaches a height of
around 5 metres and has a spread of about 4 to 5 metres across. The
tree is an attractive cone shape. The leaves are light green in colour,
obovate-oblong and form to an average length of 30 cm and around 9 cm
in width. The leaves are of a smooth texture with distinct veins at the
back of the leaves like the rib bones of a fish. The veins are a slight
yellow green in colour. The leaves hang off long slender branches which
look like large feathers.
The flowers fork in clusters on little
fresh new branches, which shoot out of the sides of the long slender
main branches. The flowers usually hang in clusters of three or four
flowers but only one of the flowers in these clusters reaches full size
at a time. The flowers are three-petaled like the blades of a motor car
fan and the flowers are slightly yellow green when mature. There is a
small opening on the underside of the mature flowers into which small
insects - flies, beetles and ants - crawl, which are attracted by the
sweet smell of the flowers which is like a ripening custard apple. The
unpollinated flowers fall off and the pollinated flowers form into
little fruit. Abundance of flowers appear January/February, fruit set
March-April. Mature fruit approximately five months after fruit set.
The Rollinia flowers approximately 18 months from seed. Second season
flowering more abundant, also other flowerings during the year but not
fruit is roundish oblate in shape, 8 to 12 cm in diameter, cream yellow
in colour with soft bumps or spines which protrude about 2 cm. The
flesh is white or cream coloured, juicy sweet and of a pleasant
flavour, much like a lemon meringue pie and the flesh just melts in
one's mouth. Very delicious - hence the name Rollinia deliciosa. The
best way to pick the fruit is to cut it from the tree with secateurs as
soon as the fruit turns yellow. Eaten immediately is the best way, but
it can be eaten even when spines turn a distinct black.
The second season flowering when tree is approximately 3 years old
gives an abundance of fruit. Bearing is moderate to heavy. Seems to
have an early main crop around Aug-Sept-Oct and odd fruit in the
remainder of the year.
So far in Australia seedlings only are available, but seem to be true
The Rollinia is a tropical plant, so requires fairly hot conditions.
Prospers equally well in sun or shade. Can tolerate light frosts,
approximately 3°C on the grass. Seems to enjoy the cooler
climate in Julatten, 1200 ft above sea level. Will blow over in strong
wind and rain. It is best to leave the tree lying down as propping up
kills it. Leave all lower branches as this gives a micro climate around
tree and also prevents a lot of root damage if the tree goes over.
Propagation has been principally by seed, but experiments of grafting
onto soursop, pond apple and bullock's heart have been successful.
The tree requires a rich, loamy, well-drained position. Will grow in
clay-ish soils but mounding would certainly help. Watering should not
be overdone as too much water is likely to kill the tree.
responds well to applications of potash, chicken manure and meat and
bone meal, and lightly mulched. Keep mulch away from base of tree as
this will prevent root rot. Zinc deficiency symptoms have been observed
in the form of stunted shoot growth and yellowing of leaves. This can
be corrected by spraying the leaves in spring with 10 grams of zinc
sulphate in 10 litres of water. Spray with zinc again the following
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