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 10–25 metres (33–82
ft) tall. The leaves are alternate, 8–5 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 -4°C.
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. 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