The ackee, also known as ankye, achee, akee, ackee apple or ayee (Blighia sapida) is a fruit of the Sapindaceae (soapberry) family, as are the lychee and the longan. It is native to tropical West Africa. The scientific name honours Captain William Bligh who took the fruit from Jamaica to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, in 1793. The English common name is derived from the West African Akan akye fufo.
Importance: Ackee is not grown commercially in Florida and is not common in the home landscape. Ackee is grown commercially, and wild (feral) trees are harvested for fresh and canned fruit in Jamaica. The fruit is a commonly used ingredient in Jamaican cooking both at home and in restaurants and is a main component of that country's national dish.
Recommendation: Although the foliage and bright red fruit of ackee are beautiful, they are not recommended for home plantings by anyone unfamiliar with the fruit of this tree. In addition, children and adults unfamiliar with the fruit must be kept from consuming the fruit if it is accidentally picked at an improper stage of development. This publication is intended to educate the general public on this fruit and provide cultural information to those intimately familiar with this fruit. This publication is not an endorsement for planting ackee in the home landscape.
Ackee trees are adapted to tropical and warm subtropical areas and may be planted from sea level to an altitude of about 3,000 feet (900 m). Trees are moderately cold tolerant and may withstand brief cold temperatures down to 26°F (-3.3°C). Well established ackee trees appear to tolerate dry soil conditions, although fruit production may be negatively affected. Ackee trees are not flood tolerant and may decline under flooded soil conditions. Trees appear to tolerate moderately windy areas, and, if pruned regularly to limit tree size and open the canopy to wind movement, can withstand hurricane-force winds without toppling.
In tropical areas, the major flower-inducing trigger is probably wet weather after a pronounced dry period where during the dry period the tree slows or stops vegetative growth, allowing the buds in the leaf axils to mature and form flowers. Subsequently, under natural conditions, when the rainy season begins, the tree flowers. In subtropical areas, trees probably respond to wet-dry periods and cool temperatures (which also inhibit vegetative growth).
In general, ackee trees should be planted in full sun for best growth and fruit production. Select a part of the landscape away from other trees, buildings and structures, and power lines. Remember, ackee trees can become large if not pruned to contain their size. Select the warmest area of the landscape that does not flood (or remain wet) after typical summer rains. Before digging, contact your local utilities to avoid disrupting water, cable, and/or electrical lines.
Backfill the hole with some of the excavated soil. Remove the tree from the container, and place it in the hole so that the top of the soil media from the container is level with or slightly above the surrounding soil level. Fill soil in around the tree roots and tamp slightly to remove air pockets. Immediately water the soil around the tree. Staking the tree with a wooden or bamboo stake is optional. However, do not use wire or nylon rope to tie the tree to the stake because either may eventually damage the tree trunk as it grows. Use a cotton or natural fiber string that will degrade slowly.
In Florida, young trees should be fertilized every 1 to 2 months during the first year, beginning with 1/4 lb (114 g) of fertilizer and increasing to 1 lb (454 g) per tree (Table 2). Thereafter, 3 or 4 applications per year in amounts proportionate to the increasing size of the tree are sufficient, but do not exceed 20 lb per tree per year.
Fertilizer mixtures containing 6% to 10% nitrogen, 6% to 10% available phosphoric acid, 6% to 10% potash, and 4% to 6% magnesium have been observed to give satisfactory results with young trees. For fruit-bearing ackee trees, potash should be increased to 9 to 15% and available phosphoric acid reduced to 2% to 4%. Examples of commonly available fertilizer mixes include 6-6-6-2 [6 (N)-6 (P2O5)-6 (K2O)-2 (Mg)] and 8-3-9-2 [8 (N)-3 (P2O5)-6 (K2O)-3 (Mg)].
From spring through summer, trees should receive 2 to 3 annual nutritional sprays of copper, zinc, manganese, and boron for the first 4 to 5 years. Ackee trees are susceptible to iron deficiency under alkaline and high-pH soil conditions. Iron deficiency can be prevented or corrected by periodic soil applications of iron chelates formulated for alkaline and high-soil-pH conditions. Periodic applications of ferrous (iron) sulfate may be made to trees growing in low-pH soils.
Newly planted ackee trees should be watered at planting and every other day for the first week or so and then 1 to 2 times a week for the first couple of months. During prolonged dry periods (e.g., 5 or more days of little to no rainfall) newly planted and young ackee trees (first 3 years) should be well watered twice a week. Once the rainy season arrives, irrigation may be reduced or stopped.
Once ackee trees are 4 or more years old, irrigation will be beneficial to plant growth and crop yields during prolonged dry periods. The specific water requirements for mature trees have not been determined. However, as with other tree crops, the period from bloom and through fruit development is important, and drought stress should be avoided at this time with periodic watering.
Ackee trees in the home landscape are susceptible to trunk injury caused by lawn mowers and weed eaters. Maintain a grass-free area 2 to 5 or more feet away from the trunk of the tree. Never hit the tree trunk with lawn mowing equipment and never use a weed eater near the tree trunk. Mechanical damage to the trunk of the tree weakens the tree, and, if severe enough, can cause dieback or kill the tree.
Ackee has few insect pests in Florida at the present time. If the tree becomes infested with an insect, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension agent for more information and current control recommendations.
Pruning should be done soon after danger of frost has passed. Severe pruning is sometimes used to reduce tree height or width of very large trees. Pruning does not injure ackee trees, but may reduce fruit production for one to several seasons. Once ackee trees become 30 ft tall (9.1 m) or taller, extreme caution should be used in pruning the trees. Climbing trees to prune them is dangerous and not recommended. Pruning of large ackee trees should be done by a professional arborist who is licensed and insured.
Akee Tree in a 3 Gallon Container. Akee is a native of Jamaica and is used in it's National Dish, Akee and Fish. It is usually cooked and used in a similiar fashion as eggs. The tree is a great value since Akee is an expensive fruit and is rarely avaialable fresh, canned Akee Fruit usually retails for $8-12 per can.
The Famous East Indian Variety grafted and grown in a 3 gallon container gets its popularity and fame from Jamaica and the West Indies. The variety is considered to be a sweet and succulent mango which will leave the juices dripping from your elbows. The fruit is of good size being between medium to large making this tree itself a wonderful shade tree for your yard.
June Plum/Golden Apple Tree in a 3 Gallon Container. Native to South-east Asia and found in Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador and parts of Central America. The dwarf ambarella is a fast growing plant that will produce fruit in less than one year, and at a height of only two feet. They are often eaten fresh, made into drinks and jellies that taste something like apple butter. They have a single sharp, rather large, spiny seed. They also fruit year round so one tree will provide more than enough fruit for a family. Can be container Grown.
Guava Tree Pink Variety in a 3 Gallon Container. Guava is enjoyed in jelly, juice, pastries and a multitude of other recipes. The fruit can be round to pear shaped, and they are typically about the size of a baseball. The pulp is smooth, sweet, and extremely aromatic. The trees are heavy producers, and will begin fruiting at just one year of age. Great addition to any garden since the tree fruits year round producing a lot of fruit. Guava's can also be mixed in drinks and smoothies for an amazing flavor.
The Carrie is a semi dwarf variety grown in a 3 gallon container. Carrie is known best for its fiberless flesh, satisfying and mouthwatering mango that will keep you craving more. The best part is that this variety requires minimal care for both the fruit and tree. They have little to no problem with fungus or disease, making this the ultimate container kept fruit tree. Carrie ripens from June to July.
Tamarind Tree in a 3 Gallon Container. The tamarind is a graceful stately tree commonly found in the south Florida landscape and growing wild along Central American roadsides. The fruit hang in clusters peapod like legumes typically six to eight inches long. The fruit is eaten fresh, in candies, and in sauces. In fact, it is one of the primary ingredients of Worcestershire, as well as numerous other jerk and barbeque sauces. Makes a great stately shade tree.
The Bombay Variety makes a great shade tree in any garden. Grown in a 3 gallon container Bombay is an Indian / Jamaican favorite and is considered very popular because of it being so easy to twist from the pit of the mango and able to spoon the flesh out.This mango has a very sweet, rich and unique taste. The fruit ripens from June to July.
Ackee is a beautiful tree in the Soapberry family (Sapindaceae) (just like Lychee and Longan), native to tropical West Africa. Its shiny evergreen leaves, fragrant white flowers, and wide, rounded crown make it a graceful addition to a sunny garden.
Ackee is an adaptable tree that grows best in full sun and well-draining, fertile soil but can tolerate a number of soil types, including sandy soil and oolitic limestone. It is drought-tolerant and can also stand hurricane-force winds. 781b155fdc