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Featured plant - a special for your collection

Randia formosa - Fragrance and fresh Blackberry Jam

Randia formosa

Randia formosa

Randia formosa

Randia formosa

 

Scientific name: Randia formosa
Synonyms: Mussaenda formosa, Randia mussaenda
Family: Rubiaceae
Common name: Blackberry Jam Fruit, Raspberry Bush, Jasmin de Rosa
Origin: Central and South America

You don't have to make a preserve with this fruit - the fresh pulp tastes exactly like Blackberry Jam. Yet it's not too sweet and actually tastes even better than any preserve. When you see the shrub all covered by yellow fruit, you are anxious to pick, crack open all of them, and suck out the sweet and tasty exotic pulp... This is one of those fun rare fruits than one never gets tired of!

Randia formosa is a rare tropical to subtropical fruit, growing as a small evergreen bushy shrub, usually only 4-5 ft tall in the ground and 3-4 ft in container. It can be also trained into a miniature tree. The plant is closely related to gardenia and produces 1.5-2" star shaped, very fragrant, tubular white flowers that attract nocturnal moths. Olive-shaped yellow fruits are woody shelled, about 1" size and look like small loquats. They can be easily crushed between teeth. The fruit contains two cells with small flat seeds surrounded by sweet black soft pulp tasting like "blackberry jam", beloved of children and adults.

Besides tasty fruit, the plant has many other GREAT FEATURES.

  • Slow and compact grower. For years, it can be grown in 3-5 gal container, reaching 3-4 ft in height.
  • Branching habit and a dense pretty foliage.
  • Tolerates shade and will flower and fruit in filtered light, which is appreciated by container gardeners who grow these plants indoors or in a crowded greenhouse.
  • Flowers are gardenia-like and have pleasant sweet fragrance, although not as strong as gardenias. When in bloom, the bush is all covered with star-shaped flowers.
  • Starts fruiting in young age - 1-1.5 year from seed. 1-3 gallon container plants start blooming and fruiting when reach about 2 ft tall.
  • Heavy producer. A small 3 ft plant in 3 gal container can bear as many as 25-30 fruit at a time. Blooming/fruiting period continues for a few months, new flowers appear while the first fruit start to ripen.
  • Fall/winter bloomer. Enjoy fragrance and fruit when other plants are off-season!
  • Likes container culture. It requires acidic soil and will feel happy in a well-drained potting mix.

 

Randia formosa

Randia formosa

Randia formosa

Randia macrantha

Randia fitzalanii

Randia siamensis

Coffea arabica

Gardenia nitida

Relatives of the Randia formosa are valued fragrant plants such as:

Culture of Randia formosa

Blackberry Jam Fruit can take both sun and shade. However, in filtered light leaves look healthier and greener.

The plant is relatively cold hardy and is said to withstand as low as 26F. However, young plants are more sensitive and should be protected from chill winds and frost. During cold period, watering should be reduced, otherwise leaves may become chlorotic - Randia formosa is very sensitive to over-watering particularly during cool season.

This species is reported to be drought tolerant, however, it requires regular watering until the plant is well-established. Young plants easily droop leaves if underwatered, they may even loose all the leaves overnight if the soil gets too dry! However, the plant usually recovers very quickly and new growth comes in a few days to a week.

Randia formosaIn general, Randia formosa is easy in cultivation. The two most important requirements are - acidic soil and good drainage. If these two conditions are missing, most likely the leaves may turn chlorotic (yellow with green veins, see picture on the right) once there is a chance of a slight over-watering. This is not a fatal failure though, but effects the looks of the plant.

The best mixture for this plant is - 50:50 mix of perlite and peat moss (or coconut fiber). You may add some pine bark for a better drainage, too. Use slow-release fertilizer and apply microelements on regular basis to avoid possible chlorosis.

The Blackberry Jam Fruit is definitely a conversation piece, and tasting a "blackberry jam" from a gem of your rare fruit collection will always bring fun time for your family, friends and garden visitors.

Order Blackberry Jam Fruit Tree:

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Picture of the actual plant for sale,
plants are in 1-3 gal containers,
fruiting size,
picture taken November 2007:

Randia formosa

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Posoqueria longiflora

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Gardenia vietnamensis

 

 

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