ROLLINIA - LEMON MERINGUE PIES GROWING IN YOUR GARDEN
(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)
Sounds a bit far fetched? Not a bit of it. I even have chocolate pudding
fruit and vanilla ice cream fruit arriving soon! Rollinia is becoming
well known to visitors to Nafanua and is rapidly becoming the favourite
fruit for many Samoans after their first taste. In the absence of any
Samoan name, they are being called Sasalapa palangi (or Sasalapa samasama)
as they are distantly related to the much more familiar soursop or sasalapa.
Once ripe, this fruit is too soft to be easily moved, and the skin turns
black rapidly after picking, so the fruit rarely looks at its best once
it is off the tree. For these reasons it is unlikely to ever become popular
commercially. However these problems are irrelevant for your own tree
growing nearby as you can harvest your own fruit as they ripen.
The fruit are picked when they are mostly yellow. At this stage they
should be about 6 inches across, weighing 1-2 kilograms each, with soft
“fingers” poking out all over. As the fruit continues to ripen,
the fingers turn black within hours, the rest of the fruit also going
black over the next two days. The fruit flesh inside stays quite tasty
and edible in spite of this external appearance. The flesh itself should
be white and fibre free with a jelly texture, and seeds spread through
it rather like watermelon. Taste is truly that of my mum’s lemon
The fruit appear to suffer none of the usual pest problems of Samoa.
The thick skin protects them from attack by the fruit piercing moth as
well as fruit fly. Soft spots inside apparently undamaged fruit are due
to rough handling. The flesh is bruised although no sign of this need
show on the outside. This can even happen to fruit simply left on a hard
surface, as their own weight will bruise them!
Rollinia grow very well from seed, although one out of every ten seems
to fail to set fruit for unknown reasons. They should be planted in well
drained soil as they are very prone to root rotting diseases. In Samoa,
they seem to fruit throughout the year although a larger harvest occurs
over Christmas time. They should be fed small amounts (500 gm) of a simple
fertilizer every few months. Watch out for dead branches as this indicates
root rot problems and you may need to plant again somewhere else. Remove
dead or dying branches as soon as you see them. Pruning this tree should
be done at any time in small amounts, as cutting away too much wood will
stop it from flowering and fruiting for several months.
These trees (as well as many others) are available from Nafanua, ready
for planting out.