Jamaican Fruit and Vegetables

This is part of an ongoing project to illustrate some chemistry of Jamaican fruits and vegetables and as such it will always be in construction. Check back regularly and look for the last modified date at the bottom of each page.

Like most tropical countries, you would expect there to be a wide range of exotic fruits growing either under cultivation or wild in the country. A survey between 1950 and 1970 by the Botany Department at UWI, Mona estimated that there were 173 families of flowering flora that were native or fully naturalized in Jamaica and this was further subdivided into 996 genera or 2888 species altogether.

Sir Hans Sloane documented many plant species during his stay in Jamaica in the 17th century and his collection was the basis of the British Natural History Museum.

In terms of fruit and vegetables, here is a selection of what you might find in the market or served at the buffet table of your hotel:

Ja fruit

In the individual pages describing the chemistry, I have attempted to identify the important sugars, acids, volatile components, pigments, etc.
I have been reminded that ..

"The great poetry of the New World..... like its fruits, its savor is a mixture of the acid and the sweet. The apples of its second Eden have the tartness of experience. In such poetry there is a bitter memory and it is the bitterness that dries last on the tongue. It is the acidulous that supplies its energy. The golden apples of this sun are shot with acid. The taste of Neruda is citric, the Pomme de Cythere of Cesaire sets the teeth on edge, the savor of Perse is of salt fruit at the sea's edge, the sea-grape, the "fat-poke", the sea almond. For us in the archipelago the tribal memory is salted with the bitter memory of migration"

A quote from Derek Walcott, "The Muse of History", in Is Massa Day Dead? ed. Orde Coombs, Doubleday/Anchor, New York 1974. For further information on this famous West Indian (born in St Lucia), the 1992 Nobel Laureate in literature see http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/walcott.htm

The botanical names for the selection above were taken from:
"Flowering Plants of Jamaica", C.D. Adams, Robert MacLehose and Company Limited, The University Press, Glasgow, 1972.


Return to links to the chemistry of other Jamaican items, including bauxite, coffee, and spices.

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Copyright © 1995-2013 by Robert John Lancashire, all rights reserved.

Created and maintained by Prof. Robert J. Lancashire,
The Department of Chemistry, University of the West Indies,
Mona Campus, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
Created Feb 1995. Links checked and/or last modified 25th November 2013.
URL http://wwwchem.uwimona.edu.jm/lectures/fruit.html