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Fruits Most Americans Haven't Heard of or Tried: Garcinia mangostana

Americans tend to be stubborn and close-minded people. We know, grow, and eat citrus fruits, bananas, pineapples, apples, plums, pears, cherries, apricots, peaches, watermelons, cantaloupes, nectarines, and numerous berries, but there are many fruits that grow in the world, including in Latin America, that most Americans have never heard of or eaten. They definitely aren’t commonly available in stores. Garcinia mangostana is one example.

Garcinia mangostana is the scientific name of this fruit and it is usually called mangosteen. It originated in southeast Asia, but it is commonly grown in Colombia, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Guatemala, and even occasionally in Florida. The plant is a water-loving tree that grows up to around 130 feet tall, often on riverbanks. The fruit is harvested when it turns purple and as many as 3,000 might be harvested from each mature tree.

The white, fleshy part that is enclosed by the purple rind is what is eaten and it has a sweet flavor that is quite unlike any other fruit in taste. 

This is a fruit that is far better known in Asia, Europe, Indonesia, and Central/South America than it is in the US. In fact, it is said that Queen Victoria was quite fond of this fruit, which has occasionally led to it being called the ‘Queen of fruit’.

This fruit is only rarely available in the US, and when it is, it usually isn’t the fresh fruit that people can get, but rather the canned version. The result is that most US citizens have never seen ripe mangosteens and quite a few have never even heard of them. 

  • Have you ever seen or tasted a fresh, ripe mangosteen?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I’ve never even heard of them
    • I’ve eaten many of them

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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13 Comments

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  1. we went to a Mangostein orchard roughly 100 miles south of Bangkok (and a little west). We actually wandered, picked and peeled the fruit right from the tree.

    The white flesh is a little disconcerting at first, but the fruit is sweet.

  2. I am staying in Malaysia, a southeast Asia country, and hence I have been seeing this fruit since I was young. I didn’t know the Scientific name, and yes, we call them mangosteen. My family and many friends like to eat this fruit, but I don’t know why I don’t like it since I was young. I tried, but I just don’t like it.

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