Monkey’s apple, Mimusops coriacea, grows throughout the tropics but came originally from
Madagascar, Comoros and the Seychelles in the Western Indian Ocean. It is the handsome tree encircled by the walk leading into the garden from the Visitors Center. Right now, it is dropping golf ball sized inedible fruit. The specific name means leather, and the leaves are quite leathery.
While we may admire it, the plant has managed to work its way onto the Global Compendium of Weeds. It has become naturalized on the island of Mauritius, a part of the Mascarene Islands east of Madagascar. Mauritius and Rodrigues islands were studied by a forestry team from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which found Mauritius has less than 1 percent of its native forest remaining. Totally forested until humans arrived, the island’s flora has lost 39 plant species to global extinction. Mimusops has become naturalized in coastal areas, and should be monitored carefully, according to the 2002-03 study. Other weeds found there are thick stands of guava, Brazilian pepper, pink tabebuia, travelers palm, Lantana camara, gum Arabic or prickly acacia and Sri Lankan privet. Our islands seem to be showing us the way of the future.
|Fruit of the monkey's apple tree turns yellow when ripe.|