Carly Fajardo ’23: Book VIII, Chapter XXXV (Of the Caoba or Mahogany Tree and Its Fruit)

Book VIII, Chapter XXXV

Of the caoba tree (mahogany) and its fruit.

Translated by Carly Fajardo ’23

In the province of New Castile, which commoners mistakenly call Peru (although Peru is much closer, and New Castile is where Lord Atabaliba or Atahualpa lived, that great prince from whom so many treasures have been  received, and whose lordship is currently under the governance of the Marquis Don Francisco Pizarro, who rules in the name of His Caesarean Majesty), there are certain trees called caoba, whose fruit is also known as caoba; the tree is large and thick and its wood is very hard. Its leaf is like that of the jujube that in Castile they call serval (rowan). Its fruit is two and even three spans long and as thick as a man’s wrist, or a little less. The delicacy that it has inside is a sweet and juicy paste of good flavor; at intervals it has pits that seem like green broad beans, and between pit and pit there is a good chunk of that delicacy or fruit, which is a very good dish. And these fruits look like carobs, though they are much bigger, as I said. It is a healthy fruit that the Indians of this land considered to be a very good fruit and the Christians held it in no less esteem, because in addition to its taste it is useful.

Image: Illustration of a mahogany tree by Madame Berthe Hoola van Nooten during the 1800s.