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.
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.
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.
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
The ground, roasted seeds are used medicinally as a treatment for diarrhea.
More information on Spanish lime
Gardens, Hwy 120 Km 18.9, Box 692, Maricao, Puerto Rico 00606 USA
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