Monday February 5, 2007

Fruit and Spice Park

Fruit and Spice Park, in the Homestead Redland, is part exotic plant sanctuary, part park, and part tourist attraction. $5 admission gets you an hour or two of wandering around, tasting strange fruits, and checking out a few little exhibit type things. Here’s a little collection of old farm equipment. No information or anything; they’re just sort of sitting around.

Tasting

Funky fruit tasting (click through to see what’s what). The gourd-like thing in the middle is Black Sapote, which tastes shockingly like melted chocolate. The little glass dish towards the back contains Miracle Fruit, little berries which have no flavor, but which will make your mouth impervious to bitter flavors for about a half an hour (try one of those grape-looking things, which are super bitter, then try the Miracle Fruit, and then eat another berry, and it won’t taste bitter anymore). The lady was super-nice and let us sort of pig out on everything. Then she sliced open that big gourd thing and let us try that.

Then they set you loose to wander around the park, or you can take a “guided tour,” which is on a horrible motorized trolley thing. This is one of many weird banana-like trees that dot the park.

The rule is that you’re not allowed to pick anything, but if it’s fallen to the ground you can eat it. Here’s a big Canistel that we found. It’s got a very strange consistency, sort of like dry dough, and a flavor a little like cooked squash. It’s such a bizarre bright shade of yellowish orange that my camera freaked out and made everything else dark trying to understand it.

Squash

The spice section in the middle of the park has raised planters with all sorts of little plants and spices. Here are some baby eggplants.

Catalina and Ross. This is the park’s only real concession to tourist trapyness.

Poisonous Plant Collection

The poisonous plant collection was a little disappointing. Hey, isn’t “poisonous” the botanical word for “hallucinogenic”? Just kidding — don’t eat that. (Actually, they tell you not to eat anything in the park unless you recognize it — apparently some of the plants in the regular area poisonous too.)

Greenhouse

The best thing about the greenhouse is that when you leave, going outside feels like walking into an air conditioned building. It’s hot in there.

Strangeberries

These are the bitter berries again, which grow, unbelievably, attached directly to the branches of this tree. Never seen anything like it.

Fruit and Spice Park on google maps, and here is the official web page.

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  1. Alex    Mon Feb 5, 12:40 PM #  

    That’s not a banana-like tree, that is the banana tree. The purple thing is the flowers. The bananas were on the stalk, they have been picked off.



  2. Guv    Mon Feb 5, 02:56 PM #  

    The poisonous plants behind the sign are oleander. They are popular decorative outdoor foliage throughout Florida (i.e., medians of highways, courtyard of Lime on the beach). Highly toxic if ingested, or if the fumes from the burning plant matter are inhaled! So, no making experimental kool-aid this time….



  3. Guv    Mon Feb 5, 03:01 PM #  

    “Appears to be” oleander, I should say.



  4. alesh    Mon Feb 5, 03:19 PM #  

    thanks Guv.

    Alex~ Right, except that there were a bunch of different banana palms there, and some of them had fruit on them that was not particularly banana looking. This particular one towered way overhead, not like any banana tree I’ve ever seen.



  5. Alex    Mon Feb 5, 04:54 PM #  

    There’s a bunch of varieties of banana. But this is definitely one. Growing up there were a bunch of them in my house. If you peel off the purple “leaves” in the tip, you’ll see the small yellow flowers underneath, arranged exactly like bananas. Eventually those flowers become bananas. It’s interesting to watch them grow.



  6. harumi    Tue Feb 6, 09:52 AM #  

    I went there in December and walked with instructor and big Indian Family who knew most of all the plants. It’s nice to walk around with people who know what the plants are.
    Nasberry farm is close by and it’s nice to visit before or after and have strawberry shake.



  7. Nick    Thu Feb 8, 08:46 AM #  

    I’ve lived in South Florida for 21 years and never knew about this place. Thanks for the post.