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Abiu (Pouteria Caimito)
Abiu is definitely one of those fruit that will wow you at the very first time. Abiu is usually eaten fresh. You just cut the fruit in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the soft flesh inside. A ripe Abiu has a unique taste. The creamy white flesh is extremely delicate, lightly sweet, with a strong hint of caramel and vanilla. Some people describe the flavour as similar to a crème caramel flan!
Our Abiu variety is originally from Taiwan. The seeds we got is from our own mother plants in Malaysia that fruit just after 3 years from seeds. The fruit is extraordinary large, juicy and jelly like and very sweet.
The fruit is Ovoid to round, 1 ½–4 inches (3.8–10.2 cm) in diameter, 10 –25 oz (283–708 g), commonly with a short nipple at the apex. The peel is smooth, tough, and pale to bright yellow when ripe. The pulp is white, translucent, jelly-like, strong flavoured, and sweet. There are 1–5 brown seeds. Fruit take 100–130 days from flowering.
Abiu grows best in hot, humid, tropical climates with well distributed rainfall. Trees may grow well in warm, humid, subtropical areas if protected from constant winds and freezing temperatures. Optimum growth temperatures are from 20–35°C. Abiu trees are sensitive to cool, non-freezing temperatures and windy conditions, and should be planted only in warm, wind-protected areas. Young trees may be killed at temperatures below 0’C and mature trees at -0.5– -1.6°C. They are happily growing in a large pot.
In ideal conditions and the right climate Abiu will fruit within 5 years. In NZ, it might take 5-7 years to fruit.
How to Get Started?
All seeds need water, oxygen, and proper temperature in order to germinate. Some seeds require proper light also. Some germinate better in full light while others require darkness to germinate. When a seed is exposed to proper conditions, water and oxygen are taken in through the seed coat. The ideal soil temperature for germinating seeds is between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. Once the seeds germinate, the soil temperature needs to be cooler than the optimum germination temperature to support the growth of seedlings.
Abiu seeds are big and protected in a thick long shell. Using a small cheese grater, lightly scarify the root end of the seed prior to soaking in warm water. They should be planted flat or at an angle with the root end down and left uncovered. The mix needs to be well drained, with at least 50% perlite or coarse sand, and should be maintained uniformly moist but not waterlogged. Coco peat is another option for a good seed sowing media. Alternatively use a high quality seed raising mix and add some light sand or top soil. Use water misting to keep the soil moist. Another method is by placing seeds in a rockwool, and keep them in a resealable bag and spray with water often. It may take up to 90 days for seeds to germinate, some species of plants may take even longer.
Using a heat mat will certainly increase seed germination rates but not necessary. Sometimes seeds turn to dormancy during the colder season and will sprout as soon as the first signs of spring occur. Always soak your seeds for up to 24 hours prior to planting. Apply some light fungicide solution on the seeds, pat them dry prior to sowing to avoid mould growing on seeds. Do not soak the seeds for more than 24 hours for the soft shell or skinned on seeds whilst soaking for 48 hours for a hard shell seed is quite acceptable. Small seeds usually germinate better with some light whilst bigger seeds need to be slightly above the surface. Do not sow seeds too deep unless it’s a hard shelled seed. If the seeds are sown too deep, they need extra energy to get to the surface for light.
Once germination occurs, gives plenty of light, remove any cover and never miss any watering so the top of soil is always moist. If the seedlings receive plenty of heat and sun, they may need watering once a day or every second day. Usually seedlings can be transferred to another size pot once there are 2 leaves showing. The ideal size of pot is three times the size of root ball. Prepare a good quality potting mix in advance before repotting the plant. The next repotting should only be after 6-8 months once the seedlings are more established. Try not to transplant any subtropical fruit trees directly into the ground until they pass their first winter at the minimum.
Abiu loves a rich and well draining soil. Full or partial shade is ok. Keeping the plant warm between 21-29 degrees Celsius is ideal, or they are happy in a greenhouse or growing indoors at room temperature. Plants will grow to the size of the pot, and minimal watering and fertilizing is required around winter and more often around the spring till the end of summer. Subtropical plants usually prefer well composted animal manure as fertiliser. However an alternate feed with general fertiliser is acceptable and some seaweed or worm juice every 2 to 4 weeks during growth time will see them growing strong and healthy. Never used sheep pellets for pot plants - especially for subtropical fruit plants.
Keep subtropical plants in the warmest area indoors or in a greenhouse/polytunnel for their first 1-2 years and slowly introduce to a shaded outdoor area when the weather is good. Keep young seedlings protected from frost and strong wind.
Good luck and happy growing!
This is generic advice only and your results may vary.
Laws around the purchase and use of plant seeds vary from country to country. Please be aware that germination of some seeds may be considered illegal in some countries whilst it is perfectly acceptable in another. We ask that all visitors to this website understand their national laws before ordering. We expect that you will act lawfully in your country of origin and ExoticaNZ - Plant Enthusiasts cannot be held responsible if you do not.
Germinating and growing subtropical plants require a level of skill, patience, commitment and little bit of luck. Whilst we try our very best to provide you with as much information as possible such as the growing guide, we cannot guarantee the result you desire. Note that ExoticaNZ - Plant Enthusiasts do not claim to be ‘plant experts’ in any capacity; as such we simply can’t promise you anything other than ongoing support in your subtropical plant growing journey. We ask that you do your own research and make an informed decision prior to purchase.
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