Once again an anonymous reader has successfully named our mystery plant, the cashew/cashew apple.
This installment of name this plant was actually very interesting for me. Our anonymous reader is Samoan and gave the Samoan word for this plant as nonu. I had never heard this word before, but I was familiar with noni (which, unfortunately, cannot be a name this plant now that I have already named it).
I looked up nonu in my trusty Samoan dictionary and learned it is a noun meaning "shurb or small tree" or "the Malay apple." So I looked up the Malay apple. According to the Purdue horticulture web site, the malay apple has many names, including: "cashew, or French cashew (Guyana) or Otaheite cashew (India) because of its resemblance to the cashew apple, the pseudofruit or swollen fruit-stalk of the cashew nut."
Now the plot thickens. While Googling the Malay apple, I came across this photograph:
This, apparently, is the Malay apple rose.
I had recently stumbled across some very similar looking "flowers" while at the To Sua Trench and had taken a picture of them:
There were none on the tree, only on the ground.
I was so intrigued by these flowers, because several years ago I had taken a picture of a similar strange flower in Winter Park, Florida:
I wonder if they are related. The tree the ones from the To Sua Trench were growing on looks nothing like the tree in Florida.
Anyway, you guys are probably wondering why I have veered so far off course from our original name this plant. Sara, you say, can we get back to how this thing that looks like a yellow pepper is a cashew. Aren't cashews nuts?
And you would be right. The part that grabs most of your attention, the yellow pepper-like thing is a pseudo-fruit. That's right a false fruit.
According to the Purdue Horticulture web site, "This pseudofruit (or "false fruit") is a by-product of the cashew nut industry...The true fruit of the tree is the cashew nut...An interesting feature of the cashew is that the nut develops first and when it is full-grown but not yet ripe, its peduncle...fills out, becomes plump, fleshy, pear-shaped...with waxy, yellow, red, or red-and-yellow skin and spongy, fibrous, very juicy, astringent, acid to subacid, yellow pulp. Thus is formed the conspicuous, so-called cashew apple."
These cashews were growing in the garden behind Giordano's. There were two different colors, yellow and red. We expressed such interest in the strange plant that the owner insisted that we try them, cutting down two of them herself and providing a knife and plate.
Thanks to one Peace Corps Volunteers unfortunate experience, I know that you cannot eat raw cashew nuts. I didn't want to risk discovering this extended the pseudo-fruit as well, so I did not try them. However, Hanna and John did. Apparently it is very fibrous and slightly sweet.