Seeds for a bred Sweeter less acidic Kei apple

by William
(Nairobi )

Greetings Greenidiom,

I'm a small farmer in kenya. I'm looking to plant a Green fence around a 6 acre plot of land and, I'd wish to make it of kei apples that can bear fruits and be harvested.

I'd very much like to know where I can source seeds of an 'improved' breed of kei apple that has fruits that are less acidic and has a higher sugar content.

Kindly advice me.


WhatsApp +254732457111.

Nairobi- Kenya.

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Nov 20, 2023
global Kei
by: caroline

This article shows the phone numbers of 6 restaurants in California which serve Kei apple. 5 in San Diego. I don't know if they have worked on the plant but the article mentions that it varies from extremely acidic to sweet-tart. There are also some recipes. Correction of my previous statement that Carissa is more 'global'. Kei apples have been grown around the world for almost a century. Someone must have sweeter varieties but google did not suffice.

Nov 20, 2023
Sweeter than Kei ?
by: Caroline

Dear William

Thank you for your interesting question. I do not personally know that much work has been done with the fruit. I will do some research and come back to this space.

Our other famous wild berry Carissa macrocarpa is cultivated globally. It is just tart enough to enjoy with ice-cream (better than strawberries by far) or made into any number of other products. It glazes very well, as its a pectin bomb, also makes gorgeous fruity bright pink vinegar.

I buy plants as well as grow from seed and I can see the genetic diversity of Kei is HUGE and untapped, as I've produced saplings and trees with completely different morphology. Three different kinds for sure. They have tiny berries or large ones, are deciduous or evergreen, and perhaps sweetness also lies on a continuum though thus far they all seem very acidic.

The Kei varieties seem to cross fertilize though as I tried grafting a male branch from a thick glossy leaved variety onto my all female trees, and since then I've had fruit.

I would love it if you decided to breed sweeter Kei apples and I would support you in my writing. It would be a lifetime project as they take years to fruit.

Personally I love the sourness and what it represents in terms of anti-oxidant power, but a sweeter fruit could well be more marketable, and certainly not need 'dilution' the way Kei does in achar or chutney.

The Kei has been very good as a hedge plant crawling with bees when it flowers and creating a microclimate for other trees and plants like mulberry, Chaya mansa, onions, chard and wild asparagus. The hedged area needs less watering than open areas. We have a very hot summer sun which comes in the dry season. Its very hardy and easy to grow from seed.

If I ever come across a less sour Kei apple I will collect seed for you. They are grown as street trees here.


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