One day, this past August, my daughters and I did a video of the fruit in our yard.
Our yard in Puerto Armuelles, Panama.
We were surprised at the number of fruit trees we have.
So instead of one long video, we are making 13 short ones.
We are producing the videos in them in alphabetical order, as follows.
(1) Almonds, 2) Bananas, 3) Cashews, 4) Coconuts, 5) Crioyos (native orange) 6) Eucalyptus (rainbow type – yes, not a fruit, but its leaves are useful), 7) Lemons, 8) Mangos, 9) Maracuya (Passion Fruit), 10) Nance, 11) Papaya, 12) Pineapple, and 13) Plantains. There are many more fruits in Panama, but these are the ones that grow in our yard, or right across the street.
Tropical Almond Tree
In this 1st video, we celebrate the tropical almond.
Transcription of the video appears further down the page.
Not A True Almond Tree
True Almond trees do not grow in the tropics. Panama’s almond tree (Terminalia catappa) is not related to the true almond tree. True almond trees are the ones that produce the almonds we buy at the store.
The tropical almond tree got its name because its seed pods look like large unshelled almonds plus its seeds/kernels resemble almonds. It also goes by many other names: sea-almond, Indian-almond, false-almond, country-almond, and many more.
However, unlike true almonds, the outside of the fruit is also edible. Plus you don’t have to cook the seed to eat it. Both the seeds and the fruit of the tropical almond are edible in the uncooked, raw state,
Where & How It Grows
The tropical almond tree grows by the ocean. The tree can grow in sandy soil and is mildly salt tolerant.
This large, fast-growing tree can reach, on average, 30-55 feet tall. It has large bright green leaves that turn red before falling off. The tree also produces many small, white flowers which develop into fruits. The flower’s scent is barely noticeable.
The tree will produce fruit and nuts within 3-5 years. Seasonally, you can harvest up to 11 pounds of nuts (shelled) from a tree.
Messy Tree – May Stain Your Stuff
It is a messy tree. Leaves, fruit, and kernels litter the ground underneath it. This can be a problem because the fruit contains high amounts of tannic acid so it will stain any paving, maybe even your car, if they are under the tree too.
Not Attractive To Wildlife
Interestingly, the tree does not attract much wildlife. Some tropical ants like it. Fruit bats eat the husk. And bees are attracted to the blossom, but apparently, have a difficult time making honey from them.
It’s all edible. (If you know the movie Rocky Balboa, you may recognize that line.)
- Seed kernel (ie, the almond).
- Fruit (ie, the exterior)
The fruit has a pleasant aroma, but is not especially tasty, although it is edible. The fruit ripens from green to yellow to red and has very little pulp, but a very large seed kernel. The husk is corky, thin with green flesh inside.
The ripe husks of the fruit can be eaten raw and are best when young and sweet. Although when the fruit is ripe can vary.
The seeds have an almond or hazelnut flavor.
Other Uses of Tree
The waterproof nature of the tree’s wood makes its lumber ideal for canoes.
The leaves and bark are sometimes put in fish tanks to increase water acidity and reduce bacterial infections amongst the tank’s inhabitants.
Medicinally, the tree has had a myriad of uses in folk medicine for everything from sickle cell disorders, leprosy, nausea, diarrhea, and as a contraceptive.
However, there is research that suggests it might be useful in treating high blood pressure. Also, leaf extracts have some anti-diabetic and antioxidant properties.
There is much more fruit in Panama than the 13 we are covering in our “Fruit In Our Yard” video series. But only those 13 fruits grow in our yard.
The following Panama fruit do not grow in our yard (although most of them do grow in our neighborhood): Avocados, Breadfruit, Cacao, Grapefruit, Guanábana, Noni, Mangosteens, Momo chinos, Tamarindo, and more.
Up Next: Bananas. Check out the banana video here.
Transcription of Almond video
Betsy: Welcome to the first of our series: Fruit in Our Yard.
We’re doing it alphabetically.
We’re starting with almonds going through coconuts, lemons, nance, papayas, pineapple, and ending at plantains, and lots and between.
Right today, we’re starting with Almonds.
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Skylar: Okay. So this may be cheating a little. It’s a little out of our yard.
Betsy: It’s across the street.
Skylar: It’s across the street, but I think it’s very interesting. This is an almond tree.
Blaise: It looks basically like a cashew tree, actually.
Skylar: I didn’t know where almonds grew before I came to Panama. But given that I was five, it wasn’t that unimpressive.
But yeah. So actually, here is one right now.
Blaise: They grow in little pods.
Blaise & Skylar: They look like this. This is a very under-ripe one.
The ripe ones are fuller and more spotted. Ripe ones are larger, yellower, more even, and they have some brown speckling. And as can see here, this has none. Maybe this one, this has one speckle, but it would be all over it and all these ridges would fill out.
But inside here. It’s a little meaty on the inside. Then you have the seed, which is the almond.
Betsy: You should know that with the tropical Almond, both the seed pod and the seed are edible, without any cooking. Although it’s quite the endeavor, especially to get the seed out, as the girls mention
Skylar & Blaise: It’s pretty straightforward. Although, it might be a little more effort than it’s worth than buying a bag. You should just buy ’em. Buy em.
The modern world is wonderful. Don’t need these [raw seed pods] anymore. It’s just a great tree though.
As you see…
Betsy: Join us next time as we explore the bananas in our yard.
Skylar & Blaise: Thanks for watching. Be sure to like comment, share, subscribe, and click the bell icon if you want notifications.
Betsy: For more information about tropical almonds and life in Panama. Click the link below. See you there.