In Season: Iyeye, Hog Plum

So, a number of friends have told me about Iyeye, a particular orange fruit. Some have mistaken kumquats for it at first glance, similar as they are in colour, shape and size. 

One day at work, I had kumquats on my desk and T, my colleague came by. She tried one and was surprised it wasn’t Iyeye…because it looked like it. Anyway, fast forward a year or two and she walks up to me one morning. ‘Remember that fruit I told you about, Iyeye? I have some for you.’ It turns out she’d seen another colleague with it and asked for some for me.

My heart ♥♥♥

I tried one – mysterious. Interesting. Sweet and sour and fragrant. I like, because I like to discover new things, especially if they’re Nigerian and if I’ve heard about them and longed to ‘meet’ them.

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…The fruits are no longer popularly  offered for sale by fruit sellers in Nigeria and most people would only hear about this fruit from a Yoruba song which describes the leaves as numerous. ‘Ewe iyeye igba ni o’. The trees bear small fruits which can be numerous. The fruits have a sweet and sour taste; Yvonne Bose’s Blog

Facts

Name: Iyeye, Hog plum, Yellow Mombin, Monkey plum, Java Plum

Local names: Ebo in Ekiti (Western Nigeria), Ngulungu in Igbo (Eastern Nigeria), Isada in Hausa (Northern Nigeria)

Family: Anacardiaceae (same family as Cashews, Mangoes and Pistachios)

Genus/Latin name: Spondias mombin

Season: Rainy season, July/ August

Provenance: Native throughout Central America and the Caribbean, from southern Mexico to Brazil, the hog plum has naturalized in some parts of Africa and India though is rarely cultivated.

Uses: eaten out-of-hand or cooked: stewed with sugar. to make jams and jellies in Panama, Peru and Mexico, juiced for use in ice cream and cold drinks in Costa Rica and Brazil. In  The Amazon, it is  produce wine sold as “Vinho de Taperiba”. In Guatemala, the fruit is made into a cider-like drink. Mexicans pickle the green fruits into vinegar and eat them like olives with salt and chili; Source: African Journal of Biomedical Research 2008 (Vol. 11)

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Size: The fruit is a small yellow ovoid drupe (3 to 5 cm long) with leathery yellow skin . The thick skin peels back to reveal juicy translucent acidic pulp around a thick, matted cork-like seed. The seed reminds me of the ebelebo/ sea almond seed.

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Taste profile: of varying flavours – sweet and sour

To eat: You wash and eat the thin skin and suck on the seed.

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So there, discovering more unusual Nigerian fruits and veg.

Are you familiar with Iyeye? What do you do with it? Any stories to share?

7 Comments

  1. Miss them so much! There was an Iyeye tree down the road from our home in Ibadan in the 80s. The fruits were free for all…us kids would pick up the ripe yellow ones and eat. It’s not really cultivated or sold, at least not in Yorubaland. One of those fruits we take for granted and find usually growing wild, or planted for shade.

    This is a big pity though, cos it means you get it only if you’re lucky to visit a rural area when it’s fruiting, or find the odd tree in less urbanised areas.

    Gosh, this has made me realise how agriculturally barren Lagos is!!

  2. Oh oh I know these now. Haven’t seen them in a long time. Used to eat them as a kid in the 90s in the village. Used to call them “sherry” or something. Don’t know the local name. Loved them. Sweet. After sucking off the sweet flesh, we’ll chew on the fibrous seed. Good times.

  3. we call it ugege, it is sweet and has a shocking effect on the teeth when you eat too much of it. common during the raining season but that was quite 30 year ago

  4. These remind me of loquats…very similar. I have two loquat trees. These fruits are native to China but we have a similar climate here in north Florida and these trees grow very well here.

    I have enjoyed reading your posts. Your post reflect your mother country and it is wonderful. Your passion comes alive.

    Always,
    Velva

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