The Abiu tree is an evergreen in the tropics. It likes a temperature range between 68 and 95 F (20 to 35 C.)
The tree can grow 30 to 120 feet (9 to 35 metres) tall. It can be grown from seed, though it doesn’t always grow true to seed: it must be grafted to guarantee consistent fruit.
The tree will have leaves 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) long. It flowers with blooms that last for about 2 days.
It will start bearing fruit when it is about 3 years old, ripening in March and April, though grafted trees may start bearing fruit sooner. Once mature, a tree can have 100 to 1,000 fruits on it, producing about 440 pounds ( 200 kg) of fruit a year. A tree will remain productive for about 20 years.
The fruit is slightly oval, and 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) wide. Depending on the cultivar, it will weigh up to 1 pound (500g.) It has tough skin that ripens from green to light yellow to bright yellow.
Unripe fruits contain a gummy latex and are astringent tasting. Ripening continues after being picked. When ripe, the fruit is very soft and fragile, bruising easily, and so is picked by hand. For market, they are picked while still unripe and firm.
Inside, the flesh of the fruit is off-white and gelatinous, with 1 to 4 brown seeds inside. The taste varies a great deal by cultivar, many of which are still known just by trial names such as “Z3.” Depending on the cultivar, the fruit may actually not have much taste at all. Cultivars with good flavour include ones named “Z1, Z2 and Z3.” The “Gray” cultivar produces good flavoured fruit up weighing up to 2 pounds (900g.)
With any luck, the fruit is sweet, having a taste that some liken to creme caramel.
Abiu is not cultivated much commercially. In South America, the fruit is often infested with insect eggs and larvae.
Attempts are being made to trial the fruit commercially in Australia.
Good chilled. The flesh discolours quickly when cut the fruit is cut open. Discard seeds. Don’t eat any latex close to the skin; it will gum up your lips.
Let ripen at room temperature out of sunlight, then store in refrigerator.
Native to eastern Andes and the Amazon.