Talisia esculenta
(Sapindaceae) 

Common Names 

English: pitomba 

Spanish: cotopalo, pitomba 

French: pitoulier comestible 

Portuguese: pitomba, pitomba-rana, olho de boi, pitomba de macaco 

 

Origin and Distribution 

The pitomba is native to the Amazon region of South America, and has not been well distributed in other tropical areas.to Southeast Asia. 

 

Botanical Synonyms 

Sapindus esculentus and S. edulis. 

 

Description

Medium sized tree, reaching a height of 30-45 feet (9-14 m). Leaves are alternate and compound, with 2-5 pairs of dark green leaflets. Flowers are small, perfect, and occur in apical panicles. Fruits are brown, round to ellipsoid, and about 1.5 inches (4 cm) in diameter. Beneath the outer peel is the white, translucent, sweet-sour pulp with one or two large, elongated seeds.

 

 

Propagation and Culture

Propagation is by seed, which should be fresh. Seeds germinate in about 30 days. The pitomba is adapted to warm, humid climates, and is grown throughout the Amazon region of Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay and Bolivia. A mature tree can produce over 100 pounds (45 kg) of fruit annually. In the Amazon, production is from December to February. In Hawaii, the pitomba fruits from May to July.

 

Cultivars and Related Species

Although variability exists for important characteristics, such as fruit size and shape and pulp thickness, named cultivars are not known. 

There are 40 species of the genus Talisia, eight of which have edible fruit. Talisia esculenta and T. oliviformis are the most important species. Other edible species are T. hexaphylla from Venezuela and Trinidad, T. acutifolia, T. cerasina and T. cupularis from Brazil, T. guianensis from Guyana, and T. pedicellaris from the French Guiana and northern Brazil.

 

Uses

The fruit is consumed fresh and used to make juices. 

 

Nutritional composition per 100 g pitomba fruit      

Carbohydrate 8.8 g
Fat  0.1 g
Protein  0.4 g
Calcium  15 mg
Phosphorous  9 mg
Iron  0.8 mg
Vitamin B1 0.04 mg
Vitamin B2  0.04 mg
Niacin  0.5 mg
Vitamin C   33 mg

Sap from the leaves and twigs is used as a fish poison. The cooked seeds are used as a treatment for diarrhea.

 

More information on pitomba 

Talisia esculenta (St. Hil.) Radlk. (Sapindaceae)

A brief fact sheet from the online publication “Fruits from America”.

 

 

   

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