An encyclopedia of 556 edible fruits of the world.



OAK LEAVED PAPAYA_Carica quercifolia

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Carica quercifolia)

 A young potted plant of oak leaved papaya

Synonyms: Vasconcellea quercifolia

Other names: Fig tree of the Mount, Mamón of the Mount, Higuera del Monte, Mamón del Monte

Oak leaved papaya is a fruit of South America.  It grows in Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay.  It is not cultivated commercially.

Fruits of oak leaved papaya

            Oak leaved papaya is a small herbaceous dioecious tree growing 5-8 m high.  The plant grows quite fast.  It is also a quite hardy plant and can withstand temperature upto 22 F.  The plant is, however, sensitive to excessive soil moisture.  The leaves are 8-35 cm long, membranous and glabrous on both sides, with a lighter green colour on ventral side.  Flowers are greenish yellow.  Male flowers are on axillary inflorescences and the female flowers are mostly solitary or in sparse racemes.  

Oak leaved papaya fruits on tree

            Fruits are small, 3 to 5 cm long and 1-2 cm in dia., bright orange and juicy.  These are eaten raw and have a sweet and a pleasant flavour.  The fruits are also reported to be rich in vitamin C.  Papain can also be extracted from fruits.

            Oak leaved papaya is a quite heavy bearer and can a mature tree can bear several hundred fruits.

            This plant can be propagated by seed as well as by cuttings.

PAPAYA DE MONTANA_Vasconcellea cauliflora

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vasconcellea cauliflora)

A tree of papaya de montana

Synonyms: Carica bourgeaei, Carica cauliflora, Carica pennata, Carica quinqueloba,

                   Vasconcella boissieri, Vasconcella cauliflora

Other names: bonete, mountain papaya, papaita, tapaculo, zonzapote, 
                          papaye de montagne.

Papaya de montana is a fruit from the Central American Region including Caribbean.  It grows semi-wild in Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad-Tobago and Venezuela. This plant generally grows in open areas and forest edge.  It is rarely seen in the Canal area.

Fruits of papaya de montana

It is also cultivated on a small scale for its fruits.


Papaya de montana is a small semi-woody tree, 3-6 m high, with a straight unbranched trunk.  The trunk is with scars of at points from where previous leaves have been shed.   The leaves are large and highly lobed. 

Papaya de montana leaves

It is a dioecious plant.  The male plants produce white flowers on long stalks out of the trunk and trunk near the leaves.  The female flowers are shorter on stalks.

Fruits are ovoid, subpentagonal to spherical, apex round or apiculate, up to 7 x 4 cm, and yellow.

Fruiting in papaya de montana


            The fruits are not eaten raw.  However, the pulp of papaya d montana fruits is used by local people for making candy, jams, cakes, and salted preparations.  Sherbets are also made from the pulp.

WILD MEDLER_Vangueria infausta

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vangueria infausta)

A tree of wild medler

Family: Rubiaceae

Common names: wilde mispel, Mpfilwa, Mmilo, muzwilu, mavelo, umViyo, umTulwa, umVilo, umbizo, umViyo, 
                           Mmilo, mothwanyê umVile, amantulwane.               

Wild medler is one of South Africa’s most popular wild fruits, and can be enjoyed while walking. This lovely little tree is considered to possess evil powers and not even the wood should be used for making fire. It is believed that it could cause cattle to bear only male offspring. Despite this, the plant is used extensively.


Wild medler is a deciduous shrub or small tree that varies in height from 3-7 m, depending on the habitat. It can be single or multistemmed, but usually the latter. The bark is greyish to yellowish brown, smooth and peeling in irregular small strips. The branchlets are covered with short, woolly hairs, especially when young. The leaves are single, oppositely arranged, as is typical of this family.

The leaves are light green in colour, covered with soft, velvety short hairs and even more so when young. The margin of the leaf is entire. The shape of the leaf is elliptic to ovate with the net veining conspicuous below. When older, the leaves often appear twisted and are rough to the touch.

Flowers of wild medler

            Soft, velvety, acorn-shaped buds appear either before or simultaneously with the new leaves around September to October. These open into small flowers, greenish white to yellowish in colour. They occur in clusters along the short lateral branches.

            The fruit is almost round, glossy dark green when young and changing to a light brown when ripe. The ripe fruit is soft and fleshy with a leathery skin that encloses 3-5 seeds embedded in soft pulp. 

Young developing fruits of wild medler

The fruit is edible and has a pleasant sweet-sour, mealy taste. It tastes like an apple. It can be found on the plants from January to April. The remains of the old flower base can be seen on the tip of the fruit.

Uses and economic value

The fruit is mostly eaten raw but in some parts it is stored as dried fruit to be used in time of food scarcity. A strong alcoholic drink or brandy can be distilled from it or fermented to make beer. If mixed with a little water and sugar it produces an acceptable substitute for apple sauce. The fruit juice can also be used for flavouring purposes by squeezing it out in water, discarding the seed and skins. This is done often for flavouring porridge.  Vinegar can be produced from the fruit.

Wild medler fruits

This plant has medicinal value as well. An infusion of the roots and leaves has been used to treat malaria, chest ailments like pneumonia, as a purgative and to treat ringworms. An infusion of the leaves is used for the relief of toothache. For the treatment of swelling of the limbs the affected parts are bathed in a decoction of the pounded leaves and small twigs, especially in children.


The wild medlar is a hardy and drought resistant plant that can withstand moderate cold. It is rarely cultivated in the trade. It can be propagated from fresh seed or cuttings. To make sure that it germinates readily, remove the outer skin and the pulp. Sow in well-drained, sandy seedling mix.

This plant is slow growing, but would make an attractive garden plant if trimmed from the start to form a specimen plant.


Karin Behr
Pretoria National Botanical Garden, Pretoria
South Africa

WHORTELBERRY_Vaccinium uliginosum

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium uliginosum)

 A plant of whortelberry

Family: Ericaceae

Other names: Bog billberry, Bog Whortelberry

Whortelberry is a plant from very cold areas in the temperate or even low altitude arctic regions of the Norhern Hemisphere.  It is found in such geographical areas of Europe, North America and Asia.


A small deciduous shrub, upto 10-75 cm tall, rarely 1 m with brown stems, twigs terete, puberulous to glabrous.

            Leaves scattered; petiole ca. 2 mm, puberulous; leaf blade obovate or elliptic to oblong, 1–3 × 0.6–1.5 cm, papery, abaxially glaucous, puberulous, adaxially subglabrous, secondary veins 3–5 pairs, fine veins evident especially abaxially, base cuneate or broadly cuneate, margin plane, entire, with 1 basal gland per side, apex rounded, sometimes retuse.

Leaves and flowers of whortelberry

            Inflorescences fasciculate, at end of shoot, 1–3-flowered; bracts caducous, 1.5–2.5 mm. Pedicel ca. 5 mm, glabrous; flowers 4- or 5-merous. hypanthium ca. 0.8 mm, glabrous; calyx lobes 4 or 5, triangular-ovate, ca. 1 mm, corolla greenish white, broadly urceolate, ca. 5 mm, glabrous; lobes triangular, ca. 1 mm, filaments ca. 1 mm, glabrous; anthers ca. 1.5 mm, thecae with 2 spurs, tubules slightly shorter than thecae

            Fruit is a dark blue-black 4 or 5 loculed berry, subglobose or ellipsoidal,  with a bloom, 5-8 mm wide, flesh, edible and sweet when ripe in late summer.


The berries are edible and juicy.  These taste sweet and are believed to be nutritious.  Some say that whotelberry fruits can cause headache if eaten in large quantity.

Whortelberry fruits

            The fruit can also be dried and used like raisins.

            The leaves are also dried and used as tea in some areas. 

            Whortelberry leaves are reported to be antiseptic, astringent, carminative, hypnotic and hypoglycaemic. An infusion of the leaves and sugar is given to a mother a few days after childbirth in order to help her regain her strength.


This fruit is mostly collected from the wild and not cultivated.  Bot it does not seem toi be difficult to bring it under cultivation.

            Whortelberry plant seem to require a moist or wet lime free soil, preferring one that is rich in peat or a light loamy soil with added leaf-mould and sunny locations.

            New plants can be raised from seed which require moist stratification fot 6-8 weeks.  Asexual propagation is feasible by layering and cuttings.

LINGONBERRY_Vaccinium vitis-idea

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium vitis-idea)

Lingonberry bushe in forest

Other names: Cowberry, foxberry, lowbush cranbaerry, mountain cranberry, partridgeberry, redberry.

Family: Ericaceae

Lingonberry is one of those fruits which are still not under commercial cultivation in spite of the fact their wide use.  The fruits are collected from the wild growing bushes and traded for use.  Lingonberry is a fruit of significant commercial importance.

Foliage and flowers of lingonberry

            It is considered to be a native of North America and is a common fruit species found in the Northern forests. 

            Lingonberry is widely used not only in North America but in Northern Europe too.


A short (less than 7 inches, or 18 cm, tall) and have single blooms. The leaves are ovate, 0.4 to 1 inch (1 to 2.5 cm) long, alternate, leathery, and evergreen. They have a dark green upper surface and a light green under-surface.

            Flowers are borne singly or in clusters in terminal racemes.  Flowers have four locules per ovary, four sepals, a bell-shaped corolla and eight stamens with nonspurred anthers. Pollen is borne in tetrads shed through a terminal pore in the anther. The ovary is inferior.

Fruits of Lingonberry

            Fruit a globose berry, carmine in color when ripe, up to 1 cm in diameter, 170 to 450 mg in weight, strong flavoured and tart.


Lingonberries are used fresh or frozen, incorporated into sauces, syrups, jellies, fillings, as well as drinks.  Lingonberries have a one of a kind taste,  that puts them in a class by themselves, and will complement any meal.

Preserve fruits of Lingonberry

            The fruits are considered to be nutritious and full of anti oxidants.


Lingonberry is still collercted from the wild all over the world and no where it is cultivated as an orchard crop.  Efforts are, however, going on every country for the standardization of cultivation techniques for this fruit.  Many researtchers/fruit growers rate it as a potential new crop. Khajru_phoenix_sylvestris

LOW BUSH BLUEBERRY_Vaccinium salicinum

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium salicinum)

A plant of low bush blueberry

Family: Ericaceae

Synonyms:  Vaccinium uliginosum salicinum

Low bush blueberry is one of very hardy fruits from North America.  It can be seen growing wild on peat bogs, rocky barrens and tundra from Alaska to New York.  It bears small edible fruits which are quite palatable.


A small deciduous shrub.

Flowers of low bush blueberry

Flowers hermaphrodite, pollinated by insects.


The fruits are eaten fresh as well as cooked.  These can also be dried and kept for use later during other months of the year.


Low bush blueberry is a very hardy fruit and it can grow in the coldest areas of the world.

Fruits and foliage of low bush blueberry

            The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant also has a preference for acid soils and can grow in very acid soil. It requires moist soil.      

            Low bush blueberry can grow both in open areas as well as in semi-shaded light woodlands.

New plants can be raised from seed.  For optimum germination, the seeds have to be cold stratified atleast for a period of three months.

Wild plants of low bush blueberry

            For asexual propagation, cuttings of half-ripe wood can be used.  These cuttings should be 5 – 8cm long and preferably with a heel.  The cuttings should be made in August and planted in hot frames. Layering in late summer or early autumn has also been suggested for asexual propagation..

KAMCHATKA BILBERRY_Vaccinium praestans

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium praestans)

A plant of kamchatka bilberry 

Family: Ericaceae

Other names: Iwa tsusuji, krasnika

Kamchatka bilberry seems to come from East Russia which is known for its cold and harsh climate.  It is known more as a garden plant and not as a fruit tree though it bears edible fruits which are eaten by local people.


A herbaceous slow growing perennial shrub, growing upto 20 cm.

Flowers of kamchatka bilberry

            Leaves obovate or orbicular, narrowed to the base, 2-6 cm long, 2.5-3.5 cm wide, thin, but stiff, serrulate on the edge. flowers with pink campanulate corolla 5-6 mm in length.

           Flowers pinkish white, hermaphrodite, corolla campanulate, 5-6 mm long; pollination by bees.

           Fruit a berry, globose, 8 – 10 mm in diameter, bright red, shiny, juicy, sweet-sour.      


The fruits are edible and taste like a strawberry.  These are eaten raw and also made into a jam or jelly.  

            The fruits are a good source of vitamin C containing 70 – 100 mg per 100 g pulp.

Ripe fruits of kamchatka bilberry

            In Russia, the juice of kamchatka bilberry fruits is believed to help tcure colds.   It is also said to improve digestion and possess tonic properties, cure hypertension as an effective means of reducing blood pressure.


Kamachatka bilberry is a very cold hardy plant.  It prefers acidic soils which should be well drained.  It can also grow in semi-shady locations.

            New plants are raised from seed as well as cuttings.  The seeds are, however, very slow to germinate and can sometimes take upto one year to come out.  The cuttings are also not easy to root.

            In gardens, kamchatka bilberry is good for planting in a rockery.

BLUE HUCKLEBERRY_Vaccinium ovalifolium

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium ovalifolium)

A portion of blue a huckleberry bush

Family:  Ericaceae

Other names: Oval leaf blueberry

Blue huckleberry is also a fruit of North America.  Its plants can be seen growing wild in coastal forests throughout southern Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.


It is a spreading shrub which may grow to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall. It has pink 14 in (0.64 cm) urn-shaped flowers

           Blue huckleberry is more or less like dwarf blueberry (Vaccinium caespitosum) so far as the fruits are concerned.  This species, however, differs in size.  The shrubs of this fruit are from 60 – 120 cm in height.

A fruit of blue huckleberry

            Blue huckleberry stems are angled in cross section.  The flower stalks are drooping.

            Fruits edible, pleasantly sweet, 10 mm in diameter, mostly borne singly.


The fruits have a pleasant sweet flavour.  These are eaten fresh.  These are also used is used in jams and jellies.  The fruits are reported to be a good source of vitamin C.   The fruit can also be dried for use later in the season.  The dried blue huckleberry fruits have a flavour somewhat like that of raisins.

            A liqueur is also made from blue huckleberry fruits.

            Leaves of this plant are used for tea during the winter.


Blue huckleberry plants prefer a moist but well drained soil where the pH ranges from 4.5 to 6.  The plant performs better in sunny locations which are free from winds.

            New plants can be raised from seed as well as cuttings and layering.  The seeds require cold stratification for 12-14 weeks.

BLUEBERRY_Vaccinium myrtillus

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium myrtillus) 

A wild growing bush of blueberry

Family: Ericaceae

Other name: Common billberry, billberry.

Blueberry can be seen growing wild on moorland and acid ground, including woods with open canopy in the temperate zones of Europe, Asia and North America.  The site of its origin has not been determined yet.

A day’s harvest of blueberries from the woods

             People have been using bilberry for food and also for medicinal purposes for centuries.  This fruit is, however has never been under cultivation and people have been gathering the berries from wild only.


A low shrub of about 0.2 to 0.6 m in height,  occurring in dense stands.

Leaves simple, toothed, borne on angular stems

Blueberry foliage and fruits

Flowers small, greenish pink, waxy, solitary or in pairs.

Fruit, a berry, small, 5-7 mm in diameter, pale red initially but bluish-black at maturity.


Bilberry fruits are eaten fresh as dessert, often with ice cream. The fruits are also stored in freezers for later use. Both fresh as well as frozen fruits have a wide range of culinary uses.

The fruitsused in confectionery as an ingredient and garnish for tarts. They are used for fruit salads, ices, sorbets, syrups, jams, jellies and liqueurs.

Bilberries have an energy value of around 16 kcal per 100 g. They are rich in vitamin A and in purple pigments (anthocyanins) that act antioxidants and free radical scavengers. The vitamin C content is about 15 mg per 100 g.


Bilberry is not cultivated in orchards.  All fruits come from wild plants only.  Harvesting bilberry is a very large scale operation in spite of its being a very labour-intensive operation because of the small size of both the berries and the shrubs on which they grow.

MOUNTAIN CRANBRRY_Vaccinium erythrocarpum

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium erythrocarpum)

A plant of mountain cranberry

SynonymsHugeriaerythrocarpaOxycoccuserythrocarpus, Vaccinium japonicum

Other nameBearberry

Family: Ericaceae

Mountain cranberry is a shrub native to southeastern North America at high altitudes in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and also in eastern Asia.  In nature it grows in thickets, rocky woods and summits.


Fruits of mountain cranberry


Mountain cranberry is a deciduous shrub growing upto a height of 1.5 m.  Leaves, serrulate-spinulose with glandular teeth;  corolla 4-lobed and strongly recurved, the lobes longer than the tube. 

Mountain cranberry flowers

            Fruit a berry, borne solitary in leaf axils and red to red-black colored. Calyx lobes are visible on the fruit.

Leaves of a mountain cranberry plant

            The somewhat transparent, scarlet berries have an excellent flavour.  These are eaten raw and also used in jellies etc.  These are also used in sweets.


Mountain cranberry requires a moist but freely-draining lime free soil, preferring one that is rich in peat or a light loamy soil with added leaf-mould.  It prefers acid soil with a pH in the range of 4.5 to 6.  The plants soon become chlorotic when lime is present. This plan succeeds in full sun or light shade though it fruits better in a sunny position.

            This fruit can be propagated by seed as well as cuttings.

            Mountain cranberry has been recommended for improvement by cultivation for its edible fruit.

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