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Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica. Its name is derived from the West African Akye Fufo. The scientific name - Blighia Sapida - is in honour of Captain William Bligh, who brought the fruit from West Africa to Kew in Jamaica in 1793. The Captain was also responsible for taking Jamaican pineapples to Hawaii and South Sea's breadfruit to Jamaica.
A handful of islands grow ackee as an ornamental tree, but only Jamaica looks at it as a tree that bears edible fruit. Ackee grows in bunches on powerful, strong-rooted trees. The trees grow all across Jamaica, particularly in the farming regions of the south central plains in Clarendon and St. Elizabeth. There are two bearing seasons: between January to March and June to August.
The fruit turns bright red on reaching maturity and splits open along the seams with continued exposure to the sun. When open it reveals three large black shiny seeds and bright yellow flesh. Traditionally it is at this time that the ackees are harvested.
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