Sep 2007

Vegetation Profile: Ambarella


Ambarella are deciduous or semi-evergreen trees growing to 25 m tall. The leaves are spirally arranged, pinnate, rarely bipinnate or simple. The fruit is a drupe similar to a small mango (in the related genus Mangifera), 4-10 cm long, ripening yellow or orange. About 10 species of Spondias bear edible fruits and have been domesticated for fruit production. The fruit has a single seed.

I buy ambarellas or trái cóc daily from the fruit vendor outside my office—they usually go for about 1,500 VND. The Vietnamese seem to prefer their trái cóc unripe, on a stick, and dipped in a chili and salt mixture. The appearance, taste, and texture of green trái cóc are reminiscent of green mangoes and much too sour for my taste. I prefer my trái cóc juicy and ripe. Stick optional.

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