Rambutan - red and hairy (rambutan, derived from the Malay word rambut which means hairs)
Lychee - red and NOT hairy
Longan - brownish-yellow and NOT hairy
Rambutan trees grow in countries with tropical climates. They are evergreen ie. having leaves all year round. Some trees are dioecious while other are hermaphroditic.
The durian has long been nicknamed 'the king of fruits'. The ripe fruit has a pungent, distinctive smell and comes in multiple segments. The seeds, found in shallow recesses in each segment, are covered in a soft and custard-like flesh, ranging from cream white to yellow and even red, depending on the species. Apart from the smell, the other distinctive feature is, of course, the husk, which is very prickly. Wallace, a famous naturalist, apparently said that for one to appreciate durian, he or she has to eat it three times. I used to love eating durians back when I was a kid but have since assiduously tried to avoid them (though what possessed me to eat some on Saturday is beyond me...).
The picture above shows the main stalks of banana plants which grow from rhizomes underground. In due time (if not already), the terminal inflorescence will grow out from the top of the stalk, and bear fruit. Each stalk produces one huge flower cluster and then dies. New stalks then grow from the rhizome. In summary, the growth of one main stalk is as follows:
Rhizome (produces more than one shoot but most are cut back in order to allow energy to be channelled to fruiting of the main stalk) -> new shoot (typically called a sucker) -> large leaves -> terminal inflorescence -> fruiting (bunch o' bananas) -> main stalk dies -> cycles repeats itself (main stalk forms from a new sucker of the same rhizome)
I was really confused about the whole process of propagation until I chanced upon these sites which can be accessed here and here (good diagram showing the parts of a banana plant). This other website details how the popularity of bananas spread and explains an interesting phenomenon - negative geotropism - which banana plants exhibit.
Hope you aren't suffering from banana overload (like I was). Here are a few more interesting things:
i. fibres are obtained from the stalks which can be made into material (for clothes) and other items such as bags. The pic on the right is a close-up shot of a bag made from banana fibres. It was given out by the Filippino restaurant, 7017 Flavours, on their anniversary. The staff there wear uniforms made from the fibre too.
When crushed, the leaves of this tree give off, what else, but a guava-ish smell.
Coconut palms are often seen growing by the coast for they are dispersed by water. The fruit itself has a hollow cavity that is filled with a liquid commonly called coconut water. The air-filled space allows the fruit to float on the surface of water.
I can't help but think of the Coconut Crabs (Birgus latro) upon the mention of Coconut Palms. These crabs have been observed to crack open coconuts whether by using their chelipeds or climbing up a tree and subsequently dropping the fruit to crack it open. Read more about their behaviour here and here.
Here we go...
Another fruit with a pungent smell is the Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus). It is the largest tree borne fruit in the world. The leaves are oblong, oval, or elliptic in form, 4 to 6 inches in length, leathery, glossy, and deep green in color. Juvenile leaves are lobed. This tree is commonly planted in and around housing estates. It is closely related to the Cempedak (Artocarpus champeden). Currently, I am not able to differentiate the two... Both hail from the family Moraceae.
Photo taken from nunukphotos.com
I'm not sure which species of nutmeg (family Myristicaceae) the ones found at Pulau Ubin belong to, but if I needed to hazard a guess, it would be Myristica fragrans, which is a commercially viable species.
The seeds are dispersed by big birds (which have bigger beaks and able to swallow larger fruits) like Imperial Pigeons and hornbills. For germination to occur, the seed has to swallowed and passed through the gut of the bird. Only then can the astringent mace (lace-like covering) around the seed be removed. With the dwindling numbers of big birds in Singapore, the nutmeg is suffering.
Nutmeg is used in cooking and baking as a flavouring. The powdered form available in supermarkets is obtained from grating the seeds. The mace is also used. Both impart a similar flavour.
Quite a few of the fruits featured are heaty, such as the Rambutan, Durian, Jackfruit and Cacao. Starfruit is cooling.
To recap, here is a list of the 10 fruits featured:
1. Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum)
2. Custard Apple (Annona squamosa)
3. Durian (Durio zibethinus)
4. Banana (Musa spp.)
5. Starfruit (Averrhoa carambola)
6. Guava (Psidium spp.)
7. Cacao (Theobroma cacao)
8. Coconut (Cocos nucifera)
9. Passion Fruit (Passiflora spp.)
10. Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)
(Additional) 11. Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)