Category: What is it? How do you eat it?



The rollinia tree originated on the banks of the Amazon, and thrives today in Hawaii’s warm temperatures and nutrient-rich soil. The fruit it bears—aptly-named Rollinia deliciosa—is gaining popularity at farmers’ markets and on the gastronomy scene.

Resembling a mythical dragon egg, rollinia is sweet and tangy on the palate, with a pudding-like consistency. While the scaly exterior may look tough, the fruit is extremely delicate.

To eat, cut in half from the stem down. Spoon the soft, white flesh out around the core and discard the black seeds and skin. The creamy texture makes it an ideal addition to smoothies and packs in lots of protein. For the more ambitious, whip up a rollinia soufflé or take a cue from its native Brazil, where it is fermented for wine.

Sprouted Coconut


After maturing on the tree for 12 months, coconuts change color to grey/brown before falling from the tree. Given adequate moisture, they sprout in one to four months.

Split a sprouted coconut in half using a machete or axe and you’ll fi nd a white, spongy center, sometimes referred to as a “coconut apple” or “queen’s bread.”

The edges of this living embryo are rich in enzymes and coated with pure, unadulterated coconut oil. This oil is the rich, healthy fat that the mother tree has gifted the new seedling to give it the energy needed to put down its fi rst roots and create its fi rst few sets of leaves.

Delicious and delicate, this jungle snack is something everyone should try at least once. And since sprouted coconuts are in reality baby trees, it is a snack best eaten with utmost reverence and appreciation.

In closing there is a responsibility when eating and enjoying a sprouted coconut. You take the life of a coconut tree that could have the potential to feed a village. So when eating one sprouted coconut be sure to also plant a coconut tree.

Moringa Oleifera

Illustration by Matt Okahata

Moringa oleifera is the most widely cultivated species in the Moringa genus, which is the only genus in the family Moringaceae. English common names include: moringa, drumstick tree (from the appearance of the long, slender, triangular seed-pods), horseradish tree (from the taste of the roots, which resembles horseradish), ben oil tree, or benzoil tree (from the oil which is derived from the seeds). It is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree, native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern In-dia, and widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas where its young seedpods and leaves are used as vegeta-bles. It can also be used for water purifi cation and hand washing, and is sometimes used in herbal medicine. Many experts say that consuming the leaves raw, cooked or pre-pared as a tea has many health benefi ts.

Meli Kalima

“Meli Kalima,” the Hawaiian translation for “Honey Cream,” aptly describes the unique flavor and characteristics of this pineapple vari-ety grown at Frankie’s Nursery in Waimanalo, Oahu. “Meli” describes the fruit’s rich sweetness and “Kalima” the flesh color and its dense, creamy texture.  Grown exclusively at this one location, Meli Kalima is a hybrid with a patent pending. Sold without the crown (top) to ensure it can only be propagated by Frankie’s Nursery.

Star Fruit

Star Fruit: Averrhoa Carambola is a species of tree native to Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

This popular winter fruit is also cultivated throughout non-indigenous tropical areas. The fruit 2” to 6” in length and oval in shape has five or more distinctive ridges running down the side. The skin is thin, waxy and smooth and turns yellow when ripe. When sliced in cross sections it resembles a star, hence it’s name.

The entire fruit is edible. It can be eaten raw or juiced. It can also be dehydrated and is most often used as edible décor as in fruit salads or in a drink.

Star Fruit contains caraboxin and oxalic acid which are harmful to individuals suffering from any type of kidney disease.


Scientific name: Morinda citrifolia
Family: Rubiaceae

Native to the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, Australia and India, this evergreen tree is famous for both its foul smell and its medicinal properties. A member of the coffee family, it has historically been used to dye textiles yellow or red (purplish brown).

Noni is one of the most-used Hawaiian plant medicines and in Samoan cultures all parts of the plant are used, not just the fruit. Though medicinal benefits have yet to be fully substantiated in clinical trials, it is believed that drinking Noni juice as well as using other parts of the tree can help in the alleviation of the following ailments, to name a few: colds, flu, diabetes, anxiety, cancer, inflammation, hypertension and depression.

Because of its wide-spread popularity, Noni juice can be found in most grocery stores in Hawai‘i and the trees are everywhere. Juice is best drunk when combined with a sweet fruit to help with the smell.


Belonging to the genus Mangifera, the mango tree grows predominantly in South and Southeast Asia and other tropical regions. Originating in India, there are now over 400 varieties of mangos known.The fruit varies in size and color, coming in various shades of yellow, orange, red or green. The fruit itself is a plump oblong shape with a single flat pit that does not separate easily from the pulp.

Generally sweet in flavor, mangos can be used raw in juices, fruit salads, grilled for a smoky sweet flavor or dried, and make a tasty herbal tea infusion. The unripe mango tends to be sour and is great in chut- neys, pickles, salads and can also be eaten raw with salt, chili or soy sauce.

Mangos are a great source of fiber, as well as vitamins C and A.


Hibiscus is a genus of fl owering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. When in full bloom the hibiscus flower is large in size, containing several hundred species that are native to warm-temperate and tropical regions. The flower includes both annual and perennial plants, as well as woody shrubs and bushes.

The tea made of hibiscus fl owers is served both hot and cold and is well known for its color, tanginess and flavor. In Hawai‘i, tea can be prepared by first steeping the petals in hot water and then adding lemon or lime juice (which turns the beverage from dark brown/red to a bright red).

Dried hibiscus is edible, and is often a delicacy. You can now fi nd hibiscus fl owers dried, candied and made into a syrup. You can also find the flowers used as a decoration to food, tablescapes and worn as an adornment.


Tumeric (Curcuma longa)

This semi-wild ginger was one of 22 principal plants introduced by early Polynesian culture. It is also known by its Hawaiian name, ‘Olena.

It was grown for its spicy yellow underground stems or roots. The leaf stalks come up in the spring, the yellow and white flowers bloom, then the plant dies down until the fall and winter.

In old Hawai‘i, the pounded root was mixed with seawater in a calabash (bowl) and the solution sprinkled in places where there was a need to remove the restrictions of a kapu restriction. The juice from the crushed root was dropped in to the ear to relieve earache, or into the nostrils for sinusitis. Kapa dyes were obtained from the raw root (yellow) and cooked or steamed root (deep orange).

‘Olena has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. While it is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry, it also gives ballpark mustard its bright yellow color.
New plants grow readily from sprouting roots. Today ‘Olena is enjoying a renaissance of being added raw to smoothies and salad dressings said to relieve inflammation.


Acmella oleracea (syn. Spilanthes oleracea, S. acmella) is a species of flowering herb in the family Asteraceae. Also known as the toothache plant. Its native distribution is unknown, but it is likely derived from Brazil and widely grown in tropical climates, such as Hawaii. It is grown as an ornamental and it is used as a medicinal remedy in various parts of the world. A small, erect plant, it grows quickly and bears gold and red inflorescences.

For culinary purposes, small amounts of shredded fresh leaves are said to add a unique flavor to salads. Cooked leaves lose their strong flavor and may be used as leafy greens. Both fresh and cooked leaves are used in dishes. They are combined with chilis and garlic to add flavor and vitamins to other foods.

The flower bud has a grassy taste followed by a strong tingling or numbing sensation and often excessive salivation, with a cooling sensation in the throat. The buds are known as “buzz buttons”, “Szechuan buttons”, and “electric buttons”.