Exotic Tropical Fruits on Stamps
By Barry Floyd
Barry Floyd offers something to tempt your taste buds, as well as your collecting habits, as he serves up a delicious sample of the types of exotic tropical fruits that can be found on stamp issues from around the world.
We are accustomed today to seeing a selection of tropical fruits for sale in our supermarkets: tasty and nutritious items such as avocado, banana, citrus, coconut, mango and pineapple (Fig 1).
With careful cultivation, transportation by sea or air, and efficient distribution to retailers following their arrival in the UK the consumer demand for these exotic products is effectively met.
A matter of taste
However, there are many other tropical fruits that are not widely viewed in England at present. Indeed, for a number of reasons, they are likely to remain largely unknown to the average shopper. A chief reason is a general ignorance concerning the palatability and health benefits of many tropical products; the fact that the same fruit can have different names in many different countries does not help matters. Were Western consumers given a chance to sample some of the local fruits depicted here and learn of their nutritional qualities, medicinal uses and even ‘superfood’ status, a desire to see them on sale here might well arise. To begin the discovery of fruits you might not want to be missing, check out those shown in the Bermuda issue (Fig 2). Sensitive matters of taste are involved.
Expatriates living in the tropics and subtropics can vouch for the attractiveness of these fruits and their appealing tastes. Having lived and worked for some years in Jamaica, Nigeria and Malaysia, the author can personally extol the merits of such items as, e.g., ackee, durian, lychee, rambutan and sapodilla.
Probably the main reason why these fruits are absent from our Western menus is one of perishability. Many are softfleshed, easily bruised and swift to spoil after ripening, although as indicated, their shipment and economic viability might be possible should sufficient demand for the delicacies arise.
Three Cuban fruits are shown in Figure 3. The 1c. stamp depicts a dark purple Camilo or Star Apple; the 2c. stamp shows a Chiromoya fruit while the 10c. stamp features a Custard Apple (Anona muricato).
Stamps from the Cayman Islands are shown in Figure 4. The 5c. stamp shows Ackee (Bligha sapida), which is native to West Africa. It found its way to the New World as a staple food for slaves but has since become a traditional food much favoured by West Indians The 25c. stamp depicts Breadfruit (Artocarpus communis). This crop was originally grown over much of South East Asia and the Pacific Islands. Its name is derived from the cooked fruit which resembles freshly-baked bread. Its potential as a cheap, high energy source of food for slaves led to a British Naval Expedition to Tahiti in 1787 led by Captain Bligh on HMS Bounty. The crew mutinied and Bligh and loyal crew members were cast adrift. Miraculously they were able to reach Portuguese Timor, 6710km to the west, and eventually returned to England.
A second and this time successful expedition was mounted by Bligh in 1791 and Breadfruit was introduced to the West Indies.
The $1 stamp shows Soursop (Annona muricata). This is the fruit of a Central American tree, now found in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Its taste is likened to a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with an underlying creamy flavour reminiscent of bananas.
In 1986 Nicaragua marked the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation with an issue showing native fruits (Fig 5). The 1cor. stamp illustrates Maranon (Anacardium occidentale); the first 3cor. stamp shows Pitahaya or a Tree Cactus; the second 3cor. features Granadilla (Passiflora ligularis), closely related to Passion Fruit. The 5cor. stamp shows another Custard Apple, a sliced-open version of that shown on the 10c. Cuban stamp in Figure 3. The 21cor. stamp depicts Melocoton (Prunus persice) while the high value 100cor. stamp illustrates Mamey (Pouteria sapota) with a creamy sweet interior.
Panama chose to feature some national fruits in a 1990 issue (Fig 6). The 20c. stamp shows tiny Nince (Byrsonima crassifolia); the 35c. stamp depicts Piba (Bactris gasipaes), while the 40c. stamp portrays a bright orange version of the Maranon fruit shown on the 1cor. Nicaraguan stamp in Figure 5.
Traditional fruits consumed locally in Guinea-Bissau appear on four stamps issued in 1992 (Fig 7). The 500p. stamp features an orange coloured Fole de Elephante (Landolfia owariensis); The 1500p. stamp shows Po de Veludo (Dialium guineesis); the 2000p. stamp illustrates pendulous Calabaceira (Adonsonia digitata) while the 3000p. stamp features Faroba (Parkia biglobosa).
Four local fruits from trees are displayed in a 1993 issue from Malawi, with outlines of the trees shown on the stamps (Fig 8). The 20t. stamp shows Mateme (Strychnos spinosa); the 75t. stamp depicts Mlamba (Adonsonia digitata), another representation of the fruit is shown in the 2000p. Guinea-Bissau stamp in Figure 7. The tree is more commonly known as a Baobab and, in Southern Africa, is popularly called the ‘Upside Down Tree’ since its roots appear to be exposed above ground while the crown is buried. The 95f. stamp shows Mpinji (Ximenia caffra) while the high value K2. stamp displays Masuku (Uapaca kirkiana).
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