Martin County Library System Press Releases

June 25, 2014

Come get a Taste of the Tropics at the Blake Library THIS SATURDAY June 28

Filed under: News — mclswebblog @ 8:54 am

Experience the Fruit of the Tropics



UF/IFAS Extension Martin County Master Gardener Volunteer Mark Worden holds a fresh-picked avocado at the University of Florida’s Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead.  Mr. Worden cultivates a specific interest in fruit trees and is currently creating a food forest is his home landscape. Photo Credit:  Ann McCormick, UF/IFAS Extension Martin County Master Gardener Volunteer


Press Release

June 23, 2014

Taste of the Tropics is an annual event sponsored by the University of Florida  (UF) IFAS Extension Martin County Master Gardeners in cooperation with the Martin County Library System to educate the public about the abundant tropical fruits and vegetables that can be grown in south Florida. Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who have a goal to increase the availability of horticultural information for the community at large by providing residents with environmentally sound, research-based gardening information. The following is a synopsis on some tropical trees, shrubs and vines that grow in our area.  Come to Taste of the Tropics to learn, and taste, more!  This event will be held at the Blake Library on Saturday, June 28, from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.



The avocado, Persea americana, is native to tropical America and consists of three botanical races (Mexican, Guatemalan, and West Indian), each with definitive characteristics and adaptations. Horticulturists have selected trees with superior qualities to come up with many cultivated varieties, known as cultivars. These trees are propagated vegetatively, which is to say, not from seed. With adequate yard space, the homeowner could plant several different cultivars and create an opportunity for extended harvest. For example, the cultivar “Donnie” ripens from May to June, “Miguel” provides fruit from July to September and “Monroe” produces from November to February.

Jackfruit, Artocarpus heterophyllus, is native to India, and holds the record for the largest tree-borne fruit. The fruit can weigh up to 60 pounds! Typically, the fruit averages around 35 pounds. Trees typically grow to 30 to 40 feet, but with judicious pruning can be kept around 12 feet, and make beautiful landscape specimens. While jackfruits are difficult to clean, they are worth the effort. Jackfruit trees are cold sensitive and should be planted only in a protected area.

The familiar mango, Mangifera indica, is represented by hundreds of cultivars. Most of what we buy at the grocery has been grown for quantity, not quality. For the home landscape, there are numerous cultivars of excellent quality from which to choose that will also provide sufficient quantity for home use. Given sufficient space, by planting an early, mid and late season cultivar, a homeowner could enjoy an extended mango season. The 16-20 oz. “Edward” and 10-16 oz. “Florigon” will ripen from  May to July, while the  20-40 oz., Keitt will ripen from August to September. With proper pruning, mango trees can be maintained at a height of 6 to 15 feet.

Small Trees/Shrubs

Barbados cherry or Acerola, Malpighia emarginata, is known and grown for its high vitamin C content. This little tree produces fruit almost continually from May to November. The small, 3/4” berries have a tart cherry-like flavor and are best eaten out of hand.

Jaboticaba, Myrciaria cauliflora, a small multi-branched shrub-like tree native to Brazil, produces copious amounts of 1” grape like fruit along the trunk. Grown from seed, these trees take approximately eight years to bear fruit. Since most purchased trees already have several years growth, the wait might not be quite so long for those who want to use this tree in their landscape.


Passion fruit, Passiflora edulis, is a short lived (3-5 years), fast growing vine that produces intensely flavored 2” round fruit. Plant it on a fence and watch it grow! 

Pitaya, Hylocereus undatus, (and others) is a vine-like cactus that produces a 4 1/2” oblong fleshy berry that has a flavor similar to kiwi. This cactus must be grown on a trellis, rough-barked tree or structure since the vine is epiphytic.
The Mysore raspberry, Rubus niveus, is a tropical berry related to the blackberry. It is very easy to grow with nothing more than adequate fertilizer and water. The vine is best grown on a trellis to keep the thorns out of the way.

Article Contributed by Mark Worden, UF/IFAS Extension Martin County Master Gardener Volunteer

All programs and related activities sponsored, or assisted by, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are open to all persons without discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions, or affiliations.  Florida Cooperative Extension Service/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences/University of Florida/Dr. Nick Place Dean and Director for Extension


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