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Exquisite containers...with a twist!

07 Nov '14

The Fish Egg Tree

Posted by Lanchi Vo

The "Fish Egg" tree (ca^y tru+'ng ca') was one of a few trees I have known and loved growing up. There was a very old one in the front yard of my elementary school. I remember walking to school extra early, just to collect the little red fruits falling all around the tree. Within the thin skin, there is a gel-like pulp filled with small, free floating yellow seeds, like fish eggs, hence the common name. I still remember the sweet taste, the distinctive aroma and the interesting texture of the sticky seeds rolling off my tongue.

And, of course, I remember looking up into that beautiful umbrella canopy of the tree, loaded with dangling red balls and dearly wish I could reach up and pick them right off. That wish must be very strong; for it had internalized somehow in my sub conscience and and resurfaced as recurrent dreams. In those dreams, I reach out and pluck the Fish Egg fruit, with intense excitement and satisfaction, tinted with apprehension and guilt. That what Eve must have felt when she yanked off that Forbidden Fruit!

Eve and the Forbidden Fruit

The frustrating thing is, for one reason or another, those dreams always ended before I have the chance to taste the fruit of my labor! May be that's why this dream keeps returning. Maybe some day, I will be able to eat the fruit in my dream.

Dreams aside, I have occasionally ran into that tree while traveling to the tropics. I always feel so happy when that happens, like running into old friends on the street. I make the point of reaching/jumping up and grabbing a fruit or two. I make sure I eat them, dust and all, right on the spot, all the while, feeling a bit embarrassed and silly.

Thanks to the limitless information on the Net, I had identified this obscure species as 'Muntingia calabura'. I even obtained a small piece of it's wood for my collection. The wood is plain, but "sweet dreams are made of these".  Chances are, you have already know this tree under a different name [Calabura, Jamaican cherry, Panama berry, Singapore cherry, Sabah cherry, Bajelly tree, Strawberry tree; (Spanish) bolaina, yamanaza, cacaniqua, capulín blanco, nigua, niguito, memizo or memiso; (Indonesia) kersen, talok; (Vietnamese) (cây) Trứng cá; and (Filipino) aratilis, and sarisa]. If you ever come across one, try a fruit for me, will ya.

Slim Box from Trung Ca and Mun Ebony cap