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Melicoccus bijugatus Spanish lime   Sapindaceae

Spanish lime, Melicoccus bijugatus

Spanish lime, Melicoccus bijugatus

Melicoccus bijugatus, commonly called Spanish lime, genip, genipe, mamoncillo, or honeyberry, is a fruit-bearing tree in the soapberry family Sapindaceae, native or naturalised over a wide area of the tropics, including South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and parts of Africa and the Pacific.

Melicoccus bijugatus is a large tree, growing 1025 metres (3382 ft) tall. The leaves are alternate, 85 cm long, pinnate with two or four opposite leaflets (no terminal leaflet). Leaflets are usually 4 to 14 centimetres (1.6 to 5.5 in) long (sometimes as much as 20 centimetres (7.9 in)) and 2.2 to 5 centimetres (0.87 to 2.0 in) wide (occasionally up to 7 centimetres (2.8 in)).

The fruits are green at maturity. Each fruit has a large seed inside, the same ovoid shape as the fruit itself. The seeds have a fleshy tan-coloured edible seed coat, the testa.

Melicoccus bijugatus is native to northern South America and naturalised in coastal and dry forest in Central America, the Caribbean and parts of the Old World tropics. It is believed to have been introduced into the Caribbean in pre-Colombian times.

Being tropical, M. bijugatus prefers warmer temperatures. Its leaves can be damaged if the temperature hits the freezing point, with serious damage occurring below -4C.

It is grown and cultivated for its ovoid, green fruit, which grow in bunches.The fruit, somewhat like a cross between a lychee and a lime, has a tight and thin, but rigid layer of skin, traditionally cracked by the teeth.[citation needed] Inside the skin is the tart, tangy, cream pulp (technically the seed coat), which is sucked by putting the whole fruit inside the mouth (the seed takes most of the volume of what is inside the skin). Despite the light color of the fruit's flesh, the juice stains a dark brown color, and was often used by indigenous Arawak natives to dye cloth.

The species is also commonly planted along roadsides as an ornamental tree.

Spanish lime, Melicoccus bijugatus Spanish lime, Melicoccus bijugatus Spanish lime, Melicoccus bijugatus