Tropical Taste of Hawaii: The Peculiar Peanut Butter Fruit

Updated on January 27, 2018
punacoast profile image

The author lives in a quiet seaside community in lower Puna on the Big Island. He's an avid gardener, traveler and photographer.

Peanut butter fruits.
Peanut butter fruits. | Source

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!

Look like cherry tomatoes!
Look like cherry tomatoes! | Source
Pulp and seeds.
Pulp and seeds. | Source

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fruiting season.Ripening fruits.Ripe fruits (red) ready for eating.
Fruiting season.
Fruiting season. | Source
Ripening fruits.
Ripening fruits. | Source
Ripe fruits (red) ready for eating.
Ripe fruits (red) ready for eating. | Source

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.

Young seedling sprouts from seed.
Young seedling sprouts from seed. | Source
Peanut butter fruit flowers.
Peanut butter fruit flowers. | Source

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.

Unripe green and orange fruits.
Unripe green and orange fruits. | Source

Have you ever tasted peanut butter fruit?

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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.

Such a unique and unusual fruit!
Such a unique and unusual fruit! | Source

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

Comments

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    • profile image

      ginah sta barbara 

      5 weeks ago

      I love this fruit i have one in my rooftop garden. The birds like to eat the flowers fortunately when rainy season comes they left some flowers to bloom so i was able to taste these fruit.

    • profile image

      Aaron 

      7 weeks ago

      The fruit looks delicious. I bought 1 last year, but it died. Looking forward to see if I can successful grow another one her in San Diego. Thanks for sharing this post.

    • punacoast profile imageAUTHOR

      Viet Doan 

      2 months ago from Big Island, Hawaii

      Thanks Rajapaksa for your question. Peanut butter fruit does not relate to apricot at all! The fruit looks somewhat like an apricot but is much smaller and belongs to a completely different genus. I'm sure you also have many other fruits in your garden in Srilanka that we grow here in Hawaii. Aloha!

    • profile image

      Rajapaksa Piyatilake 

      2 months ago

      I have this fruit in my garden ,Srilanka. Is it another verity of Apricot? Pl. explain.

    • profile image

      Sherry 

      6 months ago

      I would like to get your permission to use this article on our community garden blog site. We have a peanut butter bush and your article is more informative than I could ever write about the bush. Thanks so much!

    • punacoast profile imageAUTHOR

      Viet Doan 

      9 months ago from Big Island, Hawaii

      Aloha Linda, I wish you could taste this fruit! May be one day in the near future, we can touch a picture of fruit, flower, or food on our computer screen and instantly get a taste or smell of it! Would that be fantastic?

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      9 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This fruit sounds unique and delicious. I've never heard of it before. I'd love to taste it!

    • punacoast profile imageAUTHOR

      Viet Doan 

      9 months ago from Big Island, Hawaii

      Aloha K S Lane! I haven't tried to spread this fruit on toast! What a good idea! Next time when it's in season, I will try that and post an update.

    • punacoast profile imageAUTHOR

      Viet Doan 

      9 months ago from Big Island, Hawaii

      Thank you Kristen for your comment. So glad you find the article (and the fruit!) interesting.

    • K S Lane profile image

      K S Lane 

      9 months ago from Melbourne, Australia

      This is awesome; I wish they'd grow in my backyard! Great Hub, but unfortunately you forgot to answer the most important question- can you spread this fruit on toast?!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      9 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Viet, I never heard of a peanut butter fruit. I sure looks interesting and tasty enough to eat. Thanks for sharing.

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