Common Ground Landscape Design

The Strangest Fruit in the World

This past winter, my husband and I went to Jamaica for 10 days of fun and sun. We got off the plane changed our luggage, and got right back on the plane and went to England. Before going to this tropical paradise I started to do some research beyond where to stay and where to rent a car. I began to look at native brids, native trees, native butterflies etc... There is a question that always fascinates me. "What is it about this landscape that contributes to the particular adaptablilites of these species?" Of my findings I discovered that Jamaica has a native 6" butterfly, and that their national fruit is the Ackee. I had never heard of this fruit before. I resisted the temptation to look at it on the internet, when I discovered that it would be ripe just at the time that we were there. Better to see it in the flesh, so to speak.

It turns out that getting any ackee would be a little life risking. With out knowing what the tree looked like "in person" we had to rely on the fruit stalls along the side of the high way. So, here was the dilemma. Have you ever driven in Jamaica? I thought not, so let me tell you it is no easy feat. People only honk in Jamaica to let you know that they are passing you at break-neck speeds. So, trying to find a fruit stand on our way to the Blue Mountains (grogeous coffee) that had the fruit, and there was a safe place to pull over was not for the faint of heart. We perservered, and I was for the princely sum of 100J ($1.39 CAD) the proud new owner of a dozen fresh picked ackee fruit.

Here are 4 things that we didn't know about ackee before eating it.

1. It is extremely poisonous in the very center if you eat the red bits. 

2. It should not be eaten raw, (avoiding the red bit) not that you'll get sick, it just that it tastes utterly terrible.

3. The fruit must naturally open from it's skin to to be considered ripe.

4. It is THE strangest looking fruit we had ever seen. Science Fiction couldn't create a funnier more terrestrial looking speciman.

After spending 10 minutes just gawking at it at the side of the road, pulling back each layer of flesh and photographed it, we finally held a piece excited and ready to know what it would taste like. We counted to 3 and each ate our piece, and immediately spat it out and started laughing. Some thing wasn't right, who would eat this rubbery, saw dust tasting fruit? A moment later 2 kids on bicycles stopped to say hi, and we asked them if they would like our ackee, cause it just tasted terribble. "You dont eat it raw, you have to boil it and eat it with salty fish!" ooohhhh.......

Well then.....

A few hours later safely tucked away at the most gorgeous hotel in the Blue Mountains, we showed the kitchen staff our ackee. They laughed and made for us the most delicious salt fish and ackee dish, my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. Sadly, in the diaspora you can only get it in tins.

So if you ever go in February to Jamaica, you must try Ackee!


Ackee with the skin on


This is the ackee with the skin on and a huge black shiney seed poking out.












acke with the skin off facing the camera




This is the ackee fruit. This is quite possibly the strangest looking fruit in the world. You can only eat the fleshy white part.







a close up of the ackee fruit




Here she is, close up and personal.










Individual section of the ackee fruit















This is the poisonous red




This is the poisonous red center bits.










up close section of the ackee fruit






This what it looked like just before we ate it, and then spat it out.







Other amazing highlights of the trip are....................

Jake's at Treasure Beach

The Blue Marlin at Treasure beach

Murray's Jerk Shack on the main HWY from Mandeville to Kingston in Clarendon. Chicken cooked right over Pimento wood. Gorgeous! best Jerk chicken in the world.

Blue Mountain Coffee

The glowing waters of 
Falmouth Bay/ Luminous Lagoon 

YS falls

Appleton Rum Estates

Rent a car and drive the island, It is so beautiful!


The world around me in Toronto is blooming like crazy. The Magnolias are finished, and the Lilacs and Lily of the Valley are at their peak. It is a sweet sweet time to be in the garden.


More to come.  Beth Laughing