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Species Guide: Common Fruit Trees

Limau Kasturi

An unripe fruit of limau kasturi. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Calamondin Orange

Malay name: Limau Kasturi

Scientific nameCitrus × microcarpa

Conservation Status: Cultivated, Naturalised, Introduced (China)

Description

A medium-sized shrub or small tree that grows up to 3-4 m tall. Leaves are egg-shaped and aromatic. The upperside of leaves is dark green while the underside of leaves is pale green. Stems are slightly thorny. Bear white, fragrant, five-petaled flowers. Fruits are small and round, turn from green to light orange when ripe.

A limau kasturi plant. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial shrub or tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds

Ecological function: The flowers of this plant attract pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant.

Pollinator: Bees, insects

Soil: Sand, loam, clay, organic soils

Moisture: Moist, well-drained, fertile soils

Shade: No shade, partial shade

Use: Its fruits are eaten raw or cooked. The fruit peel is preserved and used as food flavouring.

Categories
Species Guide: Common Fruit Trees

Durian Belanda

The durian-like fruits of Annona muricata L. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Soursop

Malay name: Durian Belanda

Scientific name: Annona muricata L.

Conservation status: Cultivated, Naturalised, Introduced (tropical Americas)

Description

A shrub or small tree that grows 3-10 m tall. Stems are slender and low-branching. Leaves are glossy, alternately arranged and give an offensive smell. The upperside of leaves is darker than the underside. Flowers are borne on trunk and branches. Flowers comprise 3 outer petals and 3 inner petals. The outer petals are fleshy, spreading and yellow-green, while inner petals are pale yellow and close-set. Fruit is somewhat egg-shaped, dark green when ripe and covered with soft, short spines.

A durian belanda tree with its spreading, upright branches. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds or cuttings

Ecological function: The flowers of this tree attract pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant.

Pollinator: Insects, flies, bees

Soil: Sand, loam, clay

Moisture: Moist, well-drained, fertile soils

Shade: No shade, semi-shade

Use: Fruits are eaten raw or cooked.

Categories
Species Guide: Common Fruit Trees

Limau Purut

A wrinkled fruit and two-parted leaves of Citrus hystrix. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Kaffir Lime

Malay name: Limau Purut

Scientific name: Citrus hystrix

Conservation status: Cultivated, Native to Malaysia

Description

A shrub or tree that grows 3-12 m tall. Stems are thorny, crooked and thin. Leaves are dark green, glossy and pinched in the middle. Fruits are round to egg-shaped, often has a nipple-like structure at the tip. Fruit skin is wrinkled and bumpy, turns from green to yellow before dropping from the tree.

A shrubby, many-branched limau purut tree. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial shrub or tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds, cuttings or air-layering

Ecological function: It is a food plant for Atlas Moth caterpillar. The flowers of this plant attract pollinators.

Pollinator: Honeybees

Soil: Loamy soils

Moisture: Moist, well-drained, fertile soils

Shade: No data

Use: Fruits are edible. Leaves and fruit peels are used as flavouring.

Categories
Species Guide: Common Fruit Trees

Jambu Batu

A guava tree. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Guava

Malay name: Jambu Batu

Scientific name: Psidium guajava L.

Conservation status: Cultivated, Naturalised, Introduced (Central America and northern South America)

Description

A tree that reaches up to 10 m tall. Tree bark is smooth and copper-coloured. Leaves are egg-shaped, fragrant and oppositely arranged. Flowers are white, with 4-5 petals. It produces round, egg-shaped or pear-shaped fruits with a crown-like structure. The fruits turn from green to yellow when ripe.

A flower of this guava tree is visited by an insect. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds, cuttings or grafting

Ecological function: The flowers of this tree attract pollinators. Its fruits are eaten by fruit-feeding animals. It is hardy and drought-tolerant. It provides shade. It is useful for vertical layering in home gardens and permaculture.

Pollinator: Insects, mainly honeybees

Soil: Sand, loam, clay, organic soils

Moisture: Moist, well-drained soils

Shade: No shade, light shade

Use: The ripe fruit is eaten raw or served as salad or dessert.

Categories
Species Guide: Common Fruit Trees

Belimbing

A belimbing fruit. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Starfruit

Malay name: Belimbing

Scientific name: Averrhoa carambola L.

Conservation status: Cultivated, Native to Malaysia

Description

A much-branched tree that is around 3-5 m tall. Leaves develop into smaller, oppositely-arranged leaflets. It bears lilac flowers which are grouped in small clusters. Fruits are waxy, yellow, star-shaped in cross section.

A belimbing tree. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds or grafting

Ecological function: The flowers of this tree attract pollinators.

Pollinator: Bees, flies

Soil: Sand, loam, clay, organic soils

Moisture: Well-drained soils

Shade: No shade

Use: The ripe fruit is eaten raw or blended into fruit juice.

Categories
Species Guide: Common Fruit Trees

Ciku

Fruits of ciku tree. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Naseberry, Sapodilla, Nispero

Malay name: Ciku

Scientific name: Manilkara zapota (L.) P. Royen

Conservation status: Cultivated, Naturalised, Introduced (Tropical Americas)

Description

A tree that grows 18-30 m tall. Leaves are glossy, elliptic and spirally arranged. It bears bell-shaped, pale green flowers. Fruits are somewhat round, brown and hairy.

A ciku tree. Photo by Goh Shang Ming
Fruit and leaves of ciku tree. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds, grafting or air-layering

Ecological function: The flowers of this tree attract pollinators.

Pollinator: Insects, primarily bees

Soil: Sand, loam. It tolerates saline soils

Moisture: Well-drained, fertile soils

Shade: No shade

Use: Fruits are eaten raw or used in desserts.

Categories
Species Guide: Common Fruit Trees

Rambutan

The green, unripe fruits of rambutan tree. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Hairy Lychee

Malay name: Rambutan

Scientific name: Nephelium lappaceum L.

Conservation status: Cultivated, Native to Malaysia

Description

A tree that grows 10-25 m tall. Leaves are glossy and divided. It bears small, yellowish-green to white flowers with mildly sweet scent. Fruits are oval to spherical, covered with hairy spines, turn from green to red when ripe.

A cluster of fruit buds at the end of a tree branch
A low-branching rambutan tree. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds, grafting or air-layering

Ecological function: The flowers of this tree attract pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant. Its fruits are eaten by birds and bats.

Pollinator: Insects

Soil: Loamy soils

Moisture: Well-drained, fertile soils 

Shade: No shade

Use: Fruits are eaten raw, stewed or canned.

Categories
Species Guide: Common Fruit Trees

Nangka

Jackfruit is the largest of the tree fruits. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Jackfruit

Malay name: Nangka

Scientific name: Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.

Conservation status: Cultivated, Native to Malaysia

Description

A tree that can reach up to 25 m tall. Tree crown is irregular. Leaves are elliptic, leathery, with short, pointed tip. Flowers are compacted in cluster known as head. Fruits are pear-shaped, with pyramidal warts.

A jackfruit tree with its irregular crown. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds or grafting

Ecological function: As this tree is deep-rooted, it helps to increase soil fertility and improve soil structure, thus aiding in control of flood and erosion. It is shade-providing and is useful for vertical layering in home gardens.

Pollinator: Flies, beetles

Soil: Sand, loam, clay

Moisture: Well-drained soils

Shade: Partial shade. It needs increasing light level as it matures

Use: The ripe fruits are edible.

Categories
Species Guide: Common Fruit Trees

Mangga

Mango fruits. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Mango

Malay name: Mangga

Scientific name: Mangifera indica L.

Conservation status: Cultivated, Naturalised, Introduced (Indian subcontinent)

Description

A tree that grows up to 45 m tall. It has an upright, columnar trunk. Leaves are spirally-arranged, long and slightly elliptical. The flower clusters can consist of about 3000 tiny, whitish flowers. The fruit is is yellowish green or red, egg-shaped and single seeded.

A mango tree with its dense, bushy crown. Photo by Lee Li Chong
The flower cluster of mango tree. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds or grafting

Ecological function: The flowers of this tree attract pollinators. Its fruits are food source for birds and mammals. Its crown provides shelter for wildlife

Pollinator: Bees, bats, flies, ants

Soil: Sand, loam, clay, organic soils

Moisture: Well-drained soils

Shade: No shade

Use: The unripe fruits are made into pickles while the ripe fruits are eaten raw or made into dessert.

Categories
Species Guide: Common Fruit Trees

Limau Nipis

A limau nipis plant with white flowers. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Key Lime

Malay name: Limau Nipis

Scientific name: Citrus aurantifolia

Conservation status: Cultivated, Naturalised, Introduced (northern India and Myanmar)

Description

A tree that reaches up to 5 m tall. Stems are spiny. Leaves are pointed. It bears clusters of white, fragrant flowers. Fruits are round and turn yellow when ripe.

The white flower of limau nipis. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds, cuttings or air-layering

Ecological function: The flowers attract pollinators. It can be used as a hedge plant.

Pollinator: Insects, especially honeybees

Soil: Loamy soils. It tolerates clayey soils

Moisture: Moist, well-drained soils

Shade: No shade

Use: Fruits are eaten raw, cooked or used as flavouring. The oils extracted from fruit peels, leaves and seeds are used for soap-making.