The next time you visit Penang, here is one more food item to add to your food-hunt list of Penang char kway teow, asam laksa and Balik Pulau durians. It's a new rare species of longan cultivated at the Penang Tropical Fruit Farm. It's projected to be in the market outside of the fruit farm in three to five years time. In the meantime, you can only buy them at the fruit farm.
This rare longan may look like a longan but has the aroma of a durian (yum!, or may not go down too well for non-durian lovers though). The skin is green when unripe and turns black when ripe. At a glance, the ripe fruits even look like grapes on a tree.
According to farm owner, Mr Quah Ewe Kheng (pictured above), this rare species of longan is known as Fijian Longan (pometia pinnata).
“The seasonal longan, which tastes like rambutan with a tinge of durian, is native to the Asia-Pacific region and found mainly in the lowland subtropical and tropical areas from Sri Lanka to the Andaman Islands."
The fruit matures in three to four months after flowering and its size ranges from 1cm to 4.5cm in diameter.
According to Mr Quah, the masticated bark of the plant can be used to treat burns while the leaf and bark extracts can be used to treat a wide range of ailments such as diarrhea, dysentery, muscle and joint pains, colds and flu.
If you are interested in planting Fijian longans, head on over to the Botanic Gardens hawker stalls in Penang this Sunday. Mr Quah will have them on sale from 9am onwards. As quantity is limited, Mr Quah advised that you contact Alison to reserve your sapling(s) to avoid disappointment.
Alison can be reached at (012-4108 328).
Check out the video below.