Edible Landscaping With Tropical Fruit Trees- By: VK Melhado
Tropical fruit trees make wonderful additions to any South Florida landscape. Combine plants with lush green foliage, brightly colored flowers of all shapes and sizes to create a low maintenance, attractive outdoor design. Get creative and intersperse your fruit trees with other native tropicals and add a water feature or secluded seating area. The choices are endless, but the best part comes with the harvesting of this edible landscape.
Here is a list of some of the tropical fruit trees you're most likely to have success with in the South Florida climate. In an effort to inspire you, we've, also included some of the more exotic varieties you may never have heard of.
Avocado: Introduced to the area in 1833, the South Florida climate is ideal for growing this nutritious fruit. There are over 56 different varieties with summer, fall and winter growing seasons. The thick skin is green, and can be smooth or rough textured, and teardrop, round or football shape, depending on the species. Avocados have more fat than most fruits, but they are an excellent source of potassium and Vitamin A, and are used in salads, guacamole, and taste great scooped right out of the shell.
Trees are 40-60 feet in height and produce large quantities of fruit that do not ripen until they are picked or fall to the ground.
Growing Conditions: Sunny location with well-drained soil. Season: January-June.
Caimito - Star Apple: This is an ornamental evergreen tree with sweet purple or green fruit and shiny green leaves with a brown underside. The fruit is sweet and gelatinous. The trees range from 25 to 100 ft in height.
Growing Conditions: Well-drained soil with no chance of flooding. Season: Late May-March.
Carambola - Star Fruit: Plant produces a large fleshy berry, 2-6 inches in length, with a waxy, yellow skin. A cross-section slices produces a perfect star shape – hence the name. The trees are considered small to medium in height (35 feet max), with dark green leaves and flowers.
Star fruit is great served in salads or as an iced juice drink, canned, dried or preserved. Not advised for people with kidney disease due to high concentration of oxalic acid.
Growing Conditions: Sunny location with protection from the wind. Season: July-September, November-February.
Mango: Native to Asia and India, mango trees have been growing in Florida for at least 100 years. These medium to large trees (up to 100 feet) have a number of varieties and produce a hearty crop of tasty fruit. When first picked, mangoes are light green, but are best eaten when the fruit softens slightly and skin takes on a yellow, red, or orange color. The fruit is a good source of vitamins A and C and tastes great in salads, breads, or pureed.
Growing Conditions: These trees are tough and easy to grow. Season: May-October.
Passion Fruit: This vine produces purple, yellow or reddish colored fruit surrounded by a sweet, orange pulp. The juice makes a wonderful punch.
Growing Conditions: Passion Fruit vines should be planted in an area where they can be supported by a fence or trellis in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Season: June-December.
Tamarind: This is a large tree (up to 80 feet), with rough bark, twisting branches and evergreen foliage. Flowers are a pale yellow with red veins that appear in early summer. The fruit is hidden in brown pods and contain large seeds in a sticky, brown edible pulp. The "molasses like" pulp can be used to flavor sauces and steak sauce. Season: April-June.
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