For the Love of Mangos

Archive - September 2010

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Hawaii International Fruit Grower Conference

Sun, Sep 26, 2010 at 03:09:52 PM

There were about 200 in attendance at this meeting and Dr. Diane Ragone, the Director of Breadfruit Institute started with an informative presentation about breadfruit. She is working with chefs to develop potential value-added products. Breadfruit has a good potential as flour for human and animal consumption and perhaps for baby food. 

They are working on different projects for to alleviate world hunger using breadfruit as a food crop. They started a project in Honduras using their first in-vitro plants. They also are trying to get funded for a project in Haiti. They started a pilot program and recently sent 50 plants to plant 4 acres with breadfruit. 

The Breadfruit Institute has the largest breadfruit collection in the world with 270 trees and 120 varieties. We will visit their collection as part of the field trip tomorrow morning. 

After Diane's presentation we had a fruit panel discussion which showed me that sustainable horticulture seems to be the way Hawaiian growers want to follow. Politics have to be addressed including price of land, regulations and importation of other products to the island that make it impossible to compete. The price of oil and cost of fertilizers are making many growers think seriously about organic techniques, where these costs can be minimized. 

Eating local has been the rallying cry in Hawaii for some time and it is this movement that keeps this association strong. They think that by providing fresh products and good quality fruits they can have viable alternatives for the islands. Novel and value-added products have to be part of the business model on a small and large scale. Sustainability doesn’t happen in one day and they encourage working together to make it happen. 

After the panel discussion, the Agriculture Research Service (USDA) presented updates about guava mitigation requirements for shipping to the mainland. Irradiation and protocols are required. This severely limits the small scale growers.  

Tracie Matsumoto presented an update on lychee management including pruning and foliar fertilization to synchronize lychee flowering in different locations on the island. She presented historical observations and records of the temperature and rainfall patterns related to different stages of development of the fruit as a way of looking for strategies to improve the crops. 

Longan growing using potassium chlorate and recommendations were part of the updates as well as suitable longan cultivars for the island. ‘Biew Kiew’ and ‘Egami’ were recommended. 

Marisa Wall presented some avocado updates moving towards replacing imports with local introductions and selections. ‘Sharwil’, ‘Linda’, and ‘Local Hass’ were evaluated. Local avocados contribute just 30% of total demand in Hawaii. They are working with the cultivars presently in the islands. They want excellent quality and market appeal for the local market. 

The Germplasm Repository (USDA) at Chapman Field, Miami, moved the Florida avocado collection to Hawaii to protect it against Laurel wilt disease. They have the trees in quarantine and under observation. They will be planted in 6 months if they pass quaranine. 

They also presented a talk on a native Hawaiian berry which is good for juices and jellies as an alternative for sustainable fruit production in Hawaii. At the end of the afternoon they had updates on papaya and dragon fruit. 

In the afternoon, two local chefs and growers discussed alternatives to promoting their products in a panel discussion. Communication between the different parties is important and chefs have to know the products available to be able to prepare and promote their final product. Chefs see local greens as a good image booster for their public. Heart of palms also has had a good impact on the culinary industry. Being novel is the key. 

I closed the afternoon with my final presentation about growing and marketing specialty crops using the Florida model. Mango, jackfruit, canistel, sapodilla are the fruit with the biggest impact in our program. I generated a lot of interest in our genetic collection and business model. 

After the wrap up, a small group visited a mango orchard in Moloaa. Marta Nhitlock and her husband invited us to their farm. Moloaa Organica’a farm has 23 acres, which is pretty big in Hawaiian terms. Their best mango is ‘Rapoza’ as they feel that Hawaiians like red and large mangos. They are looking for other alternatives for the late season. They are trying other mango cultivars in their farm. ‘Golden Glow’, ‘Fairchild’, ‘Cac’, ‘Julie’, ‘Ice cream, ‘Zill’ and ‘Brooks’ are all planted as alternatives. 

They want me to see their mangos and advise them on pruning. As it was getting dark we pruned a tree as a demonstration and ran to join the rest of the group for dinner and the auction. 

The auction was very entertaining, with books, fruits, and horticulture items auctioned including some of Fairchild publications to support the association. 

Tomorrow we have to be ready for the field tour which will be the end of my trip.


Kaua'i, “The Garden Isle”

Sat, Sep 25, 2010 at 03:02:42 PM

Kaua’i is the oldest island in the Hawaiian chain and some of the areas in the Na Pali Coast remain accessible only by boat, helicopter or on foot. From the plane the scenery was magnificent, a vast sea of green. We rented a car and looked around Wailua, an old city with houses growing mango trees in their backyard. 

We arrived to the hotel to get ready for my presentation. Today is the Hawaiian Tropical Fruit Grower Conference and I am the keynote speaker. 


Farmers, horticulturists and people from the industry were present at the opening reception. I recognized some of the attendants as intrepid globe trotters such as myself in search of tropical fruit adventure. A Kahu: Kauilani Kahalekai (Hawaiian priest) opened the ceremony with an enchanting prayer. She came to bless our meeting asking Hawaiian Gods to help farmers to find innovative ways to grow plants and interact with them. After her prayer we had a welcome from the Mayor of the island and Richard Johnson, the president of the association. I was scheduled to speak on my favorite subject, "For the Love of Mangos" - sharing my experiences with the much appreciated tropical fruit. 

My talk was well received and afterwards I received some of the local mangos—‘Rapozas’, ‘Nam Doc Mai’ and ‘Keitt’. ‘Keitt’ from this part of the island has color and grows so differently that they actually look like a different cultivar. It probably has to do with the minerals in the rocky soils and the strong influence of the oceanic climate.


The Cacao Farm and Waimea

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 02:54:25 PM

When I travel, I use my expeditions to learn what is happening with tropical fruits all over the word. Cacao has long been an interest to me. Fairchild’s International Chocolate Festival is gaining more popularity each year, and the Fruit Program is becoming more involved in this event. We visited The Hawaiian Chocolate Company in Kalilua Kona to learn more about cacao. They offer tours every day and they are part of the program for cruise ships when they make port in the island. 

Cacao, which is native to South America, was first planted in Hawaii by German physician William Hillebrand in 1850, according to state records. Though long studied as a plantation crop, the big challenge has been making money from the plant, which is well suited to Hawaii's climate but can be tricky to grow and requires expertise in processing into chocolate. 

The Hawaiian Chocolate Company tour started with a chocolate tasting and a visit to their small planting. Farms in Hawaii are no more than 15 acres. They have 350 trees that are approximately 6 years old. They are ‘Criollo’ types from seed. The owner explained that they are an old fashion factory and probably the smallest in the world. They produce the chocolate from the tree straight to the store. There are just 5 people running the company. 

The cacao pods are harvested and placed in wood boxes, then the seeds are removed to begin the fermentation process. They don’t have enough trees to supply their factory, so they have 13 more growers in the island that supply them beans. 

The factory is small and the entire process takes just one month. They were quick to point out that they are having fun and enjoy their work. Despite Hawaii being the only place in the United States with commercial cacao production, there are only a handful of cacao farmers with a combined 50 acres of trees. The largest grower, Dole Food Co., has about 13,000 trees on 20 acres in Waialua on O'ahu's North Shore. There are fewer than 30 farmers growing cacao in the state of Hawaii, and perhaps there is closer to 100 acres of cacao planted. 

Hawaii is far from attaining prominence as an origin of specialty chocolate the way Napa Valley is known for wine, but agriculture researchers are trying to give the fledgling local cacao industry a boost toward that lofty goal.  

There have been a couple of attempts to establish big cacao farms with their own factories over the last couple of decades, but they have failed. The price of land is still too high to make it a profitable business.  

After visiting the cacao farm we drove north to Waimea so I could give a presentation for growers in this part of the Island. Vicky Dunaway is organizing a chapter for the Hawaiian Tropical Fruit Growers. This part of the island shows its age as lava rock covers the landscape with almost no topsoil. It is dry and looks like the surface of the moon. We passed by the Parker cattle range, one of the biggest in the United States. This is also the site of an observatory where many countries have telescopes pointed to the stars. I would love to see this, but alas it is not open to the public and access requires a better car!  

The temperature and humidity change as we arrive into Waimea. The music is different too--there was a kid playing his ukulele on his porch. As I surveyed the areas, I saw some avocados and bread fruit trees. The microclimate changed once again from the other side of the city. When we got to the talk, they had posters and fruit for the new members of the chapter. Vicky introduced me to the group and presented me with a lei as a sign of welcome. This is a tradition in the state, which made me feel really good. I presented to the growers some options to grow in the area based on our experience at Fairchild. The group was small but interesting. There were some growers, but also hobbyists and a few horticulturists in the group. After the meeting, we had to go back to Kona to prepare our early morning trip to Kaua’i.



Mangos in Punaluu

Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 01:39:44 PM

Before going to Kona, we stopped by the fruit market in Hilo. Ginger flowers and all manner of greens dominated the market. They had some of the local mangos which I was happy to find, along with fresh rambutans and mangostens. It was a nice place for breads and local jellies. We purchased some breads, fruits, green papaya salad and coffee for our trip.

We drove over the mountains along the south coast and up slopes of the island’s volcano. This lovely formation is part of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The park and the landscape are the results of hundreds of thousands of years of volcanoes and evolution and it is a moving sight indeed. Kīlauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the most massive, offer scientists insights into the birth of the Hawaiian Islands.

My traveling companion Leila suggested stopping by to see the Punaluu Beach to have breakfast. This black sand beach forms a border to the lapping waters of the Pacific - the ocean's vastness is overwhelming. We were looking for the famous Hawaiian green sea turtles and we got to see one. I love animals and breakfast with sea turtles was an experience I won’t soon forget.

Our next destination was Eke Nui Nursery located in Punaluu in the Ka'u Distrit. This is macadamia land, it is dry and also suitable for mangos. Marla Hunter was our contact and her husband Pete was waiting for us. They purchased this property in 1997 and since then they have been propagating mango trees.

They have mother plants growing on their property, some with multi-grafted varieties. They grow only mangos and farm all by themselves. Pete takes care of the mature trees and is building their house and Marla takes care of the nursery. More than 20 different cultivars, including some of the Hawaiian cultivars: ‘Ah Ping’, ‘Gouveia’, ‘Rapoza’ and ‘Mapulehu’. ‘Haden’ is still the favorite mango on the island according to Marla. She is trying to get people to discover other options. They do fruit tastings at the market, but memories are strong with ‘Haden’ in Hawaii as this is the tree that they grew up with.

They had some fruit ready for the market, including 'Mapulehu', a Hawaiian selection with stunning attributes. It comes from an Indian mango seed planted in 1929 and was introduced to the rest of Hawaii and the world at the end of the Second World War. The tree is easy to control, disease resistant and with has good eating quality.

Mangos continue to be a favorite fruit in Hawaii. Climatic factors often adversely affect mango production in Hawaii and lead to poor quality and loss of crop from anthracnose and powdery mildew. They are trying to propagate different cultivars suitable for the different microclimates on the island.

I was happy to see that they are propagating and distributing some of Fairchild’s mangos: ‘Fairchild’, ‘Mallika’, ‘Nam Doc Mai’ and ‘Manzanillo’ are growing and in demand. We shared some propagation experiences and I suggested some changes that may help them to improve their success in propagation. This was a nice stop - to visit someone on the big island dedicating their lives to mangos.

Driving to Kona we stopped by a fruit stand on the street. Jady Bonnington, the owner, had a nice stand selling sapodillas, carambolas, chocolate pudding fruit, avocados and mangos. Jady is putting a lot of effort into educating her customers. She is making her own interpretation signs to introduce her customers to new fruits.

Leila took me to Pu'uhonua o Honaunau preserve, where the royal chiefs established their most important residences. This was a place of refuge for defeated warriors in times of war. The place is dotted with coconuts and noni, used as a medicine.


Plant it Hawaii

Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 04:07:59 AM

Our first appointment of the day was to visit Bob Hamilton the owner of Plant it Hawaii located in Kurtistown a few miles from Hilo. Bob and his wife have been farming in this area since 1979. Their main crops are rambutan, longan and lychee. 

At the moment, the Hamiltons  are busy picking their rambutans. Rambutan is a colorful crop and delicious fruit. I have good memories of Guatemala and Thailand where I had the opportunity to take pictures of and to pick rambutans ready to eat. 

Bob has different varieties and shared his favorites with us. He believes pruning is an important horticultural practice to maintain his trees, and uses flowering induction to extend the season. After picking, they showed us their packing house and introduced us to some of the actual challenges of the industry. Their principal customer is Costco, which has been very supportive of the growers.

In order to ship fruit from Hawaii to the mainland, the USDA requires a treatment for fruit fly. This increases the price of the fruit and makes them less competitive in the market. Guatemala doesn’t require this treatment and they can therefore produce fruit at a lower cost. 

Plant it Hawaii also has a nursery dedicated to propagating tropical fruit and edible plants. Rambutans, lychees, longan, avocados, bananas, cacao, abiu, passion fruit, carambola, coffee, vainilla and loquats are distributed all over the islands in Hawaii and shipped to the mainland.

With our car full with rambutans, pulasans and mangosteen we visited the only irradiation plant in Hawaii: Calavo. Irradiation is one of the alternatives to treat fruit for fruit fly. Eric Weinert, the general manager of the plant welcomed us. Papayas, potatoes, lychees, longans, star fruits and rambutans are all processed in the Calavo plant. Irradiation exposes fruit to high levels of energy from radioactive isotopes. Low level treatment does not affect food nutritive value or wholesomeness, destroys insects and may extend shelf life. This treatment has been used on many products to get them into the US including mangos. India is one of the examples that use this treatment to bring mangos to our country.

We ended the day enjoing the sunset in the Halema’uma’u Volcano enjoying our rambutans where Pelei the Goddess of the Volcano is said to have dominion over the area.


The Big Island

Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 04:11:52 AM

Today we flew to the Big Island and stayed in Hilo. Hilo gets between 130 and 300 inches of rain a year depending on your elevation, and I can already feel the humidity. This is definitely not a good place to grow mangos. This island has a different character than Oahu. The mountains in Oahu raise suddenly from the ocean; but on the Big Island the volcanoes raise smoothly and you don't even feel the change of altitude.  

Hilo is a historic city, with old buildings and numerous historical renovations.  We rented a car and went to the hotel. We stayed in the Naniola Volcanoes, a nice old hotel with ocean view. 

Sugar cane was the preliminary crop here during the 20th century and Hilo was the hub for harvesting and shipping this cash crop. The use of land started changing with the eradication of sugarcane and the planting of ginger, potatoes and tropical fruits. However, there are still acres and acres of available land for planting.   

Our first visit was to the Waile Agriculture Group. They are located in the rainforest in Homonu about 14 miles north of Hilo just above Kolekole Park. Lesley Hill and her partner Mike were waiting for us while their workers were processing an order of palmitos or heart of palm. The property is about 110 acres of tropical fruits and ornamentals. Their main crop is heart of palm to supply elite local restaurants and to ship to other islands in Hawaii and the mainland. Lesley gave us a tour for their fruit collection. They have rambutan, lychee, pulasan, longan, durian, mangosteen, some citrus, start fruit, breadfruit and jackfruit. Jackfruits are use for wind breaks. Big trees provide shade for their ginger production. Close by the main house they have planted a sapodilla relative that caught my attention, with silver shiny leaves and yellow fruit with orange deep flesh. I asked her about it. She brought it from Thailand. I couldn’t resist collecting some budwood for our collection.

That night we had our first meeting with a group of growers of the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Association. I was invited by Ken Love the Executive Director of the Association to be their key speaker in Kaua next week.  The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Association is structured with chapters in each island. They proposed that I speak on the Big Island in Hilo and Waimea before the official meeting.

This is a busy time for the rambutan growers and many of them can’t attend the conference in Kawai. My talk was focused on our own experience at the Fairchild Farm, the different crops we produce and I shared some of our results in terms of promising cultivars. The meeting was at Komohana Extention Complex in Hilo, coordinated by Pete Kincaid and Lesly Hill.


Wild Mangos and Jackfruit

Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 02:37:22 AM

Today we visited Frankie Sekia's Nursery. Frankie is a long-time friend of Fairchild Garden. Frankie’s nursery has developed a reputation for unusual products and exotic fruit. Frankie and his lovely wife live in Waimanalo. His place is located in a delightful location surrounded by high vertical cliffs that appear to melt into the clouds. 

Frankie is a third-generation Hawaiian resident of pure Japanese heritage. He attended the University of Hawaii and graduated as a Business Administrator. He became passionate about tropical fruit and decided to establish his own business. 

Mark Suiso and a group of his customers were there when we arrived. He set up a fruit display of mangos, jackfruit, salak, sapodilla, abiu, chupa chupa, champedak, dragon fruit and more from his property ready for tasting. 

We started with his more recent jackfruits from Malaysia. ‘NG’S Red’ kept my attention with a bright orange flesh, no latex and a good bulb size. The flesh was crunchy with an aromatic flavor. We tried champedak then and in the end some of his mangos. Frankie shared some of his experiences on collecting in Malaysia. His nursery was busy, so his wife had to take care of the business, meanwhile Franky took us to his collection. 

His place used to be a commercial pineapple plantation. Every space is a possible location to grow something special in his place. Some of his trees are grown as part of his own collection to be used as a mother plant  for his nursery. Rambutans (Nelphelium lappaceum), durians (Durio spp), abiu (Pouteria caimito), Langsats (Lansium domesticum), mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) and some Mangifera sp. have all been collected in his travels. 

He showed us his new pineapple hybrid that he developed, and we tasted it. Next to his pineapple was the jackfruit collection. I was looking for the ‘NG’S Red’, and Frankie stopped in one of his trees to show us a hybrid jackfruit. He took his knife off and peeled it in front of us to taste. It was a wonderful fruit, no latex, soft but creamy with an exotic flavor. We collected some of his new varieties. He also has a mango collection and shared with me some of his favorite mangos: ‘Sindhu’, and ‘Arka Neelkiran’. I was interested also in collecting some of the Mangifera relatives that didn’t survive in my last expedition to Indonesia. 


The time passed quickly and it was time to return and be ready to pack. In the morning we will leave to big island to explore more about mangos in this part of Hawaii.



The Manini Mango and the Botanic Garden

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 03:19:08 PM

Ho`omaluhia Botanical Garden the “peaceful refuge” 

Strolling or driving through these lush four hundred acres in windward Oahu, I see that they are very well named  as the “peaceful refuge". It has been open since 1982 and has many of the old trees in the city. Ho’omaluhia is one of the five parks of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens. 

At Honolulu Botanical Garden I was looking for the oldest mango trees on the island. The exact date of the first introduction of mangos into Hawaii is not known. The first documented date of introduction appears to be 1824, when Captain Meek brought to Honolulu several small mango plants from Manila.  Many of this polyembrionic mangos were called Manini or common mangos and many of them still remain in some of the backyards on the different islands. We asked for records at the Botanical Garden and found that 4 trees still remained at the garden, dated to the 1900s.

I was looking for other mangifera species in their records and just one relative appeared in their books: Mangifera zeylanica. We walked the field and here they had 3 big remnant mango trees sharing room with the golden woods. We tried to find the zeylanica , but could not.  I was please to be able to see part of the history of the mango at the Botanical Garden. It is a lovely place, where locals come with their family to camp or picnic. The mountains on one side and the valley opens up with a small lake in the middle surrounded by shady mango trees. 


We stopped by Whole foods to compare mango prices, and mangos varied from $1.90 to $5.90 per pound. Mango flowering in Hawaii occurs from December to April, and it is already late for me to see mangos in their full season in September. There are still some 'White Pire', 'Keitt', and common mangos at the market.

Driving through the old neighborhoods of the city it was evident that the residents take care of their yards. It is Saturday and a day off for many. Gardening is a big part of Oahu's outdoor lifestyle, where residents enjoy a year-round growing season with dependable moisture brought by trade winds. An astonishing variety of fruits and vegetables can be grown here-due in part to the exotic food plants brought to the island by many cultures. They have limited space and use any opportunity to raise vegetables beds and tropical fruits.

Planting dwarf mango varieties would be ideal for residents in Oahu, some of which can take up much less area but produce large quantities of fruit. There is an interest in promoting this type of mango in Hawaii. Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers invited me to their conference specifically to encorage this idea. Tomorrow will be my last day in Oahu and I am looking forward to see the new mango cultivars available in Frankie's Nursery.

My day ended with a lovely dinner with my friend Catherine Werner and her dauhters. Thank you for sharing with me your memories and favorite mango dessert: mango sprinkled with macademia nuts.


Visiting the Urban Garden and Poamoho Mango Farm

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 03:12:10 PM


Today I am hoping to have my first Hawaiian mango. We are driving to meet Frank Suiso who will take us to the mango growers in Oahu. The sea breezes blow across Oahu Island making our drive quite comfortable. Some of the views remind me of Tairona Island in Colombia in the Pacific Ocean. In fact, I felt particularly at home among the coconuts lining the coast.

We have our first stop at the Urban Garden Center that has 30 acres in the middle of Pearl City. Jayme Grzebik speaks to us about the program. The Urban Garden Center is run by the University of Hawaii with the objective to educate the community including local schools and home owners to support urban agriculture.


Our tour revealed many volunteers working in different activities throughout the display. They have herbs, vegetables, ornamentals and tropical trees. They also have a fruit collection including mangos, citrus, star fruit, some sapodillas, canistel, caimito, black sapote,  a couple loquats, guava and more. 


I  recognized some of the mangos ‘White Pirie’ and ‘Nam Doc Mai’ that still had fruit hanging.

They work with Master Gardeners that provide good support for their program including answering questions on the phone. After the tour we drove to Poamoho to see the ‘Rapoza’ mangos.

The 'Rapoza' mango is a Hawaiian selection.  R. A. Hamilton and J. H. selected from it from an ‘Irwin’ seedling grown at the University of Hawaii's Poamoho Research Station in the mid-1970s. It produces large, attractive, excellent quality large red fruits weighing 25 to 35 oz. It is generally late bearing. The fruit mature over a long period from mid-July to October. It has good flavor, excellent disease resistence and good apereance.

As we drove to the north west of the island to visit Poamoho Farms, Mark explained that most of these areas used  to be sugar cane. The use of land changed  and new development started  creating small complex farms. No more than 10-acre plots are used  for farming now and the price of land is still very expensive. Labor is the other problem on the island. It is difficult to get people to the island to do the farming.  

The Pomolo Farms grow organic avocados and mangos. They supply local stores, including Whole Foods and small retailers. In mangos they have mostly 'Rapozas' (midsummer) and lucky me,  they where preparing an order of mangos when we arrived. Al and Joan Santoro, owners of the farm, cut a 'Rapoza' to offer us. He took us to the field to show his property. He has 7 different avocado cultivars to cover the season from November to March and the rest of his property is in mangos and few papayas.

We shared  some experiences about cultivars and I handed to him some of the mango budwood we brought from the Fairchild collection.

Arriving in Makaha valley a few mango orchards appeared and were dominated by ‘Haden’.  His property carries the name of Makaha Mangoes,  which is a broker company and a family business that supply mangos to Whole Foods and local restaurants. We grafted the mango budwood we brought to his property and we sampled some of his late mangos. 'White Pirie' and 'Lancetilla' were at the table.  

We discussed the potential of our Floridian cultivars for the area, including ‘Fairchild’ considered somewhat resistant to anthracnose and favored for humid areas.  ‘Haden' is still the dominant cultivar in Oahu, and dominates the backyards across the island.   

Most mangos on this island are grown in dooryards and home gardens. Although commercial production has been attempted, acreages remain small, and as a result there has been limited commercial success.


Getting Started Hawaiian Style

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 02:52:22 PM

We arrived on Oahu Island at night, rented a car and drove about 20 minutes to the east to Leila’s Werner’s sister’s homee. Leila is a native Hawaiian and a member of the Fairchild Tropical Fruit program. I was tired from the long flight, but enjoyed what little of the Hawaiian night I saw.

In the morning, Katy, Leila’s sister, made a breakfast of papaya, pineapple  and guava jelly - from her backyard. I also noticed she had many mango chutney jars on the counter. She said she has the time to process fruit and share with her mom.

After breakfast, Leila took me to China Town. There were many fish on display, from beautifully colored fish to large ocean denizens. We continued our walk towards Chinatown. There were so many countries represented, from Korea to the Philippines and Japan to Vietnam. Where to start? I was looking for fruit, too late for mangos in this time of the year but I am hoping to get the last one of season. We saw a woman selling rambutans. Then I spied some mangos, but alas, the label said Mexico. Further on, we saw more mangos. This time, local green mangos that looked like ‘Pairi’. When I tried to take a picture the lady objected, mistaking me for the heath department.

We rode up to the University of Hawaii’s Lyon Arboretum. This area was more humid. the Island has many microclimates and changes can take place from one mile to the next, from dry to humid. The arboretum has almost 200 acres surrounded by a beautiful curtain of mountains. The garden is comprised of a diversity of plants: heliconias, gingers, aroids, bromeliads, as well as native Hawaiian plants and palms.


The palm collection and the lower grounds near the Visitor Center dominate the big canopy. There was also an herb and spice garden, the Native Hawaiian Garden and the Beatrice Krauss Hawaiian Ethnobotanic Garden. Leila and I enjoyed the shade of a Malay apple, partaking in its fruit. She, like me has fond memories of this fruit from her childhood. 

We took a drive around Oahu, and I sat at the window looking closely at the passing fields. There were not many commercial orchards, but there was lots of back yard production, some with mangos. We stopped by a local nursery to get some papaya seeds and surprisingly I saw mango trees for sale. They had ‘Rapoza’; ‘Jewel’, ’Alampur Baneshan’, ‘Gouveia’ and a 'Fairchild’ mango tree. Reading the label, I discovered that they come from Plant It Hawaii, which I am visiting soon. Along with the mango trees they had avocados, citrus, sapodilla, carambolas, abius, guavas and caimito trees.

Leila showed me the house she used to live in when she was little, remembering the big ‘Haden’ tree in the backyard that her mom used to make jelly. Still at 92 years-of-age she asked her daughter to get some mangos for her, and keep some preserves to enjoy in times when they are not in season. We ended the day with a lovely home meal Hawaiian style: Laulau with taro leaves, pork and butterfish; Okinawa shorya pork, red rice and for desset Okinawa potato pie with macadamia crust!



For The Love Of Mangos - Hawaii

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 03:27:11 PM


At first bite I knew it was something special, this little mango with red and yellow highlights. The flavor was off the charts, a combination of berry and spice and the deep sweetness of the tropical sun. I learned that it was from Hawaii, selected decades ago upon the lava shores of our 50th state. And now I travel to Hawaii to learn first hand about the island and its people, the agriculture and hopefully their passion for the mango. I travel with Leila Wailani Werner, our own native Hawaiian, who will bring a local flavor and insight to my trip. 

So, aloha and thanks for your continuing support of our travels and quest to capture the Love of Mangos in lands from near and far.