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We love fruits!

November 24, 2011

Yesterday we had the honour of receiving 13 students and faculty members from Kansas State University, USA. As sensory analysis where their expertise we began at a fruit and vegetable market where we spent money buying pretty much all fruit species for sale, and some interesting vegetables and even red weaver ants. Back at Dokmai Garden we spread out all the products on a long teak wood table and the tasting and discussion began. What a fantastic collection and exchange of experience:

After the display we took a walk in the garden to look at the growing plants. It is a different experience from the market situation, where you can hardly tell if the fruit or vegetable comes from a tree, a vine or a herb. Some products from the market where not easy to identify instantly. One example was ‘som poi’ or Acacia concinna (Fabaceae). In the market its dried bean pods were sold in bundles. We grow a specimen at Dokmai Garden. It trails up into other trees as a prickly vine. Ketsanee and the Thai taxi driver explained this is not a vegetable, but a medicinal plant (laxative) also used to make holy water and soap:

Acacia concinna as seen in the market.

Acacia concinna as seen growing at Dokmai Garden.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

7 Comments leave one →
  1. kentiopsis permalink
    November 24, 2011 3:20 AM

    I was surprised to learn from my wife that Thai people eat the unripe seeds of Leucaena leucocephala (called haole koa in Hawaii), another member of Fabaceae, if I’m not mistaken. This plant was brought to Hawaii in the 19th century for forage and has become a despised invasive species. I came home from work one afternoon, and the haole koa growing outside the apartment building had been stripped of pods. Upstairs, my wife and a friend were putting the green seeds in the som tam. They’re good. Incidentally, haole is the Hawaiian word for “farang,” stranger or foreigner. The leaves of haole koa closely resemble the leaves of the native Hawaiian hardwood tree, the koa (Acacia koa), hence, haole koa = foreign koa. I haven’t heard of anyone eating seeds of Acaia koa.

    • November 24, 2011 7:58 AM

      Yes, my Thai family calls Leucaena leucocephala ‘gratin’. The green pods taste like garlic or a mild form of stinky bean (Parkia speciosa), i.e. quite good! It is invasive in Southeast Asia too. On the road south of Kunming in southern China you spend hours in the car looking out at that species. In Pattaya I have seen gardens totally invaded by this species, hardly anything else grows there.

      At Dokmai Garden we keep some specimens for show and as a source of pig food. The mimosin is said to make the hairs fall off, but our wild boars still look very furry. I guess if they were exclusively fed with this food they may lose hair.

  2. November 24, 2011 11:52 AM

    Did they find Garcinia xanthocymus at the market?
    In Phrae on Tuesday I collected lots of rotting fruit to grow the seed.
    Also came across a fresh fruit with its delightful sour taste. Should be great for drink or jam making.

    • November 25, 2011 8:31 AM

      Nope, no G. xanthocymus! We should be happy for a seedling 🙂

      Cheers, Eric

  3. November 24, 2011 7:29 PM

    I find Dokmai Garden to be the most advanced Orchid and Natures Cultivation and propagation Center .

  4. November 24, 2011 8:31 PM

    Obesity is the most common beauty issue for men and women all over the world. You can lose weight in a healthy manner by switching over a fruit diet. You can enjoy fruits instead of those high calorie desserts, biscuits, cakes and chocolates. You can relish fresh apples during your snack time instead of consuming a fried apple pie. Keep some fruits in your bag and munch them whenever you feel a lack of energy.
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