Diospyros blancoi (PROSEA Fruits)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
Introduction
List of species


Diospyros blancoi A. DC.


Protologue: Prodr. 8: 237 (1844).
Family: Ebenaceae
Chromosome number: 2n= 30

Synonyms

  • Diospyros discolor Willd. (1806), nom. illeg.,
  • Diospyros philippensis (Desr.) Guerke (1891), non D. philippinensis A. DC. (1844).

Vernacular names

  • Mabolo, velvet apple (En)
  • Pommier velours (Fr)
  • Indonesia: buah mentega, bisbul, mabolo
  • Malaysia: buah lemak, buah mentega
  • Philippines: mabolo, kamagong, tabang (Tagalog)
  • Thailand: marit. Indo-China: hông nhung.

Origin and geographic distribution

D. blancoi is indigenous to the Philippines where it is very common and widely distributed in primary and secondary forests at low and medium altitudes. It is also cultivated in backyards. It has been introduced in other tropical countries.

Uses

The fruit is usually eaten fresh when ripe. It tastes rather sweet but is quite dry. The flesh can also be diced and combined with that of other fruits in salads. The wood is smooth, durable and black and is much used in the Philippines in making handicrafts. Trees are planted to line avenues.

Production and international trade

Production statistics are not available. Filipinos are not fond of the fruit and the bulk of production is fed to animals or not even harvested. In Bogor (Indonesia), the fruits are sold in the market.

Properties

The Philippine name "mabolo" means hairy, referring to the hairy fruit. The fruit has 60-73% edible portion which contains, per 100 g: water 83.0-84.3 g, protein 2.8 g, fat 0.2 g, carbohydrates 11.8 g, fibre 1.8 g, ash 0.4-0.6 g, calcium 46 mg, phosphorus 18 mg, iron 0.6 mg, vitamin A 35 IU, thiamine 0.02 mg, riboflavin and niacin 0.03 mg, vitamin C 18 mg. The energy value averages 332 kJ/100 g.

Botany

  • A dioecious, evergreen tree, 7-15(-32) m tall, trunk 50(-80) cm diameter, crown conical.
  • Leaves alternate, oblong, 8-30 cm × 2.5-12 cm, entire, base usually rounded, apex pointed, coriaceous; upper surface dark-green, shiny, glabrous, lower surface silvery hairy; young leaves pale-green to pinkish, silky-hairy; petiole up to 1.7 cm long.
  • Male flowers in 3-7-flowered axillary cymes; pedicel short; calyx tubular but deeply 4-lobed, about 1 cm long; corolla slightly larger than calyx, tubular, 4-lobed, creamy-white; stamens 24-30, united in pairs at base; female flowers solitary, axillary, subsessile, slightly larger than male flowers, with 4-5 (8-10) staminodes.
  • Fruit a globose or depressed-globose berry, 5-12 cm × 8-10 cm, velvety, brown-reddish, capped at base with the persistent stiff calyx; skin thin, densely coated with short golden-brown hairs, emanating a strong, cheese-like odour; flesh whitish, firm, rather dry, sweet, astringent, aromatic.
  • Seeds 0-10, wedge-shaped, up to 4 cm × 2.5 cm × 1.5 cm, brown.

Seedling trees tend to grow upright, sometimes with just a single, unbranched trunk. Grafted trees, however, grow short in stature and produce more lateral branches. Seedling trees bear fruits 6-7 years after planting; grafted trees in 3-4 years. Trees vary mainly in the shape and hairiness of the leaves and shape and taste of the fruits.

In the Philippines the main flowering period is during the dry season in February-April, fruiting in June-September. Male trees must be planted near the female trees for effective pollination and fruit production.

Ecology

D. blancoi grows well in areas with a monsoon climate from sea level to 800 m elevation, and on almost any soil. It is very resistant to typhoons.

Agronomy

D. blancoi is usually propagated by seed taking up to 24 days to germinate. It can be propagated vegetatively by marcotting, budding and grafting, the latter method being commercially used in the Philippines. In cleft grafting, 1-year-old seedlings are used as a rootstock. The scions are obtained from mature, current season's growth with well developed terminal buds and cut 10-12 cm long.

Grafted young trees may be planted in the field 8-10 m apart at the onset of the rainy season. Seedling trees are planted along avenues at a spacing of 10-15 m. Once established in the field, the trees hardly receive any care. Watersprouts and interlacing branches are occasionally pruned; so are branches that touch the ground. Some insects have been reported to feed on shoots and leaves: toy beetles, leaf rollers, slug and tussock caterpillars, bagworms, and red scales. These are minor pests, however. No serious disease has been reported. The fruits are considered mature when they turn from greenish-brown to dull red. After harvest they are usually wiped with a piece of cloth to remove the hairy bloom to make them look more attractive. In 3-4 days, the fruits soften and become aromatic.

Genetic resources and breeding

Seedling trees exhibit a high degree of variability in leaf and fruit characters. Fruits vary in shape, size, flesh colour, degree of seediness and taste. A seedless, white-fleshed, sweet cultivar is being clonally propagated in the Philippines.

Prospects

D. blancoi is a very productive fruit tree. The fruit, however, lacks sweetness and is rather dry, making it less popular than many other tropical fruits. Unless cultivars that bear sweet, juicy fruits are developed, it will remain a minor crop. Its potential for processing has to be studied.

Literature

  • Adajar, C.U. & Vergara, L.A., 1972. Mabolo ( Diospyros discolor Willd., Ebenaceae). In: Anonymous (Editor): Cultural directions for Philippine agricultural crops. Vol. 1. (Fruits). Public Affairs Office Press, Bureau of Plant Industry, Manila. pp. 154-156.
  • Galang, F.G., 1955. Fruit and nut growing in the Philippines. AIA Printing Press, Rizal. pp. 254-256.
  • Morton, J.F., 1987. Fruits for warm climates. Creative Resources Systems, Winterville, N.C., USA. pp. 418-419.

Authors

R.E. Coronel