The Mauritian nature is generous. Across the island grow fruit trees that provide residents with daily vitamins. You do not even need to go to the market, just walk around a bit and open your eyes …
In Mauritius, it is common knowledge that all the fruits available at the roadside or in the fields belong to everyone. Anyone can use when he wants, without raiding the plants, which would be frowned upon. Mangoes, papayas, longans, breadfruit, bilimbis, bananas …
In Mauritius, it is not uncommon to see a mango tree by the roadside
For those who have the eye, spotting wild fruit trees in the Mauritian countryside is a breeze. It must be said that they are quite numerous and that they are almost everywhere: villages, towns, forests, fields … Most of the seeds of the species found most often, such as mangoes or papayas, are propagated through to frugivores such as birds or bats.
It is hard to say that mango or papaya are the most present on Mauritian soil, apart from human plantations. As the seeds of the papaya are very small, they are swallowed by the birds which sow them then while doing their needs. The young papaya plant is very resistant, often adapting to extreme terrain and conditions (rocks, concrete, cliffs …). In addition, almost all Mauritian gardens contain at least one papaya and one mango tree.
Wild Tropical Fruit trees
The mango tree must rely on larger animals to carry its seeds, such as the bat, the brown pig (warthog) or the monkey. However, the species is remarkably adapted to local climatic conditions. Proof of this is the astronomical amount of mangoes produced each year by “public” mango trees, which make mangoes rain down for weeks, much to the chagrin of municipal gardeners.
There are several varieties of mangoes. The least sought after are referred to in Mauritius as “mang la kord”, because of the fibrous filaments that remain stuck between the teeth after each bite. The tastiest varieties are known as “Mang Josee” or “Maison Rouge”, but there are hundreds of varieties in Mauritius with different shapes, colors and flavors.
In the forests, there are also some berries much appreciated by men and animals, like the delicious guava of China. This causes a real “gold rush” at each new season as it is appreciated by the population. It is found in height, in humid and misty areas. The jamblon is more like a forest fruit, which can be adapted to coastal and mountain conditions. Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more rare.
There are also some wild lychee plants, although most of the specimens are in private gardens or kept in orchards. You can also enjoy other varieties of guavas such as the “guavas of France”, small and very tasty, but also small wild cherry tomatoes that grow in the fields of sugar cane. Banana trees are often present along riverbanks and in wetlands. Other fruits that can be found in the wild include mason, juicy longan, coconut, jamalac and many more …
Delicious tropical fruit, the longan is perfect to cool off during the hot season. With the litchis, it is one of the two great and most popular summer fruits on the island.
Little round fruit whose Chinese name, Lung Ngaan, means “dragon’s eye”, the longan is native to Southeast Asia. It is found more particularly in Vietnam, where it has been cultivated for millennia and from where it is probably native. Longan also grows in parts of China and India, as well as in Taiwan, Malaysia or Sri Lanka …
It was introduced in Mauritius and Reunion around 1764 by the botanist and explorer Jean-François Charpentier of Cossigny de Palma. This year he launched the Domaine de Palma, an agricultural estate where he grew many plants brought from his travels. Cossigny knew very well the longan and the litchis, which he had discovered during his travels in China and Bengal between 1751 and 1753. These species were part of many imported fruit trees which populated the “gardens of acclimatization” imagined by Cossigny.
Today, longan is among the most popular fruit in Mauritius and Reunion, although its success is less than that of litchis. Both fruits are very similar and are from the same family. The translucent flesh of the longan is fresh, fragrant, sweet and full of water, making it a perfect fruit to drink in the summer.
The fruits are smaller than the litchis, and have a smooth skin of yellowish brown. It is found all around the island during the season, which lasts from January to March. The seasons of litchis and longan overlap, so that the two fruits do not really compete. Longan is usually eaten as is. You can also make juices, crystalised fruit or liqueurs. Longan honey is also known for its incomparable flavor and taste, but it is hard to find. Do not miss to taste it if you have the opportunity!
Happy Holidays in Mauritius!