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 the Peanut Butter Fruit
A peanut butter fruit is about the size of a grape, and it tastes delicious when eaten fresh. Because it is highly perishable, these fruits should be eaten as soon as they are ripe.
How to Eat the Peanut Butter Fruit
- Pop the whole fruit into your mouth (no need to peel).
- Spit out the hard seeds. Each fruit usually has 1-2 seeds.
What Does the Peanut Butter Fruit Taste Like?
The dense, creamy pulp has a distinct peanut butter flavor, and it gets stronger as you eat more of them. 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!)
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 fiber and antioxidants.
Where to Find Peanut Butter Fruit
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.
How to Grow Peanut Butter Fruit
Peanut butter fruit is a prolific self-seeding plant. Fruits that have 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 they will soon turn into strings of fruits that are green. Gradually, the fruits change into bright orange and then a deeper red as they become 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 the kitchen counter for a couple of days, and then 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?
I planted a peanut butter fruit tree in my garden as a novelty item. I love the surprised look and reaction from visiting friends and family when they taste the fruit for the first time!
Note: All photos were taken in the author’s garden with an Olympus Stylus TG-630 iHS digital camera and iPhone6.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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.Helpful 16
What kind of food can I give my peanut butter plant? I got a plant from the Florida Keys last year and it’s not doing very well in my house in Pennsylvania.
The peanut butter plant is a tropical plant, it needs PLENTY of direct sunlight as well as a hot and humid condition for it to grow. You are in Pennsylvania, in the middle of a cold and dark winter season, of course, the plant is not happy! Food/fertilizer alone doesn't make any plant grow. It also needs light, water, and the right temperature. Hopefully, when warm weather arrives, your peanut butter plant will do better.Helpful 8
Are there any uses for the seed of the peanut butter fruit?
I'm not aware of any other use with the seed besides planting it to start a young peanut butter tree! The seed will sprout quickly and soon you will have a whole new plant.Helpful 5
What is the best type of pot for growing a peanut butter tree?
Depending on how big you want to grow your peanut butter tree! Bigger pot (i.e., more soil, more space for healthy root growth) will make a bigger tree. I would start with at least a 10-gallon container. The tree may not produce fruits if it gets severely rootbound in a small pot.Helpful 3
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