Wednesday 3 February 2010


The mangosteen is a round, purple fruit slightly smaller than a tennis ball. To eat it, you can peel away the brittle, moist rind with your palms to reveal the pure-white delicacy inside. The bitter rind is inedible, and the fruit comes in the form of variously sized wedged segments, the largest of which may hold a solitary seed. The number of segments usually varies from 4 to 8 which is matched by the number of points on the protrusion from the underside of the fruit; therefore, you can discover how many segments you are in for before you open the mangosteen. Mangosteen trees will only grow (and more importantly, fruit) in ultra-tropical zones with consistent temps above 38C. The fruit can take up to 100 days to form and ripen

The seeds of the mangosteen are considered "recalcitrant." This means that they are very short-lived and must be kept moist or they die almost as soon as they dry out.

Mangosteen trees are dioecious, meaning that there are male trees and female trees. The only problem with this is that to date, no one has been able to find a male tree anywhere in the world so if they exist, they are quite rare. Globally, it is possible that there have never been any male mangosteen trees. This places the entire burden on the female tree to perpetuate the species. No males means no pollen, even though the female flower contains rudimentary sterile anthers where pollen would normally be found. Without pollen, there is no way to fertilize the female flower and create true seeds with variable genetic traits. Instead, the female mangosteen trees succeed in perpetuating the species by a process known as agamospermy. The wall lining the ovary of the female flower, the nucellus, supplies the material that will then develop within the fruit segments and becomes what is effectively an asexually produced seed. As a result of this, it produces a clone of the mother tree.

Wiki says:

There is a legend about Queen Victoria offering a reward of 100 pounds to anyone who could deliver to her the fresh fruit. Although this legend can be traced to a 1930 publication by fruit explorer, David Fairchild, it is not substantiated by any known historical document. In his publication, "Hortus Veitchii", James Herbert Veitch says that he visited Java in 1892, "to eat the Mangosteen. It is necessary to eat the Mangosteen grown within three or four degrees of latitude of the equator to realize at all the attractive and curious properties of this fruit.

organic mangosteens from Cape Trib now available at Heng's Organic Fruit and Veg, in Kerrie Road, Glen Waverley. Stop whatever you're doing and go there now. I guarantee it will be worth it.

Called "The Queen of Fruit", Mangosteens are still quite rare. And expensive. If you can get your hands on then, they are worth the $$$. Spectacular looking, with a taste that is quite indescribable. The edible arils have the consistency of a lychee, the taste of something like a peach crossed with a grape, and the perfume is sweet, almost strawberry-ish.

Apparently you can brew a tea from the rind, but I will content myself with the luscious fruit.


FriendlySavage said...

I'm in Vietnam at the moment and there are mangosteens a plenty! So good.

Kim (frogpondsrock) said...

Thankyou. I had never heard of them before. The name rang a bell but that was all. I will keep my eye out for them but I don't like my chances down here in Tassie.

Toni said...

Definitely don't have these in the frozen Artic where I live! Dang North Central America :(