Tamarind, Guava, Rose Apple & Passion Fruit Photos

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Economic Plant Photographs #14

Tamarind, Guava, Rose Apple, Mountain Apple, Brush Cherry,
Surinam Cherry, Passion Fruit, Monstera, New Zealand Tea

Legume Family (Fabaceae)

Tamarind (Tamarindus indica), a leguminous tree native to India. The brown, bean-like pods contain a tart, sticky pulp used to flavor drinks, candies, sauces (including Worcestershire sauce), curries, preserves and chutney. Tamarind trees are grown throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world, especially in Africa, southeastern Asia and Mexico.

Myrtle Family (Myrtaceae)

Guava fruits of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae). Left: Guava (Psidium guajava), a native tropical American tree which is cultivated throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world. The ripe fruits contain more vitamin C than do most citrus fruits. They are used in desserts, juices, preserves and sauces. Because the fleshy, berry-like fruits are filled with numerous, small, hard seeds, they pass through the digestive tract of mammals and are dispersed throughout high-rainfall tropical areas, such as the Hawaiian islands. Right: Strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum = syn. P. littorale), another delicious species of guava native to Brazil. Pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana) is also native to South America, and has fleshy, strong-scented berries with a subtle pineapple flavor. The latter species is grown extensively in New Zealand (see next photo).

Pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana), another guava from South America. The delicious fruit (berry) is fleshy and sweet-scented with a subtle pineapple flavor. The small, edible seeds produce a gritty texture, somewhat like the stone cells in a pear. The fleshy interior can be scooped out with a spoon.

The South American pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana). The delicious fruit (berry) is fleshy and sweet-scented with a subtle pineapple flavor. The small, edible seeds produce a gritty texture, somewhat like the stone cells in a pear. Pineapple guava is an attractive, small landscaping tree in southern California that bears edible fruit.

Two cultivars of pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana) characterized by the shape of their fruits. Like other members of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae), each fruit has a persistent calyx at the top. Several cultivated varieties of pineapple guava are grown in southern California for their landscaping qualilities and sweet fruits.

Rose apple or Malabar plum (Syzygium jambos), a popular West Indian fruit that is native to southeast Asia. Like other members of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae), the beautiful blossoms contain hundreds of showy stamens. The fruits are highly prized for jellies and confections.

Mountain apple or Malay apple (Syzygium malaccense), another popular West Indian fruit that is native to southeast Asia. Like other members of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae), the blossoms contain numerous stamens. The pear-shaped fruits are highly prized for jellies and confections.

Australian brush cherry (Syzygium paniculatum), an attractive landscaping shrub or small tree in southern California. The colorful fruits are edible but insipid. In their native Australia, they are eaten to quench thirst and are made into jellies.

See Unusual Cauliflorous Berries Of Jaboticaba Tree

Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora), a South American tree with small ribbed fruits that are eaten fresh or cooked. Like other members of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae), the flowers contain many stamens. The genus Eugenia is closely related to Syzygium. In fact, older references include all the present-day Syzygium species under Eugenia.

New Zealand tea plant (Leptospermum scoparium), a commonly cultivated shrub in southern California. The flowers come in several color variations, and include single and double blossoms. On his trips to New Zealand and Australia, British Captain James Cook had the leaves of this plant brewed into a tea to prevent scurvy among his crew. [Note: Scurvy is a disease resulting in the degeneration of skin, teeth and blood vessels. It is characterized by swollen and bleeding gums, liver spots on the skin, and general physical weakness. Scurvy is caused by lack of vitamin C, an important antioxidant.]

Passionflower Family (Passifloraceae)

Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis), an exotic, tendril-bearing vine native to Brazil. It grows luxuriantly in the Hawaiian islands and the fruit is used for juices and fruit punches, such as Hawaiian Punch®. There are many different species of Passiflora vines, including species with blue and bright red blossoms.

The Galapagos Island endemic passionflower (Passiflora foetida var. galapagensis) growing on Santa Cruz Island.

A. Corona

B. Anther

C. Style

D. Sepal

E. Petal

The blue-crown passionflower (Passiflora caerulea) on the Palomar College campus. The remarkable floral morphology of the blossom has been associated (by some people) with the crucifixion of Christ: A. The fringed corona or crown represents radiant light surrounding Christ's head; B. The five stamens (with five versatile anthers) represent five wounds; C. The three styles represent the three nails; D. & E. The five sepals; and five petals represent ten of the disciples (since St. Peter denied his faith and Judas betrayed Christ, they weren't counted); the flower lasts for three days, the time between the crucifixion and resurrection. [Note: Some references state that the three styles represent a sign of the holy trinity, and the fringed corona symbolizes the crown of thorns.]

Throughout their range, species of Passiflora have evolved an arsenal of cyanogenic glucosides to fend off ravenous insects, particularly the hungry larvae (caterpillars) of butterflies. When the larvae begin chewing on the vine's leaves, enzymes in the cells of the foliage break down the cyanogenic glucosides, releasing deadly cyanide. Cyanide, also known as hydrocyanic or prussic acid (HCN), is a universal poison that interferes with cellular respiration. The effects of hydrocyanic acid (cyanide) on the human body is disastrous because it inhibits the action of the vital enzyme cytochrome oxidase during cellular respiration. Without the oxidation of glucose, ATP production ceases. Therefore, HCN poisoning is essentially asphyxiation at the cellular level, because oxygen is not utilized at key steps in the Krebs (citric acid) cycle. The cells thus die from lack of oxygen even though oxygen is plentiful in the blood.

According to Lawrence Gilbert, Helen Engler and Kevin Spencer (Nature, July 2000), butterflies of the genus Heliconius have evolved an ingenious mechanism to neutralize the deadly cyanides of Passiflora foliage, another remarkable example of coevolution between a plant and an insect. The larvae are able to metabolize the cyanogenic glucosides and, in at least one species, can actually utilize the metabolite as food. The adult butterflies have also developed the habit of feeding on pollen, thus prolonging their adult stage for months. Even more remarkable is their ability to convert the amino acids of the digested pollen into their own cyanide compound (cyanogen). Originally, the non-toxic adults may have only resembled poisonous butterflies, a phenomenon known as Batesian mimicry. After developing a mechanism to produce cyanogens from pollen, they made themselves poisonous to predators, a strategy known as Mullerian mimicry.

The vivid grape-leaved passionflower (Passiflora vitifolia) native to Central and South America, from Nicaragua to Venezuela.

Arum Family (Araceae)

Monstera deliciosa, a member of the arum family (Araceae) related to Philodendron, Caladium, Anthurium, and Dieffenbachia. Taro (Colocasia esculenta) and the giant, stinking Amorphophallus titanum also belong to this large tropical family. Monstera deliciosa is native to Mexico and Central America, but is a luxuriant, climbing epiphyte throughout tropical regions of the world. It is rampant on the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Kauai. The edible portion is the fleshy, elongate female inflorescence (spadix) after pollination and fertilization, and after the leaf-like spathe has withered and fallen away. When soft and custard-like, it has the subtle flavor of banana and pineapple. Unripe fruits (and the foliage of many species in this family) can cause mouth and throat irritation due to numerous microscopic crystals of calcium oxalate in the cell vacuoles. Since it represents a cluster of many ripened ovaries from many female flowers, it is called a multiple fruit. The pineapple and breadfruit are also examples of multiple fruits. [Blackberries and strawberries are called aggregate fruits because the numerous ripened ovaries (drupelets and achenes) come from a single flower.]

See Taro Corms And Plants In Polynesia
See Largest And Stinkiest Arum On Earth

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