Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert: Book VIII, Chapter XXIX (Of the fruit they call managua)

Book VIII, Chapter XXIX

Of the fruit they call managua.

Translated by Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert

A fruit called managua has recently come to my attention in this island of Hispaniola, a wild fruit not cultivated except for the natural diligence of the elements, which are no less careful and artful in producing all other wild things and plants in these Indies. This is a very small fruit, but no less wonderful for being small, because it is graceful to the eyes, like very small cermeña pears no larger than an arquebus lead ball and just as round. They are green and they grow on a branch, each branch set apart from the others and each one of them separate and free. I mean to say that the tree is the branch and the branch alone is the tree and each branch is no taller than a man’s extended arm, three or four handspans long, straight, resembling a wicker cane. These fruits are sweet and very good to the taste, and its leaves are like those of wicker or olives, but they are together or very close to each other in two rows or straight lines in each branch. And its green color is very gentle, and the leaves are somewhat smaller than those of the laurel tree, and between these leaves, where they sprout, is where there grains or fruits grow, each one by itself on a small stem, one longer than the other, four, five, or six in a row, more or less on each stem or stalk. The flavor of this fruit is better than that of moscatel grapes and very similar to them in taste.[1] There is a notable thing about this fruit which has been experienced and witnessed by many; and that is that these grains or fruit, after they ripen, fall to the ground, and those are the best and better tasting, better than those you pick from the branch by hand. And when they are about to fall off the branch, nature provides for about a handspan’s width of the grass around this tree or branch to dry completely so the fruit falls in clean and bare ground. The fruit is very prized in this island, when it can be found, because, as I have said, it has a sweet, pleasant flavor and is very delicate to the taste, very healthy, and worthy of the table of the highest prince on earth.

[1] Lám. 3, fig. 12.

Image retrieved from John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.