This family is made famous by the Purple Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) of the Malay peninsula. Considered by many to be the best fruit in the world and by most Asians to be the second best after the Durian. At this time I don’t know of any successful attempts to grow the tree in S.E. Qld. The growing of this tree has been the Holy Grail for some growers in our area and other simular climates around the world. This is a very tropical tree, in Florida there was supposed to be one tree that produced one fruit and then died. Doesn’t give much hope, does it. We probably do have a better chance, as we don’t have their occasional severe frost.
As a young boy I lived in Malaya for 6 years and I use to climb through the trees and eat the fruit regularly; the skin stained my clothes a greeny brown that didn’t wash out. You could make the best sling shots from the branches, the side branches came out at about 40 degs and you could bend and heat them and they kept their shape on cooling. These thin branches had tremendous strength, that’s what I remember! I don’t remember thinking that the fruit was any more than very nice though. There is a lot of other fruit in the family that can grow here with ease, and others that shouldn’t be too difficult. Most are sour, but some are quite palatable. Here is a list of some with info from different sources:
Mundu (Garcinia dulcis) I have one growing which I bought years ago; it is very simular to the Yellow Mangosteen. The fruit is not as sour; Sheryl liked it and she normally likes sweet things. One to two seed, 100 mm dia and it is not affected by the fruit fly. Our tree started producing fruit about year 7; this year it has produced about 40 fruit. It is reputed to have health benefits. I think it is like others in the family & has antibiotic benefits going by how well it keeps. The tree is pyramidal in shape with long leaves hanging down in pairs. Leathery and dark green with the young leaves being pink/red. A nice tree that is very tolerant of shade. Mine grows in the sun and is taking it well. It’s about four metres tall and is nine years old approx.
Yellow Mangosteen, Gamboge (Garcinia xanthochymus). This produces heavy crops of very sour fruit, although the flesh surrounding the 2 seeds is to me quite nice, (but I like lemons). There appears to be no pest problems in S.E. Qld. I have seen them growing in full sun in exposed positions, these had yellow leaves. At the opposite end of the scale in the deepest of shades in the Brisbane botanical gardens, these had dark green leaves. In all case they produced very heavy crops. They are very drought hardy but they probably would not take to much frost. This tree grows from Malaysia to India and is used for food, medication and colouring.
Other trees closely related to the purple mangosteen that are growing in or around S.E. Qld:
Bacupari (Rheedia brasiliensis) This is growing well in our garden, 1.5 metres high in 2 years. Supposed to be subacid and good eating.
Madrono (Rheedia madruno Rheedia acuminata) Cold hardy to 0 deg C. Thick yellow skin. Tangy aromatic, eaten fresh. Likes sweet soils. I have 2 trees labelled Madrono about 1 metre after 3 yrs. Should be one for us. South America
Madronio (Rheedia magnifolia) Another fruit with the same common name, my trees look different so who knows. Supposed to be very good, reasonably sweet with a bit of tang. Smooth skinned. South America.
Imbe (Garcinia livingstone) 25 to 30 mm. Hardy –2 deg C. Some say little flesh others worth growing. Taste is good. Thin skinned. Sun or shade, likes even water supply. There is a specimen in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens that has never impressed me, it looks very strange. East Africa
Mamey Apple Apricot of Santo Dominingo(Mammea americana). Good tasting fruit 100 to 200 mm. Thick leathery brown skin. 80 to 175 mm. Firm orange flesh, apricot flavoured in selected varieties. This one is a big tree, that grows well here. Seedlings can be male so get a grafted named variety. A very attractive tree. One of our members in the Glasshouse area had one growing, but it was a male as was all that batch that came down from the north at that time. Caribbean, Central America and Northern South America.
Some of the many others, in the family that sound good, but not sure of their cold tolerance:
Button Mangosteen or Cherapu (Garcinia prainiana)
Small fruit 40mm Sweet sour taste, acid pericarp , subacid pulp. Orange colour. Fruits early. Eaten fresh. From Thailand, Malaysia.
Brunei Cherry (Garcinia parvifolia) 1.5 cm fruit, red to yellow skin and a juicy, slightly tart white pulp. Sound good, but don’t know what its climatic tolerances would be. Borneo and Malaysia
Cochin gorka. Garcinia pictorius – Nice acid flavour. Eaten out of hand. Southeast Asia.
Cherapu. Garcinia prainiana – Sweet sour taste.. Eaten out of hand. Malaysia.
Gatdsan Garcinia venulosa -. Eaten out of hand, sourish taste. Southeast Asia, Philippines.
Goraka Garcinia cambogia – Eaten out of hand good subacid flavour. Also used in cooking Fruits are eaten as an appetizer, having succulent yellow pulp and a pleasant subacid flavor. Sri Lankan, Tropical Asia.
Garcinia hombroniana – This is the one which should be good. Peach like, eaten out of hand. Don’t know if it will grow here but worth a try. One of the parents of the Purple Mangosteen its thought. Malaysia.
Garcinia indica – Subacid pleasant fruit. Purple in colour. India
Garcinia cochinchinensis – plum size, reddish-yellow’, Subacid and juicy. Eaten out of hand.
Indian gamboge tree Garcinia morella -. Eaten out of hand. Small fruit.
Bunag Garcinia benthami -. Eaten out of hand, small fruit . Nice fruit. Subacid. Malaysia.
Asum gelugur Garcinia atroviridis –This one sounds simular to the Yellow Mangosteen. Tropical Asia.
Rheedia edulis – The oval, yellowish or orange fruits are eaten, having white flesh and an agreeable acid flavour. Often used for making jams. Cultivated locally, especially in Brazil. Central America. Rheedia macrophylla. 75mm fruit. Good flavour, eaten out of hand Brazilian Amazon.