DixPix Photographs





Food crops tend to travel and be planted and even naturalized far from their origin.  Fruits such as bananas, apples and the citrus group are pandemic, wherever the climate allows them to flourish.  The fruits and vegetables discussed here are those which will be less familiar to people living in the "west", although specialty stores serving immigrants and others with adventurous tastes are slowly introducing some of them.


Let's start with the Durian (usually Durio zibethinus) which is now blamed on the Mallow Family.  Often described as the 'king of fruit' it is wildly popular and sold in quantity.  The problem is a penetrating smell, somewhere between excrement and rotten onions. Click to see big picture (640x424 pixels; 135 KB)
If you can get past the odour, the soft interior is actually quite tasty.  The overall experience is a bit like eating peach custard in an outhouse.  Click to see big picture (640x421 pixels; 107 KB)
Because the smell is so nauseating and pervasive, many hotels and other public places ban the fruit outright.  Some durian addicts actually claim that they like the smell. Click to see big picture (639x480 pixels; 89 KB)
Some foreigners confuse durians with jackfruit, although they differ in shape and smell, and are of different botanical families.  Here is a comparison. Click to see big picture (640x399 pixels; 84 KB)
Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) are called Nanka, and belong to the Fig Family, Moraceae.  Like many figs, the fruit grow from trunks or branches, and are considered the largest tree-bourne fruit in the world.  It is widely cultivated and eaten, often cooked or as a flour.  It is now considered invasive in parts of Brazil. Click to see big picture (589x480 pixels; 121 KB)
There are other species of Artocapus similar to Jackfruit in southeast Asia.  Take a close look at the surface segments, if they are six sided rather then five, they are likely Cempedak or Chempedak (A. integer). This isn't-- just another jackfruit. Click to see big picture (346x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is of the same genus as jackfruit, but with very different leaves.  Known as Sukun, it is often picked green and cooked as vegetable. Click to see big picture (631x480 pixels; 131 KB)
Breadfruit seem to vary greatly in appearance, here is a relatively smooth example from Sarawak, which is likely a seedless cultivar.  The species originated in the Asian Pacific area, and is a staple on some of the Pacific Islands. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 110 KB)
Although the common Mango (Mangifera indica) originated in India, it reached the Indonesian area in prehistoric times.  Now it it pan-tropical and no stranger to markets in North America. mango
The Wild Mango (Mangifera pajang) originated in the Indonesian-Malaysian area, and is still not widely known despite a delicous, slightly lemony taste.  It is locally known as either Membangan or Asam embang. wild mango
Noni (Morinda citrifolia) if a gift from the Coffee Family, Rubiaceae.  Although edible, it is bitter and considered emergency food.  Southeast Asian in origin it is now widely planted.  The local name is Mengkudu. Research has not supported the folk-medicine claims for this unusual fused-composite fruit. Click to see big picture (640x439 pixels; 64 KB)
From the Citrus Family, Rutaceae, this is Citrus maxima (or grandis) which is known on the world stage as Pomelo.  It is of southeast Asian origin, where it figures in cusine and folk medicine and known in Bahasa as Jeruk Bali.  Considered one of the roots of modern grapefruit, which is a hybrid. pomelo
And then there is Water Apple or Wax Apple.  Scientifically messed up as Syzygium samarangense (or aqueum), alias Eugenia javanicum (or aquea).  The taste is delicate, and it indeed seems to be mostly water.  They are from the Myrtle Family. Click to see big picture (607x480 pixels; 83 KB)
The water apple trees are appreciated as much for their flowers as for their fruit, but locals are often glad to pick a few for inquisitive foreigners.  The Indonesian name is Jambu Air (water guava) and it is called Laulau in Papua New Guinea. Click to see big picture (603x480 pixels; 99 KB)
This is the flower of the closely related Malay Apple (Syzygium malaccense), whose fruit is known as Jambu Merah (red guava) or Jambu bol (ball guava), which is stewed to make jams. Click to see big picture (402x480 pixels; 101 KB)
Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus sp.) is actually derived from a cactus vine, native to Central America.  It seems to be more appreciated in the Orient than in the West, however, and is a favorite of the writer.  It is known as Pitaya in Indonesia and Buah Naga in the Malay form of Bahasa. Click to see big picture (640x371 pixels; 91 KB)
Entimun 'melons' in a Sarawak market.  These are sweet and usually eaten raw.  Their full name, Buah Entimun Betu, suggests they are considered a fruit (buah), although the name likely derives from that of a cucumber (mentimun). Click to see big picture (404x480 pixels; 77 KB)
A large melon vine encountered in the jungles of Sumatra.  Native companions called it 'Kondor', but seemed uncertain as to its edibility.  Nobody volunteered to try.  The leaves would suggest the Cucumber Family. Click to see big picture (628x480 pixels; 108 KB)
The Elephant Apple from coastal Sabah.  This is Dillenia indica of the Dilleniaceae family, and is widely known as Chulta. Click to see big picture (552x480 pixels; 128 KB)
Elephant Apples are native to southeast Asia.  They are edible, but apparently sour and mainly used for curries and jellies. Click to see big picture (640x476 pixels; 147 KB)
This is Langsat fruit (Lansium domesticum) of the Meliaceae family.  It grows wild in Sumatra, but is widely planted, both for its tasty, translucent flesh and for folk medicine.  Click to see big picture (625x480 pixels; 135 KB)
Starfruit (Averrhoa carambola) is one fruit native to Indonesia and thereabouts that is fairly well known in the West. It is from the Oxidaceae family, and typically contains elevated oxalic acid.  The local name is Carambola. Click to see big picture (343x480 pixels; 76 KB)
Closely related to Starfruit, is the Cucumber Tree. This seems to have originated in Indonesia, but is now common in the tropics.  Averrhoa bilimbi is easen in many forms and goes by many names, Belimbing Sayur or Belimbing bulu being common. belimbing
Snakefruit (Salacca zalacca) is rather unique, but very popular.  Locally called Salak, the English name refers to the snake-like skin.  The sweetest salak are said to come from Bali, and the fruit may be peeled by pinching the tip. Click to see big picture (636x480 pixels; 139 KB)
Snakefruit is actually from a very thorny member of the Palm family.  The flowers shown here sprout from the base of the plant and are anything but attractive. Click to see big picture (614x480 pixels; 166 KB)
One of the most common fruit snacks is Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum), of the Sapindaceae.  Their little red balls are sold everywhere. Click to see big picture (640x444 pixels; 159 KB)
In fact if you stop at a filling station you will likely be plied with them by young vendors. Rambutans originated in India and southeast Asian, but are now widely enjoyed. Click to see big picture (640x435 pixels; 100 KB)
They may look spiny, but they are not prickly.  The skin easily comes off to reveal a pulp with a consistency and taste much like the related Lychee. Click to see big picture (627x480 pixels; 89 KB)
The Lychee fruit itself, as its name Litchi chinensis suggests, originated in China.  However, it came early to Malyasia and Indonesia, there is even an javensis subspecies. lychee
It is possible to see what fruits and other delicacies are in season in Bali, they are tastefully displayed in the ritual sacred offerings carried on the heads of women. Click to see big picture (640x452 pixels; 110 KB)
Looking around the average market, there are more vegetables than fruits, often sold with a smile.  In markets such as this one in Sumatra, there is a good variety and many will be familiar in the West. Click to see big picture (640x428 pixels; 119 KB)
Here in village market in Papua New Guinea, there is much less variety, and some odd items. Click to see big picture (640x413 pixels; 110 KB)
In northern Suluwesi, root vegetables are important.  The large ones are Cassava (Manihot esculenta).  It is South American in origin, but now a staple across the tropics, and known as Singkong in Indonesia.  It is the third largest carbohydrate source in the world. Click to see big picture (631x480 pixels; 121 KB)
In the final analysis, many come to markets as subsistence farmers, with only one crop in small quantities.  This is Petai, Stink Bean in English. Click to see big picture (502x480 pixels; 95 KB)