Melicoccus
bijugatus (Sapindaceae) 

 

Common Names 

English: Spanish lime, genip, ginep, ginepe, guinep, honeyberry 

Spanish: quenepa, limoncillo, mamón, mamoncillo, grosella de miel, guayo

French: quenepe, quenett 

 

Origin and Distribution 

Spanish lime is from northern South America, and is widely distributed throughout tropical South America, Central America and the Antilles.  Sporadically planted in other tropical regions.

 

Botanical Synonyms 

Melicocca bijugata.

 

Description

Large tree, to 85 feet (25 m) tall, with a thick trunk and smooth gray bark.  Leaves are bright green, alternate and compound, with 4 elliptic leaflets 2-5 inches (5-12.5 cm) long and 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) wide.  Usually dioecious, with separate male and female trees.  Flowers are small, white, fragrant, and borne in terminal panicles 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) long.  Fruits are ellipsoid to spheroid, 1-1.5 inches (2.5-4 cm) long and 3/4 inch (2 cm) wide, with a thin, brittle green peel.  The pulp is orange, salmon or yellowish in color, juicy to somewhat pasty in texture, flavorful and sweet-sour to sour.  One or two large, cream colored seeds.  The pulp usually adheres tightly to the seed, but there are varieties that are relatively freestone.

 

'Sasa' Spanish lime (Melicoccus bijugatus)

 

Propagation and Culture

Spanish lime is usually grown from seed, but superior cultivars may be propagated by airlayering or grafting.  The tree is slow growing, taking 5-10 years or more to fruit.  Grows well at low elevations under hot, dry conditions.  Adaptable to different soil types, but seems to grow best in fertile, high pH soils.  Fruits from July to October in Puerto Rico.

Cultivars and Related Species

Most of the Spanish lime production in Puerto Rico comes from wild trees, but more and more orchards of selected grafted varieties are being planted.  Superior cultivars of Spanish lime include 'Sasa', 'José Pabón', 'Perfa', 'Ponce' and 'Sotomayor'.  

Melicoccus lepidopetala, from Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina, has an edible fruit.

 

Uses

Spanish lime is eaten fresh by popping the fruit out of the peel and chewing the juicy pulp off the seed.  Also used to make juice, jam, jelly, and a liquor called "bilí".  The seeds are reportedly edible, but are very astringent.       

 

Nutritional composition per 100 g Spanish lime fruit      

Carbohydrate 14-19 g
Fat  0.1-0.2 g
Protein  0.5-1 g
Calcium  3.4-15 mg
Phosphorous  10-24 mg
Iron  0.5-1.2 mg
Carotene 70 IU
Thiamine 0.03-0.2 mg
Riboflavin 0.01-0.2 mg
Niacin  0.2-0.9 mg
Vitamin C   0.8-10 mg

The ground, roasted seeds are used medicinally as a treatment for diarrhea.

 

More information on Spanish lime 

 

Mamoncillo
From the 1987 classic by Julia Morton, Fruits of Warm Climates.

 

 

 

 

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