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Stories articles and news abot Alison and Digby Gotts


The Samoan Experience
Three days in Tafua
EcoTour Samoa
The Samoan Election
Pruning the Mangoes
Climbing Mt SiliSili
Fourth week in Samoa

Samoan Observer Articles:

Why is there no fruit on my mango?
Want more mangoes next year?
Green oranges or orange oranges?
In search of a Samoan Orange
The Hardest Cut
Rambutan - hairy thing from the forest
Rambutan revisited
Abiu - the emporer's golden fruit
Avocado - fruit or vegetable?
Carambola - star of the rainforest
Durian - the extreme tropical fruit
Rollinia - lemon meringue pies growing in the garden
Sex and the single pawpaw
Soursop - a taste sensation
The mulch story
Do it yourself pest control
The joys of soapy water!
The hungry fruit tree
Positive insects



(One of a series of articles about growing fruit trees in Samoa, written by Digby Gotts and published in the 'Samoa Observer' between December 2000 and April 2001)

These bright yellow fruit, usually Apiu in Samoa, are starting to appear in the Fugalei Market in ever increasing numbers as more people discover the sweet flavour. The best fruit should be 3-4 inches across, with no marks on the skin and a green cap around the stem of not more than one-third of the fruit. They are generally eaten fresh by cutting them in half and scooping the flesh out with a spoon. If you munch straight into the fruit there is sticky latex in the skin that makes the lips a bit sticky, great for kissing, but best avoided when you only want the fruit. Australians prefer adding a little lemon juice to lift the acidity, but I have noticed that Samoans prefer the plain sweetness without the acid bite.

This tree is a native of Brazil, where it grows in the under story of the rainforest. It can grow to 7 meters high but it is best to cut off the high and vertical branches, encouraging branching low down. It can produce 3-4 crops a year in Samoa, and should be fed 4 times a year with about half-kilo of NPK.

Nafanua has introduced two varieties, one of which produces consistently large round fruit and the other produces slightly smaller egg shaped fruit. These top quality fruits can only be obtained from grafting pieces from these Nafanua trees onto abiu seedlings and encouraging the grafted piece to survive by cutting out the seedling growth. As abiu grow well from seed, many people haven’t bothered to buy grafted trees of either of these varieties and have grown their own from seed. Seedling trees will produce fruit in 2-3 years after planting out but in the same way that children are never the same as their parents, the fruit from seedling trees is often smaller or not as tasty.

There are several problem pests of abiu, mainly fruit fly and fruit piercing moth. When these are in high numbers you may need to protect your fruit with newspaper bags or nets over the trees. Trapping can reduce fruit fly damage significantly. A simple trap can be made by cutting the top off a plastic lemonade bottle, and sticking it back upside down into the bottle. Add a little beer or vegemite in water for bait, hang the bottle in your tree, and the flies will drown trying to get a drink. If you start to catch bees, reduce the size of the hole so bees don’t go in and die, as they are your main helper with your fruit trees.

The other marketing issue is that rough handling easily bruises the fruit, leaving unsightly brown areas in the flesh and slight brown markings on the skin. This is the main reason these fruits have never really “taken off” in the big markets overseas as too much handling results in too many damaged fruit. The one exception to this is when a smart agent in Perth, Australia, started airfreighting the fruit to Malaysia, selling it under the name “Emperor’s Golden Fruit” for about 10 tala each. The royal connection and the high price pulled in many people with spare cash and made some growers very happy for a while. Then the Malaysian economy crashed and fruit sales disappeared, as there was no spare cash.

So if you haven’t yet delighted in this rich caramel flavoured fruit, be brave and try some at the market next time you see them. Or come out to Nafanua to buy a young tree.


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Last updated November 6, 2014