Elizabeth Girdharry ’22: Book IX, Chapter XVIII (Of a Tree Found on the Mainland Called Guaco and Its Fruit)

Book IX, Chapter XXVIII

Of a tree found on the Mainland called guaco and its fruit.

Translated by Elizabeth Girdharry ’22

In the Chondales province, in other parts of the Mainland, and in the Southern coast and governance of Nicaragua there are large trees of a beautiful verdure that resemble walnut trees. Their leaves are like those of a walnut tree but smaller and narrower. Both the tree and its fruit are called guaco. The fruit is oblong, almost like a misshapen pear but bigger and thicker; it stays on the tree for a long time and ripens around the feast of Saint John (at the end of June), a few days before or after. The fruit, which is very tasty, is yellow and its flesh is like that of the membrillo (quince). The hull is very hard, thick, and bitter, and inside it is solid and yellow; between the hull and the fruit there is a dry, straw-like pulp, about the thickness of a finger or more, that is not eaten. This fruit is very healthy and never ripens in the tree or takes a long time to do so. In the month of June, they pick it and store it in straw, and there it ripens the way they ripen servas (fruit of the serbal or sorb tree) in Spain. The wood of these trees is not very good, but it is not bad either, though not much use is made of it for carpentry or woodwork.

Image: Print of Mikinia Guaco by Theodore Descourtilz in 1827, retrieved from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.