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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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