Article from the Tropical Fruit News magazine of the Miami Rare Fruit Council International
by Steve Howe

The Big Pine Caimito

Bob and Donna Cannon, and Readers,

I wish to compliment the excellent articles on caimito and satinleaf by Little, Wadsworth and Marrero (TFN Nov. 93); of all the Chrysophyllum species these two are my favorites. After typing forests in the Great Antillean Bio Realm--which to the north includes South Florida below the lake--I have made a small collection of them at my 5 acre station and Adolf Grimal's field trials. (TFN. Aug. & Sept. 93) Several of our friends own related seedling varieties from these trees.

My Great Antillean study area is Puerto Rico to Cozumel east to west and from here (Big Pine, just north of Key West) to Jamaica. In that country, caimito juice combined with ugli makes "Matrimony", the base of all wedding punch drinks in Christian Jamaica. My field station there in the 1960's and early 70's made me appreciate the Arawak selection of caimito that the modern Jamaicans have, along the Mosquito Coast, mixed with the Central America selections spread south by pre-Colombian coastal trade. the selections get larger as you go south on the Mosquito Coast trade route.

The Jamaican forms brought recently to Belize, Livingston, Guatemala, Bluefields, Nicaragua, and Limon Castle, Puerto Rico, are sometimes hybridized with those good pre- Columbian selections at these ancient Indian towns renamed by the Jamaicans and Spanish. Just south of Limon, the largest caimito can be found, and it is brought to Limon's and sometimes San Jose's fruit markets. We call it the "Puerto Viejo" and it's the size of a grapefruit. They came in the dark, plum-skinned type and the albino, green- skinned type, and we grow the four best varieties of them here at Big Pine where they and the native satinleaf both grow ideally. My fine Cuban caimitos will, no doubt, hybridize with them as the native dilly has with our Cuban sapodilla selections the Indians made us and dropped off here on the Habafia-St. Augustine canoe trade route long before the English-speaking peoples ever came to this new old place on the Western Atlantic.

We have seed and seedlings available for sale or trade to TFN readers; for information, send a SASE: R.5, Box 189C, Big Pine Key, Fl33043 My Best to you.  

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Howe, Steve. "The Big Pine Caimito." Tropical Fruit News, Miami Rare Fruit Council. Jan. 1994. Page 12. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

Published 20 Apr. 2017 LR
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