Tokyobling's Blog

Mystery Fruit

Posted in Stuff by tokyobling on December 16, 2008

On Sunday I picked up this fruit from a tree growing in an abandoned garden close to my home here in Tokyo. I have never seen anything like it and when I cut it open it had a pumpkin like interior with thick pomegranate seeds and a sweet faint smell. The interior really looked like a mix of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie! If you know what it is, please let me know!

Mystery Fruit

Mystery Fruit

Update! I went past the old garden this morning and even though Tokyo might be very far south as far as geography is concerned we do get some pretty cold winters. All the tree in the garden were green – except for the myster fruit tree – no leaves, just bare branches. Under the watchful eyes of the local cops (the “satsu” if you’re up to your hip Japanese yakuza slang) and a typhoon like storm of ice and rain I didn’t feel like whipping out my trusty Nikon. Instead I dug up this old photo of the interiors of said mystery fruit. Perhaps this will make it easier to identify?

Cut in half - sweet

Cut in half - sweet

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28 Responses

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  1. Larry said, on January 7, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Don’t eat it….It is a colon palup from a dragon

    Like

  2. an9ie said, on January 29, 2009 at 4:11 am

    Nope, no idea. Sorry!

    Like

  3. jon singer said, on January 29, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Hi.

    Any chance you could send or post photos of the tree, a branch, the upper side of a leaf, the under side of a leaf, and the inside of a fruit? A flower photo would also help, but I tend to doubt that it’s flowering in January.

    From your description, it sounds vaguely like it might be a guava relative, but that’s definitely a longshot from insufficient data.

    Best —
    jon

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on January 30, 2009 at 12:19 am

      Thanks! I’ll definitely head over to that old junkyard of a garden and snap some photos. I hope the local cops wont bother me (It is smack in front of a small police station). I’ll update this post and let you know once I have the photos up!

      Like

  4. jon singer said, on January 30, 2009 at 3:35 am

    Hi again.

    Definitely hope the local constabulary will ignore you or at least be pleasant about noticing you.

    Looking forward to your update.

    Cheers and thanks —
    jon

    Like

  5. jon singer said, on January 31, 2009 at 6:03 am

    This came off a tree?? It looks like a _Passiflora_ species! The one seed I think I can see fairly clearly appears to be shaped like a little arrowhead, which is something I’ve only seen in passionfruits so far. Here’s an example:

    http://www.passionflow.co.uk/biclose112.htm

    If it was really off a tree, and not off a vine growing into a tree, I’m probably stumped, at least for the moment.

    Here, btw, is the inside of an ordinary purple passionfruit:

    Seems to me that there is a certain amount of similarity. There are also some differences, though — passionfruits don’t usually have pointy bottom ends, and most of them do not stay green when they are ripe.

    I would still like to see leaves, but now the flowers become more important. One good flower photo would settle the _Passiflora_ question instantly, though if the answer is “nope”, we still don’t know what it is.

    Anyway, many thanks for posting the new photo!

    Cheers —
    jon

    Like

  6. tokyobling said, on February 1, 2009 at 3:52 am

    Hi Jon, thanks for taking the time! I agree it looks similar to passion fruit inside, but the taste (I know I actually tried it!) and the colors are very very different. Also the seeds are bigger and more pyramid shaped rather than those beautiful arrowheads. I keep passing that tree a couple of times a week so in spring when the flowers come out I’ll try to take some pictures of it. I assume it could have been a wine, but it seems more like it came straight off the tree. The leaves were big! I remember I was surprised until I remembered that many fruit trees have big leaves.

    Like

  7. jon singer said, on February 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Hi again.

    My pleasure. I have been curious about plants and flowers and fruits since I was very small, and I like challenges. From what you say about the taste and the seeds, it definitely is not a Passiflora, and I’m sure you are right that it came from the tree.

    I look forward to the spring, and to photos of flowers.

    Best wishes —
    jon

    Like

  8. Marcos said, on February 9, 2009 at 12:45 am

    It’s a COCOA to make chocolate

    Like

  9. jon singer said, on February 9, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Concerning Cocoa:

    1) Typo: it’s _Cacao_. (Cocoa is a brown powder that’s made from it.)

    2) Interesting notion, but _Theobroma_cacao_ is seriously tropical, and will die if exposed to temperatures around freezing. Moreover, if you look at pictures of the insides of cacao pods, you will see that they look considerably different. The pulp is ivory, not yellow; it is oriented differently, as are the seeds within it; and the seeds, which are larger in proportion, are not dark. Also, although there is no scale in the photos, I think that your fruit looks like it is about 2″ long; a good-sized cacao pod is probably about 9″ long.

    Best —
    jon

    Like

  10. David H James said, on September 2, 2010 at 4:05 am

    Tamarillo?
    I came across this fruit in Taiwan growing on a tree and wondered what it was. I found this page from the comment that someone said the insides look like a passion fruit, because that’s the only clue I had and so googled “similar to passion fruit” + tree. I’m pretty sure now that what I found was a Tamarillo. Hope this helps. 🙂

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on September 2, 2010 at 5:46 am

      Thanks David! That might be it! Or at least, a local variant of the Tamarillo. Funny thing is, I pass that house a couple of times a week and I’ve been looking hard every time for a flower or a green leaf or another fruit but despite being abundant up until 2009 it is now completely gone. It had no taste, sort of a like a weak pumpkin (I didn’t dare eat it but I tasted it).

      Like

  11. jon singer said, on September 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Hi.

    My hat’s off to David H. James — I think he has nailed it. I checked, and all of the tamarillo pictures I saw showed dark seeds. One even had the inside of the fruit dished out onto a plate, and it _did_ look like passionfruit innards.

    If you can get a good photo of leaves (and especially flowers), and compare it against photos on the Web, I suspect that you’ll find they match. If that’s the case, you can probably actually eat the fruits, if the tree hasn’t been sprayed with anything noxious and if the homeowners don’t mind.

    Cheers, and thanks again —
    jon

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on September 3, 2010 at 3:50 am

      Hi Jon, it’s been over a year and a half! Welcome back! I saw your website by the way, excellent ceramics. I have always had an interest in ceramics and kilns but photography won out (both hobbies are a bit expensive when it comes to equipment).

      I’m happy to hear that you agree with Mr. James’ verdict! As I wrote earlier, the plant has mysteriously vanished from the abandoned garden where it once grew. Perhaps last years cold Tokyo winter killed it off for good?

      Like

  12. jon singer said, on September 3, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Hi!

    Yup, been a while. I’m very pleased that you like my work — it is something I am deeply involved in & work on quite a bit.

    You are correct: both pottery and photography tend to be expensive. I have been supremely lucky about this: I’ve got about 8 kilns here, but I only had to buy one (1); that one cost me ten dollars at the State surplus outlet. True, it took about 200 dollars to bring it to working condition, but even that isn’t nearly as much as I spend on a camera. People keep giving me kilns they aren’t using, and some of them have been quite nice, even though they are old. In fact, I was given another one about three weeks ago.

    The wheel is another expensive item, but sometimes good ones are available at auctions or surplus sales. I actually built my first one myself. Cost me perhaps 50 dollars, took a lot of time, and taught me quite a bit.

    My current cameras, btw, are a Canon G11, which is very decent and incredibly small & handy, and a lovely old Sony DSC-R1, which I had to buy used, on eBay, because they discontinued it shortly before I heard that it existed. The reviews of the Sony say things like “The lens alone is worth the entire price of the camera.” It’s quite something, but of course it doesn’t have image stabilization or anything fancy by today’s standards (except a relatively gigantic sensor and live through-the-lens viewing), and it doesn’t take video. I will use the Canon if I need to do that, but I almost never need video, so it hasn’t been an issue yet.

    I managed to miss your mention of the fact that the plant itself had vanished; I probably should have suggested, back when you had the fruit handy, that you save seeds from it. (For one thing, if the owners liked the plant and didn’t rip it out on purpose, you could essentially have given it back to them.) I suppose you could always buy seeds and give them to the people at that house… maybe a silly thought.

    Best —
    jon

    Like

  13. Tassy said, on October 20, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    hey, i don’t know if you haven’t find the name, its bitter and sweet? i think its “Mad” its a fruit you can find in some african country ( and japan in apparently)

    http://www.google.fr/images?hl=fr&client=safari&rls=en&q=mad%20fruit&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on October 25, 2010 at 12:57 am

      Hi Tassy! Thanks for the info! I had no idea about that fruit, it does look a little different but it’s pretty close! I wonder if it could be a local variant? I’m not much of a botanist so I don’t know how different similar species of fruit can be. I have a dried specimen at home, perhaps I should get the seeds out and send them around to some universities and see what they can do with it?

      Like

      • Tassy said, on October 25, 2010 at 7:35 pm

        you should eat it to see :p if its bitter and sweet, its sure, Mad. i think it must be a variant. there is some same fruit between africa and asia but a bit different :p Im sure sure sure its Mad! lol and you should eat one its very delicious!!

        ( ps : i hope you can understand my english, im pretty bad )

        anyway, let me know if you find .
        Tassy

        Like

        • tokyobling said, on October 26, 2010 at 12:44 am

          Tassy, thanks for the info! I haven’t been brave enough to taste this fruit, and the dried up one I have is hardly fit for eating any more. If I find them served in a restaurant I will definitely give them a try though! And don’t worry about your English, my English is terrible as well. (^-^)

          Like

          • Tassy said, on October 26, 2010 at 7:57 pm

            lolz, yeah!^^ i really like this fruit and so happy when my mom take it at home!
            Your English? terrible? are you kidding? , anyway! nice blog!! =) i continue to read! lol im far from the most recent post!)

            Like

          • tokyobling said, on October 27, 2010 at 12:16 am

            Now I’m really curious about the fruit! I hear it’s very popular in west Africa, does this mean your mother often goes there? Thanks, I wish I could write in my native language, but after so many years in foreign countries I suck at all languages! (^-^;)

            Like

  14. Tassy said, on October 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    lol no unfortunately, she don’t. There is a place on Paris where we can buy this fruit and some other exotic fruit =)
    what is you origin? Im Mauritanian :p
    aww i love traveling!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on October 28, 2010 at 12:16 am

      My first Mauritanian visitor! (^0^) Very exotic! Lucky you – fruit is quite expensive here in Japan…

      Like

      • Tassy said, on October 28, 2010 at 6:31 pm

        lol yeah, but im french and i live in Paris lol but still mauritanian, so youy first mauritanian visitor! congraat! :p
        uhn, i hear that.

        Like

  15. yoyoyo said, on March 24, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    It’s definitely a fruit from the ‘Passifloraceae’ family which includes both trees and vines. Passifloraceae is a very large, widespread and cosmipolitan family that includes many weedy species. Ther reason your fruit looks so strange is because it was picked too soon (or the plant died from cold etc) and it has become half dried out. Passionfruits often won’t reach their full potential when grown in the wrong climate.

    So in conclusion. I don’t know exactly what species it is, but it’s definitely a passionfruit relative, (quite possibly a weed).

    Did you grow the seeds?

    Like

    • jon singer said, on March 25, 2011 at 6:50 pm

      Hi.

      @yoyoyo — The interior certainly made it look like a _Passiflora_ fruit to me; but judging from what Tokyobling has said I think it may not be: the seeds do not seem to be the right shape, and the flavor apparently didn’t match. Also, when I look at images of _Passiflora_ and related fruits on the Web, I don’t see pointy ends.

      You may want to check the comment from David H. James, and look up _Cyphomandra_… OTOH, most of those aren’t really pointy either, and they don’t seem to have the sharp delineation between rind and pulp that the _Passiflora_ fruits do. I guess this remains something of a mystery.

      It is particularly annoying because the photo of the whole fruit looks really familiar. I could swear I’ve seen something very much like it. Ever try to do a Websearch to find a picture that resembles another picture?

      Cheers —
      jon

      Like

    • tokyobling said, on March 31, 2011 at 4:35 am

      Yoyoyo, I haven’t tried growing the seeds, but I have collected many samples and will start taking leaf samples this spring. In case you want a few seeds let me know and I can mail them to you. I actually have a pretty good guess as to what the plant is but I think I will need to get confirmation on it before I blurt anything out. It’s amazing that no trained biologists have been able to name the plant correctly so far! Stay tuned and thank you for the insightful comment!

      Like


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