Laurel Hanson ’23: Book VIII, Chapter XXII (Of the Tree That the Christians Call Níspero or Loquat)

Book VIII, Chapter XXII

Of the tree that the Christians call níspero or loquat, and the Indians of the province of Nicaragua call munonzapot, and its excellent fruit.

Translated by Laurel Hanson ’23

The munonzapot is a large tree, like a walnut tree, that has very beautiful and sturdy wood. The fruit is as big or bigger than a camuesa or pippin and of the same size but elongated and also round. The color of its skin is brown or tawny, and its texture a little rough, but delicate like that of an apple, as it is peeled similarly. The flesh is tawny, and it has tawny seeds that are the same size or bigger than those of a squash. The tree’s leaf is like that of a pear tree but pointed and somewhat smaller. These fruits are called loquats by Spaniards, despite not being so, because their color somewhat resembles that of the loquat. They never ripen on the tree and are picked when they are large and as hard as rocks. They ripen like the fruit of the service or sorb tree by being placed over straw or by being placed in a pitcher or a clay pot without straw, and after eight or ten days they ripen. This fruit is the best of all fruits, in my opinion, and many others say the same because it has the most beautiful flavor and taste imaginable, and I cannot think of anything that can be compared to or match it. When placed in the mouth, as soon as it touches the teeth and immediately after being split open, a scent rises to the nose and head that is unequalled by civet or musk, and this scent is not felt or smelled by anyone except he who eats the fruit. It digests in such a way that although one eats many loquats or many fruits from this tree, there is no indigestion or discomfort produced greater than if they had not been eaten at all. In that province of Nicaragua, this fruit is in the possession of the Indians who speak the Chorotega language. Finally, regarding this fruit, none of the fruit that I have seen in the Indies or elsewhere, throughout my whole life, can equal it in taste or any other quality of this fruit that I have described. And the same fruit and trees exist in the governate of Honduras, which is on the northern coast of the Mainland.

Image retrieved from Dictionnaire classique des sciences naturelles by Pierre Auguste Joseph Drapiez,  published in 1853.