Ever seen one of these?
If so, you’ve probably spent some time in a subtropic countryside.
The plant is a strange one. A single fruit is produced by this flower. I’d expect something different. Maybe it’s a pollination problem or opportunity for a beekeeper.
When ripe, the green fruit turns a pale orange-red and opens into three parts. Strange! Looking at the green fruit, I’d expect four parts, not three.
Inside, three shiny black seeds capped by a dull yellow flesh are exposed.
When green, this fruit is poisonous. But when ripe, the dull yellow flesh is removed and sautéed for a unusual, but delightful dish.
It’s Ackee! It’s found in Africa, the West Indies and prominently in Jamaica, where it’s a favorite food. In fact, prepared with a little salt fish, it’s Jamaica’s national dish.
Fortunately, if you like Ackee, those shiny black seeds have found their way around the world. And they thrive in southern Florida.
But you won’t find it on many Florida menus. It’s just too exotic.
Julia F. Morton’s book, Fruit of Warm Climates has become a favorite read while figuring out what to do with some Florida land.
And she’s got more to say about Ackee or Akee.