Mammea americana

Mammea americana

Mammee or mammee apple or mamey, mamey apple, Santo Domingo apricot, tropical apricot and South American apricot (Mammea americana L.) is an arboreal species belonging to the Clusiaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Magnoliophyta Division,
Magnoliopsida class,
Order Theales,
Clusiaceae family,
Genus Mammea,
Species M. americana.

Etymology –
The term Mammea is of Latin and therefore Spanish origin, mamey, mammee.
The specific American epithet refers to its origins in the Americas, American.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Mammea americana is a plant native to the Caribbean, where the tree is also widely cultivated in the tropics and Central America.
This species was then introduced to various regions of the Old World: West Africa, particularly Sierra Leone, Zanzibar, Southeast Asia and Hawaii. In the United States, the species is found only in Hawaii and Florida.
The habitat of this plant is limited to tropical or subtropical climates. In Central America, the species grows up to an altitude of 1,000 m. It thrives best in rich, deep and well-drained soils, but is very adaptable; it also grows on limestone in Jamaica, in the Oolithic limestone of the Bahamas and on ancient coral rocks in Barbados, as well as on coral reefs off the coast of Florida.

Description –
Mammea americana is an 18-21 m tall evergreen tree, similar in appearance to Magnolia grandiflora).
The trunk is short and reaches 1.9-2.2 m in diameter.
The erect branches of the tree form an oval head.
It has dark green, rather dense foliage, with opposite, leathery, elliptical leaves. The leaves can reach 10 cm in width and double in length.
The flower is fragrant, has four or six white petals and reaches 2.5–4.0 cm in width when fully blossomed. The flowers are carried singly or in groups of two or three, on short stems. A single flower can have pistils, stamens, or both, so the flowers can be male, female, or hermaphrodite on a tree.
The fruit is a berry, although it is often misinterpreted as a drupe. It is round or slightly irregular, with a brown or gray-brown crust 3 mm thick. In fact, the rind is made up of the exocarp and the mesocarp of the fruit, while the pulp is made up of the endocarp. The stem is thick and short. The fruit has a more or less visible floral residue at the apex.
Its diameter ranges from 10 to 20 cm. When unripe it is hard and heavy, but its pulp softens slightly when fully ripe. Under the skin there is a white, dry membrane, the taste of which is astringent and adheres to the meat. The pulp is orange or yellow, non-fibrous and can have various textures (crunchy or juicy, firm or tender). Generally the smell of the pulp is pleasant and appetizing.
Small fruits contain only one seed, while larger ones can have up to four. The seeds are brown, rough and oval and about 6 cm long. The juice of the seed leaves an indelible stain.

Cultivation –
Mammea americana is a plant that can grow to a limited extent in humid to humid tropical or sub-tropical climates. This plant grows best in the lowlands, but can be successful at altitudes of up to 1,000 meters.
It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are between 24 and 30 ° C, but can tolerate 12 – 35 ° C.
In dormant conditions the plant can survive temperatures down to around -2 ° C, but the growth of young seedlings can be severely damaged at 0 ° C.
From the pluviometric point of view, it prefers an average annual rainfall in the range of 1,200 – 1,800 mm, but tolerates 800 – 2,600 mm.
It prefers a location in full sun or light shade and is best suited to deep, rich and well-drained sandy soils, with a pH in the range of 6 – 6.5, tolerating 5.5 – 8.
Trees can produce their first harvest 6 to 10 years after planting.
Good trees can produce 300-400 fruit per year and there are also several varieties.
Propagation can be done by seed. Germination occurs from 60 to 260 days. Grafting is the preferred method of propagation.

Customs and Traditions –
Mammea americana is a widely cultivated tree, especially in courtyards, in the tropics for its edible fruits. With its glossy, dark green leaves and dense foliage, it makes a beautiful ornamental tree and therefore is often planted for shade around homes, parks and along streets.
Remember that the bitter-tasting seeds are poisonous to fish, chicks and some insects.
The fruits of this plant are edible and can be eaten both raw and cooked. The pulp is firm and dense and has an aromatic flavor similar to apricot. These deliciously flavored fruits are used as desserts and can also be transformed into jams, sauces, pies, cakes, etc.
Although edible, this fruit has received little attention around the world. The raw pulp can be served in fruit salads, or with wine, sugar or cream, especially in Jamaica. In the Bahamas the pulp is first put in salted water to remove the bitterness, before cooking it with a lot of sugar to make a kind of jam. The pulp can also be eaten stewed.
The fruit is rich in pectin and therefore good preserves are obtained, these taste remarkably similar to apricot jams.
Unripe green fruit is richer in pectin and can be added to low-pectin fruit when making jellies, jams, etc.
From the fragrant flowers a liqueur is obtained by distillation.
An alcoholic drink is fermented from the sap of the tree.
Mammea americana is also used as a medicinal plant. In folk medicine uses it is used in the treatment of scalp infections, diarrhea, digestive and eye problems.
The powdered seeds are used in the treatment of parasitic skin diseases.
An infusion of the ground seeds, minus the embryo which is considered to be convulsive, is used as an anthelmintic for adults only.
The rubbery latex from the bark has been used as an insecticide, to extract fleas and insects from the skin, and to kill ticks and other parasites of dogs and other pets.
The plant contains coumarins, in particular mamaina.
The unripe fruits, as mentioned, are rich in pectin and the bark of the trees is rich in tannin.
Various parts of the tree contain insecticidal substances, especially the seed kernel. In Puerto Rico, mama leaves are wrapped around young tomato plants to keep mole crickets and worms away. Similarly, bark gum is dissolved with fat in Jamaica and Mexico, then applied to the feet to repel fleas or fleas on animals. The same effect is also obtained from infusions of semi-ripe fruits.
In the Virgin Islands, tannin from the bark is used to tan leather. The wood of this plant is heavy and hard, but easy to work; it received, however, only limited commercial interest.
Below is the average nutritional value per 100 g:
– Energy 213 kJ (51 kcal);
– Carbohydrates 12.5 g;
– Dietary fiber 3 g;
– Fats 0.5 g;
– Protein 0.5 g.
It also contains many vitamins:
– Vitamin A equiv. 2%, 12 μg;
– Thiamine (B1) 2%, 0.02 mg;
– Riboflavin (B2) 3%, 0.04 mg;
– Niacin (B3) 3%, 0.4 mg;
– Pantothenic acid (B5) 2%, 0.103 mg;
– Vitamin B6 8%, 0.1 mg;
– Folate (B9) 4%, 14 μg;
– Vitamin C 17%, 14 mg.
Among the minerals there are:
– Calcium 1%, 11 mg;
– Iron 5%, 0.7 mg;
– Magnesium 5%, 16 mg;
– Phosphorus 2%, 11 mg;
– Potassium 1%, 47 mg;
– Sodium 1%, 15 mg;
– Zinc 1%, 0.1 mg.
Among the other uses of this plant are those agroforestry: the large lateral roots prevent soil erosion.
Also when twisted into a cone shape, the leaves are used as pots for planting tobacco seedlings and protect young plants from root-destroying insects.
The bark contains a pale yellow latex that oozes from the damaged spots. It was used as an insecticide.
The heartwood is reddish or brown-purple in color; the sapwood of a much lighter color. The consistency is medium; the grain is intertwined and irregular; the surface of this attractive wood is often dotted with small, dark, oily exudations. The wood is hard; heavy, strong, quite resistant to decay but very susceptible to termites. Air curing is moderate but very difficult and the amount of degradation is considerable. It is easy to work with; it has an attractive grain and a good polish; planing, turning, drilling and mortising are good; excellent shaping and resistance to rubbing of the screw and sanding is poor. Wood is useful in cabinet making, it is appreciated for pillars, rafters, decorative elements of houses, interior cladding, turning and poles.
Wood is also used as a fuel.

Preparation Method –
Mammea americana is a plant whose fruits are excellent edible and eaten both cooked and raw and processed to obtain jams, pies, preserves, etc.
An alcoholic drink is fermented from the sap of the tree.
From the flowers, an aromatic liqueur called Eau de Creole or Crème de Creole is distilled, which is said to act as a tonic or digestive.
From fresh or dried leaves an infusion is administered in case of intermittent fever.
In traditional Trinidad and Tobago medicine, grated seeds are mixed with rum or coconut oil to treat lice and fleas.
All parts of the plant have insecticidal properties; the infusions of the powdered seeds and the gum of the bark and peel of green fruits are used as insecticides to kill ticks, fleas and other insects.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.




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