Ackee Growing in the Florida Home Landscape

Ackee Growing in the Florida Home Landscape

Jonathan H. Crane, Carlos F. Balerdi, and I. Maguire2


Scientific Title: Blighia sapida

Frequent Names: ackee, akee, achee, vegetable brains

Household: Sapindaceae

Family: lychee, longan, rambutan

Origin: Indigenous to the Ivory Coast and Gold Coast of West tropical Africa.

Distribution: Bushes might also be discovered in lots of Caribbean nations (Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti, Bahamas), Central America (e.g., Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala), South America (Brazil, Venezuela, Surinam, Colombia, Ecuador), in addition to the US (Florida).

Historical past: The species was dropped at Jamaica in 1793 by Captain Bligh and is now naturalized all through that nation.

Significance: Ackee is just not grown commercially in Florida and isn’t widespread within the dwelling panorama. Ackee is grown commercially, and wild (feral) timber are harvested for recent and canned fruit in Jamaica. The fruit is a generally used ingredient in Jamaican cooking each at dwelling and in eating places and is a principal element of that nation’s nationwide dish.

CAUTION: A lot of the ackee fruit is just not edible; solely the fleshy pulp (aril) hooked up to totally developed, inedible seeds could also be eaten when fruit is picked on the proper stage of improvement and ready correctly. The fruit should solely be picked after the fruit has naturally opened (break up; generally known as awned). All components of the immature (unripe) or overripe fruit are extremely toxic (hypoglycin A and B toxin). The pink tissue and veins that connect the aril to the seed should be eliminated earlier than consuming correctly harvested fruit.

Suggestion: Though the foliage and vivid pink fruit of ackee are stunning, they’re not advisable for dwelling plantings by anybody unfamiliar with the fruit of this tree. As well as, kids and adults unfamiliar with the fruit have to be saved from consuming the fruit whether it is unintentionally picked at an improper stage of improvement. This publication is meant to coach most people on this fruit and supply cultural data to these intimately acquainted with this fruit. This publication is not an endorsement for planting ackee within the dwelling panorama.



Medium to massive tree (30–75 ft/9–23 m) with a rounded to oval formed cover.


Evergreen with alternate pinnate (compound) leaves with 6 to eight leaflets with brief petioles; leaflets are shiny inexperienced, stiff, 6 to eight inches (15–20 cm) lengthy.

Inflorescence (Flowers)

The ackee flowers from pseudoterminal shoots, in different phrases, flowering seems to be terminal, however in reality, new shoot progress continues from the realm subsequent to the lateral raceme. Bisexual and male flowers are borne collectively on easy racemes, Three to 7 inches (7.5–17.5 cm) lengthy. The white flowers have 5 sepals, 5 petals, and a nectary disc on the base from which 1 to eight stamens are hooked up and a superior ovary with Three stigmas. Bushes could bloom 1 to three instances per 12 months with the heaviest bloom throughout spring.

Fruit and Pollination

The fruit is a 3-lobed, pear-shaped capsule that has a leathery yellow to vivid pink peel. Fruit is 2.75–4.Zero inches (7–10 cm) lengthy. Typically, the fruit turns pink upon maturity. At maturity the capsule splits open longitudinally (generally known as awned) to show Three massive, black, easy, onerous, shiny seeds seated upon and partially embedded in cream-colored, fleshy, and shiny arilli (pulp) (Determine 1). The bottom of every aril is hooked up to the within of the stem-end of the fruit by a pink to orange-red membrane. Ackee is insect pollinated.

Determine 1. 

Non-mature (closed) ackee fruit and naturally break up (awned) ackee fruit on the tree.

Credit score:

Stephen Brown, UF/IFAS

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Determine 2. 

Ackee fruit break up naturally.

Credit score:

Stephen Brown, UF/IFAS

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


There are a selection of domestically acknowledged sorts of ackee: common (average pulp hardness); onerous (onerous pulp); and gentle, generally name butter ackee. Different alternatives are known as “cheese.” These have extra flesh across the seed, and the pulp has a easy texture. They’re thought of superior to the extra widespread types.

Local weather and Environmental Tolerance

Ackee timber are tailored to tropical and heat subtropical areas and could also be planted from sea degree to an altitude of about 3,000 ft (900 m). Bushes are reasonably chilly tolerant and should stand up to transient chilly temperatures all the way down to 26°F (-3.3°C). Nicely established ackee timber seem to tolerate dry soil circumstances, though fruit manufacturing could also be negatively affected. Ackee timber are usually not flood tolerant and should decline beneath flooded soil circumstances. Bushes seem to tolerate reasonably windy areas, and, if pruned usually to restrict tree dimension and open the cover to wind motion, can stand up to hurricane-force winds with out toppling.


Ackee could also be propagated by seed; nevertheless, the seeds are short-lived and ought to be planted inside a number of days after extraction from the fruit. Seeds could take 2 to three months to germinate. Seedling ackee begins to provide fruit in Three to six years. Superior varieties could also be propagated by grafting (side-veneer or cleft), budding (patch) onto seedling rootstock, or by rooting of stem cuttings dipped in rooting hormone beneath mist.

Manufacturing (Crop Yields)

Ackee fruit manufacturing knowledge is just not obtainable; nevertheless, observations recommend that well-cared-for mature timber produce 100 to 150 lb (45–68 kg) per 12 months. Within the subtropics, flowering could also be induced by cool temperatures, and within the tropics, flowering could also be induced by a pronounced dry interval. In some areas, ackee could produce 12 months spherical (Jamaica) or have a number of distinct crops per 12 months relying upon the place they’re being grown. In Florida, a significant flowering happens in the course of the spring, and the crop is harvested in the course of the summer season; there could also be a lightweight flowering in the course of the fall and fruit in the course of the winter.

In tropical areas, the foremost flower-inducing set off might be moist climate after a pronounced dry interval the place in the course of the dry interval the tree slows or stops vegetative progress, permitting the buds within the leaf axils to mature and type flowers. Subsequently, beneath pure circumstances, when the wet season begins, the tree flowers. In subtropical areas, timber most likely reply to wet-dry durations and funky temperatures (which additionally inhibit vegetative progress).


Ackee timber ought to be planted in full solar however typically ought to be at the least 25 to 30 ft (6.7–7.6 m) from adjoining timber and constructions. Bushes planted too near different timber or constructions could not develop usually or produce a lot fruit on account of shading.


Bushes seem to develop nicely in well-drained, deep, fertile soils and non-fertile soils like sands and oolitic limestone.

Planting an Ackee Tree

Correct planting is without doubt one of the most essential steps in efficiently establishing and rising a robust, productive tree. Step one is to decide on a wholesome nursery tree. Generally, nursery ackee timber are grown in 3-gallon (11-liter) containers and timber stand 2 to Four ft (0.6–0.9 liters) from the soil media. Giant timber in smaller containers ought to be prevented as a result of the basis system could also be “root sure.” This implies all of the obtainable house within the container has been full of roots to the purpose that the faucet root is rising alongside the sting of the container in a round trend. Root-bound root techniques could not develop correctly as soon as planted within the floor. Examine the tree for insect pests and ailments, and examine the trunk of the tree for wounds and constrictions. Choose a wholesome tree and water it usually in preparation for planting within the floor.

Website Choice

Typically, ackee timber ought to be planted in full solar for finest progress and fruit manufacturing. Choose part of the panorama away from different timber, buildings and constructions, and energy strains. Bear in mind, ackee timber can change into massive if not pruned to comprise their dimension. Choose the warmest space of the panorama that doesn’t flood (or stay moist) after typical summer season rains. Earlier than digging, contact your native utilities to keep away from disrupting water, cable, and/or electrical strains.

Planting in Sandy Soil

Many areas in Florida have sandy soil. Take away a 3- to 10-ft-diameter (0.9- to three.1-m) ring of grass sod. Dig a gap Three to Four instances the diameter and three instances as deep because the container the ackee tree got here in. Making a big gap loosens the soil subsequent to the brand new tree, making it straightforward for the roots to broaden into the adjoining soil. It isn’t crucial to use fertilizer, topsoil, or compost to the outlet. Actually, putting topsoil or compost within the gap first after which planting on prime of it’s not fascinating. For those who want to add topsoil or compost to the native soil, combine it with the excavated soil in not more than a 50–50 ratio.

Backfill the outlet with a number of the excavated soil. Take away the tree from the container and place it within the gap in order that the highest of the soil media from the container is degree with or barely above the encircling soil degree. Fill soil in across the tree roots and tamp barely to take away air pockets. Instantly water the soil across the tree. Staking the tree with a picket or bamboo stake is elective. Nevertheless, don’t use wire or nylon rope to tie the tree to the stake as a result of both could ultimately harm the tree trunk because it grows. Use a cotton or pure fiber string that can degrade slowly.

Planting in Rockland Soil

Many areas in south Florida have a really shallow soil, and several other inches beneath the soil floor is difficult, calcareous bedrock. Take away a Three to 10 ft diameter (0.9–3.1 m) ring of grass sod. Make a gap Three to Four instances the diameter and three instances as deep because the container the ackee tree got here in. To dig a gap, use a choose and digging bar to interrupt up the rock, or contract with an organization that has auguring gear or a backhoe. Plant the tree as described for sandy soils.

Planting on a Mound

Many areas in Florida are inside 7 ft (2.1 m) or so of the water desk and expertise occasional flooding after heavy rains. To enhance plant survival, think about planting fruit timber on a 2 to three ft excessive by Four to 10 ft diameter (0.6–0.9 m by 1.2–3.1 m) mound of native soil. After the mound is made, dig a gap Three to Four instances the diameter and three instances as deep because the container the tree got here in. In areas the place the bedrock almost involves the floor (rockland soil), comply with the suggestions for the earlier part. In areas with sandy soil, comply with the suggestions from the part on planting in sandy soil.

Care of Ackee Bushes within the Dwelling Panorama

A calendar outlining the month-to-month cultural practices for ackee is proven in Desk 1.


In Florida, younger timber ought to be fertilized each 1 to 2 months in the course of the first 12 months, starting with 1/Four lb (114 g) of fertilizer and rising to 1 lb (454 g) per tree (Desk 2). Thereafter, Three or Four purposes per 12 months in quantities proportionate to the rising dimension of the tree are adequate, however don’t exceed 20 lb per tree per 12 months.

Fertilizer mixtures containing 6% to 10% nitrogen, 6% to 10% obtainable phosphoric acid, 6% to 10% potash, and 4% to six% magnesium have been noticed to present passable outcomes with younger timber. For fruit-bearing ackee timber, potash ought to be elevated to 9 to 15% and obtainable phosphoric acid diminished to 2% to 4%. Examples of generally obtainable fertilizer mixes embody 6-6-6-2 [6 (N)-6 (P2O5)-6 (K2O)-2 (Mg)] and 8-3-9-2 [8 (N)-3 (P2O5)-6 (K2O)-3 (Mg)].

From spring by means of summer season, timber ought to obtain 2 to three annual dietary sprays of copper, zinc, manganese, and boron for the primary Four to five years. Ackee timber are prone to iron deficiency beneath alkaline and high-pH soil circumstances. Iron deficiency will be prevented or corrected by periodic soil purposes of iron chelates formulated for alkaline and high-soil-pH circumstances. Periodic purposes of ferrous (iron) sulfate could also be made to timber rising in low-pH soils.

Irrigation (Watering)

Newly planted ackee timber ought to be watered at planting and each different day for the primary week or so after which 1 to 2 instances every week for the primary couple of months. Throughout extended dry durations (e.g., 5 or extra days of little to no rainfall) newly planted and younger ackee timber (first Three years) ought to be nicely watered twice every week. As soon as the wet season arrives, irrigation could also be diminished or stopped.

As soon as ackee timber are Four or extra years previous, irrigation shall be helpful to plant progress and crop yields throughout extended dry durations. The particular water necessities for mature timber haven’t been decided. Nevertheless, as with different tree crops, the interval from bloom and thru fruit improvement is essential, and drought stress ought to be prevented right now with periodic watering.

Ackee Bushes and Garden Care

Ackee timber within the dwelling panorama are prone to trunk damage brought on by garden mowers and weed eaters. Preserve a grass-free space 2 to five or extra ft away from the trunk of the tree. By no means hit the tree trunk with garden mowing gear and by no means use a weed eater close to the tree trunk. Mechanical harm to the trunk of the tree weakens the tree, and, if extreme sufficient, could cause dieback or kill the tree.

Using garden sprinkler techniques on a timer could lead to over watering and trigger ackee timber to say no. It’s because an excessive amount of water too typically utilized causes root rot.


Mulching ackee timber within the dwelling panorama helps retain soil moisture, reduces weed issues subsequent to the tree trunk, and improves the soil close to the floor. Mulch across the base of the tree with a 2 to six inch (5–15 cm) layer of bark, wooden chips, or comparable mulch materials. Hold mulch Eight to 12 inches (20–30 cm) from the trunk.

Insect Pests and Illnesses

Ackee has few insect pests in Florida nowadays. If the tree turns into infested with an insect, contact your native UF/IFAS Extension agent for extra data and present management suggestions.

No main ailments of ackee have been reported in Florida at current. Contact your native UF/IFAS Extension agent for help in identification and present management suggestions if illness signs happen.


Formative pruning in the course of the first 2 years could also be fascinating to encourage lateral branching and progress. After a number of years of manufacturing, it’s fascinating to chop again the tops of the timber to 12 to 15 ft (3.6–4.6 m). Selectively eradicating a number of higher limbs again to their origins (crotches) every year will assist stop the lack of the decrease tree cover on account of shading by the higher cover. As well as, sustaining a smaller tree facilitates tree care and fruit harvest, makes it simpler to spray the tree, and tremendously reduces potential storm harm.

Pruning ought to be performed quickly after hazard of frost has handed. Extreme pruning is typically used to scale back tree peak or width of very massive timber. Pruning doesn’t injure ackee timber, however could scale back fruit manufacturing for one to a number of seasons. As soon as ackee timber change into 30 ft tall (9.1 m) or taller, excessive warning ought to be utilized in pruning the timber. Climbing timber to prune them is harmful and never advisable. Pruning of huge ackee timber ought to be performed by an expert arborist who’s licensed and insured.

Harvest, Ripening, and Storage

Ackee fruit are harvested after the fruit has break up longitudinally. Fruit picked previous to splitting or that has been break up too lengthy (i.e., over ripe) is toxic. The flesh of the ackee aril is just edible and nonpoisonous after the fruit capsule has break up naturally and the flesh is agency. Fruit that has not break up open naturally or the place the aril is gentle or discolored is extraordinarily toxic. Solely the pulp (aril) of absolutely shaped ackee ought to be consumed.

Makes use of and Dietary Worth

Contemporary ackee is usually not obtainable within the US; nevertheless, canned product is typically imported from Jamaica. The agency edible arilli could also be eaten recent or extra generally cooked as a element of conventional Jamaican delicacies (e.g., salt cod). The fruit arilli are a average supply of calcium, iron, potassium, and ascorbic acid (Desk 3). In addition they possess a small quantity of antioxidants (IC50 worth = 6.6 µg/ml).


Nameless. 2000. “A bibliography on ackee (Blighia sapida).” Worldwide Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Kingston, Jamaica. http://www. (Retrieved August, 2007)

Nameless. 2007. “Meals Reference Web site: Information and Historical past” artackee.html (Retrieved August, 2007)

Nameless. 2006. “Ackee.” Nyam Information from the Caribbean Meals and Vitamin Institute (CFNI). CFNI-Pan American Well being Group. Might Nos. 1&2: 1-2 [ISSN 0255-8203].

Baekeland, L.H. 1935. “The akee.” Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 48: 180–181.

Meals Useful resource. 2007. “Meals data” “Ackee data” from ackee.html (Retrieved August, 2007).

Kong, M. 2004. “Ackee.” Tropical fruit information. Miami, FL: The Uncommon Fruit Council Worldwide, Inc.

Martin, F.W., C.W. Campbell, and R.M. Ruberté. 1987. “Perennial edible fruits of the tropics: a listing.” USDA-ARS Agric. Handbook No. 642.

Morton, J.F. 1987. Fruits of heat climates. Miami, FL: Julia F. Morton Writer.

Popenoe, W. 1974. Guide of tropical and subtropical fruits. New York: Hafner Press.


Desk 1. 

Cultural calendar for ackee manufacturing of mature (bearing) timber within the dwelling panorama.














Dry fertilizer1


Apply 2–Three dry purposes of nitrogen-phosphate-potash-magnesium materials throughout this time.


Dietary sprays2


Apply 2–Three foliar dietary sprays containing magnesium, manganese, zinc, molybdenum, and boron; they’re best in the course of the heat a part of the 12 months.


Iron purposes3


Apply 1–2 iron purposes to the soil across the base of the tree. Iron purposes are best in the course of the heat a part of the 12 months.



Water periodically throughout extended dry durations.


Water periodically throughout extended dry durations.

Insect management

Monitor for insect issues and deal with as wanted.

Illness management

Monitor for illness issues and deal with as wanted.



Selectively prune after harvest to manage tree peak and unfold.


1 Use 6-6-6-2, 8-3-9-2, or comparable materials.

2 Foliar sprays ought to comprise zinc, manganese, boron, and molybdenum; they might additionally comprise iron. Foliar sprays are best from April to September.

3 Iron chelate soil drenches (iron plus water) will stop iron deficiency; foliar sprays are typically not efficient. Apply soil drenches from June to September.

Desk 2. 

Fertilizer suggestions for ackee in Florida.

12 months

Occasions per 12 months

Quantity/tree/ software


Complete quantity/ tree/ 12 months (lb)

Dietary sprays (instances/12 months)

Iron chelate drenches (oztree/12 months)3

















































1 Use 6-6-6-2, 8-3-9-3, or an analogous materials.

2 The dietary spray ought to comprise zinc, manganese, boron, molybdenum; they might additionally comprise iron. Foliar sprays are more practical from April to September.

3 Iron chelated soil drenches (iron plus water) will stop iron deficiency in high-pH, calcareous soils; foliar iron sprays are typically not efficient. Apply soil drenches from April by means of September.

Desk 3. 

Nutrient worth of 100 g (3.5 oz) recent ackee.1


Approximate Worth

Water content material



151 kcal


2.9–8.Eight g


18.78 g

Sat. fats

Zero g

Ldl cholesterol

Zero g


9.55 g

Complete dietary fiber

2.7–3.5 g


35–83 mg


1 mg


0.7–5.52 mg


98 mg


270 mg


240 mg

Ascorbic acid

30–65 mg


1.1–3.94 mg


0.03–0.10 mg


0.07 mg

1 Meals Reference Web site: Information and Historical past [] (accessed 8-15-07) and Nameless. 2006. “Ackee.” Nyam Information from the Caribbean Meals and Vitamin Institute (CFNI). CFNI-Pan American Well being Group. Might Nos. 1&2:1–2 [ISSN 0255-8203].

U.S. Division of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, College of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M College Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.

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