Nutrition of Mountain Apples
By Heidi Bornhorst
Local Hawaii people are so Funny!
Nowadays people go nuts for Mangos and lychee and `ULU.
Even to far as buying them in the store!
Don’t you all think we should have some fruit trees in our gardens? And share with friends and neighbors? Let’s plant and grow some fruits today!
As kids, mangoes were like stray kittens, people would beg you to take them! We got jobs raking up the fallen smashed ones from super tall trees for elderly neighbors.
I could never get enough lychee even tho the trees were abundant in Makiki where I grew up. Lychee enticed me to move to Wahiawa where we had two lychee trees and then planted a third.
When you offer people mountain apples or `ohi`a `ai some are enthusiastic, some will help you pick and rake up and some meet the offer with distain.
Nutritionally they are great; lots of hydration for your body, and rich in vitamins C, Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and super rich in potassium.
Also known as `Ohi`a `ai, the `ohi`a that you eat (`Ai) they were carried here by ancient Polynesians in their sailing canoes, an important part of our “imported” landscapes and gardens.
What a gorgeous gift to find when hiking the low moist forests. This fruit will keep you hydrated on your hike!
And you can bring home a seed and grow it to commemorate that special hike. Surprise and share with your hiking buddies at the next festive occasion.
They are nice to grow in our gardens too. A small to medium tree with pretty leaves and bark most of the year and then BOOM! in flower so pretty magenta pom poms
A month or two later you will have that juicy ono fruit. Like jewels up in the tree canopy.
Besides eating them straight off the tree, you can slice and add to fruit salads.
Or as my niece Jalene found out for us, you can make pickles from them to savor for another day.
My friend and akamai farmer Deborah Ward makes a mean mountain apple pie and you can also make mountain apple sauce.
Add some slices to your favorite cold beverage.
You can make a lei with the smaller green and white fruit. Store the lei in the fridge and when you wear it “Fruit cooling air conditioning” ! I made one for my then boss, Sydney Iaukea at a Kupuna Hawaiian studies training session and the lei kept her cool all day.
It’s an unusual lei today. But easy to make and fun and unusual to wear.
The scientific name is Eugenia mallaccensis and they are in the MYRTACEAE plant family along with `Ohi`a lehua, guavas, rose apples, Eucalyptus, and more.
Some call them Malay apple as they are native to the Malay peninsula and southeast Asia.
We have different varieties in Hawaii, a pure white one, a seedless one, squat plump Hawaiian variety and long and big Tahitian variety.
Many grew naturally in the wet lowland tropics of Ho`omaluhia Botanic Garden and then we planted more in the “Kahua Kukui” Polynesian plants section of this amazing and FREE botanic garden in Kane`ohe.
They are easy and fun to grow from seeds. Save a seed from an ono one and plant it right away.
Besides the ono fruit and attractive flowers and tree, bringing shade and birds to yoru garden, mountain apples have medicinal uses.
The bark is a sore throat cure. If you feel a sore throat coming on or are getting a cold, scrape off some young bark, rinse it and chew it. It has lots of tannins and this truly can help ward off a cold.
The nutritious fruit will also help keep you healthy !