Tropical Taste of Hawaii: The Peculiar Peanut Butter Fruit
Peanut butter fruit (botanical name Bunchosia armeniaca) is a small tropical fruit tree native to South America. It is grown in gardens and farms in Hawaii, mainly as an attractive ornamental plant.
A distant cousin of the acerola cherry, peanut butter fruit is known for an unusual characteristic: it has the taste and texture of peanut butter!
This exotic fruit is easy to grow and requires low maintenance, but it’s not widely cultivated in Hawaii yet because it doesn’t have any commercial or agricultural value. The fruits attract a variety of tropical birds like finches and cardinals, so it is a must-have garden plant for all bird lovers and birdwatchers in Hawaii!
Eating Peanut Butter Fruit
A peanut butter fruit is about the size of a grape and tastes delicious when eaten fresh.
Eat the pulp, including the skin (no need to peel), and spit out the hard seeds! Each fruit usually has 1-2 seeds. The dense, creamy pulp has the distinct peanut butter flavor, and it gets stronger as you eat more of the fruits!
Besides the unique nutty taste, it also has a hint of sweetness and a pleasant fruity smell like…jam or jelly! (Perhaps it should be called the “peanut butter and jelly” fruit!)
Because it is highly perishable, peanut butter fruits should be eaten as soon as they are ripe. You may separate the pulp from the seeds and freeze it to make smoothie, ice cream, or sherbet. Just like acerola cherry, peanut butter fruit is rich in fibers and antioxidants.
Where To Find Peanut Butter Fruit In Hawaii
Unfortunately, you will not find peanut butter fruits in grocery stores in Hawaii. If you’re lucky, you may see them for sale at some farmers markets around the islands.
In Hawaii, peanut butter fruit season is usually June-July, but some trees may produce another fruit crop as late as October.
Growing Peanut Butter Fruit
Peanut butter fruit is a prolific self-seeding plant. Fruits fallen to the ground or seeds scattered by birds will sprout little seedlings within days! Some nurseries in Hawaii sell young peanut butter fruit trees in 1-gallon pots.
It’s an easy to grow and low-maintenance plant, however it does prefer well-drained soil and a full sun location. Planted in a row, it makes an excellent “green” fence or hedge because it maintains its lush and bushy foliage year round.
It’s a fast grower! A young plant can grow into a healthy shrub within the first year of planting and start flowering.
Clusters of yellow flowers appear around May, and soon turn into strings of fruits that are green, then gradually change into bright orange, then a deeper red as they are fully ripe.
Like acerola cherry, peanut butter fruit often produces a second wave of flowers when there are still ripening fruits on the branches.
Pick the fruits when they are still orange in color and hard (birds don’t touch them yet!). Leave on kitchen counter a couple days, the fruits will become red and soft, ready for eating.
A mature tree may reach 6 feet high or taller. Occasional trimming is necessary to keep the tree at a desirable height which makes fruit picking easier.
In cooler climates, peanut butter fruit can be grown in a greenhouse or as a houseplant. However, like all tropical plants, it needs plenty of sun and warmth to thrive, and will not survive freezing temperature.
Have you ever tasted peanut butter fruit?
About This Article
The author planted a peanut butter fruit tree in his garden as a novelty item. He loves the surprising look and reaction from visiting friends and family when they taste the fruit for the first time!
All photos were taken in the author’s garden with an Olympus Stylus TG-630 iHS digital camera and iPhone6.
Questions & Answers
Can I eat the seeds of a peanut butter plant?
The seeds are not edible! Only the soft pulp around the seeds are ok to eat.
© 2018 Viet Doan