A canoe plant, the native origins are obscure due to its long history of cultivation. Indo-Malaysia is the best guess. Called ohi’a ‘ai by the Hawaiians, this was a significant tree. It gave fruit, wood for carving, spiritual offerings, and decorations.
Ohi’a’ai goes by many other common names, including mountain apple and Malay apple. It is cultivated throughout the tropical world.
Ohi’a ‘ai grows up to 60 feet tall. The dark glossy leaves are arranged opposite. A delight to the eye whether in flower or not, Ohi’a ‘ai puts on a spectacular display when in flower. Even more beautiful when they fall to the ground creating a hot pink carpet. The abundant flowers are born off the trunk and in leafless areas of branches. Waxy fruits are pear-shaped and range in length from 2 to 6 inches long. Fruit ranges in color from white to red to magenta. Delicious fruits, they are crisp, juicy, and sweet with a hint of rose. Inside is one large seed.
It’s a fast grower, producing up to 2 crops of fruit a year, and is easy to propagate. Seeds are not true to their parents. Air layering, cuttings, and budding into seedling rootstocks will yield an exact clone of the parent tree. Ohi’a’ai grows well in any soil. Its primary need is constant water.
Ohi’a’ai is a strictly local fruit; quarantine requirements prevent the exportation of this food. It bruises easily when picked raising the cost of harvesting
- Cultural significance
- Privacy / screening
- No dangers