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Exotic Fruits and Vegetables of Oaxaca and Mexico, III

Page 3 of 5 pages, page 1, page 2, page 4 and page 5 (Chiles)

Limoncillo, see Spanish Lime


mamey zapote

Mamey (Pouteria sapota) is native to Mesoamerica and Cuba. The texture of mamey is similar to that of a cantaloupe on the outside and the texture of papaya on the inside. When mamey is ripe, it will feel like a ripe avocado, a bit soft in a few places. Mameys are sweet and taste somewhat like sweet potato and pumpkin. Mamey is eaten raw and often is made into milkshakes, smoothies or ice cream. Mamey can also be used to make marmalade and jelly. Mamey seeds are used in making tejate, a non-alcoholic drink made of maize, cacao, mamey seeds and flowers of cacao. The skin of the mamey fruit is not eaten. Click here for a larger image of mamey.

Mamón, see Spanish Lime


Mango display

Mangos (Mangifera indica L.) or mangoes in English originate from south Asia. They are a very common fruit in Mexico and come in a variety of sizes. Mangoes are the gods gift to mankind and they are my favorite fruit.

Manzanilla, see Camomile

Manzanita, see Tejocote



Maracuyá or passion fruit in English. Maracuyá can be made into a popular seasonal drink, blend the fruit of 4 or 5 maracuyá, orange juice, water and perhaps some honey for agua de maracuyá. For a larger image of maracuyá click here.


Marañón (Anacardium occidentale L.) or cashew tree produces the cashew apple or marañón in Spanish and the cashew nut or nuez de la india. It originates from the Amazon delta area of South America.

The cashew apple is either red or yellow and has a taste that reminds me of mangoes. To eat the fruit, bite off the top of the fruit and then suck out the juice. On the bottom of the fruit is the cashew nut. The nut grows inside a hard shell that contains a sticky toxic oil much like poison ivy. The nut must be roasted or steamed to allow processors to remove the shell easier. (The fumes from roasting or steaming are also toxic.) The fruit cost about a peso each or U.S. 5 cents each (Nov. 2017). For a larger image click of red marañón click here and for a larger image of yellow marañón click here.

Mexican Hawthorn, see Tejocote

Mexican truffle, see Huitlacoche

Miltomate, see Tomatillo



Mint is called menta in Spanish. There are 6,870 species of of mint and oregano of which 303 grow in Mexico.[mint1] Click here for a larger image.

Míspero, see Níspero

Moringa (Moringa oleifera) gets its own page, Moringa


Nanche display

Nanche (Byrsonima crassifolia) are called nantzincuáhuitl and nanzinxócotl in Nahuatl.[nanche1] Nanche originate from Mesoamerica. They can be eaten raw, cooked as a dessert and can be used to flavor mezcal. The above picture has a bowl of fresh yellow nanche. Nanche tastes like butterscotch, inside the fruit there is a small seed about twice the size of lime seed, its not meant to be eaten.

In the jar and on the plate above are brownish nanches curados. Nanches curados are made from nanche that has been soaked in mezcal (a type of alcohol) and panela (a slightly refined sugar) for seven months to a year. The panela causes the fruit to change color and helps reduce the sour taste caused by the alcohol.

The first image below is of a nanche tree. Click here for a larger image of a nanche tree. The second image is of nanche, the fruit. Click here for a larger image of nanche.



Níspero or míspero (Eriobotrya japonica) originates from Asia. Nísperos are about the size of grapes and taste like them too, just a bit stronger flavor. The fruit is mostly used as an ornamental decoration and is often placed on Day of the Dead alters. The seeds are not edible. For a larger image of níspero click here.


Morinda citrifolia

Noni (Morinda citrifolia) or Indian mulberry is called "noni" in both English and Spanish. Noni originates from Southeast Asia and Australasia and grows easily in southern Mexico. Its not a commonly eaten fruit and I have never seen it for sale in the market. Noni has a bitter flavor and is said to have a pungent odor when ripening, I have been near this tree more than a few times without noticing the odor. For a larger image of noni click here.


Nopal display

Nopal or prickly pear is a common cactus with over three hundred native species in North and South America. They grow easily where there is not much water and require little care. Often the pads are sliced as the ones are above and then boiled to be used in different dishes such as and egg and nopal tacos or a side dish as above. Boiled nopales taste similar to green beans and are bit slimy like okra. The pads can also be roasted or grilled. Locals believe eating nopal purifies the blood, lowers cholesterol, helps treat type 2 diabetes and lowers blood pressure.

The first image below is of a nopal with the Pacific Ocean in the background. Click here for a large image of a nopal with the Pacific Ocean in the background. The second image is of lady removing the spines off of nopal. Click here for a large image of lady removing the spines off of nopal.

The fruit of prickly pear is called tuna in Spanish. The first image below is called chiconostle; it has a disagreeable taste and is used to aid in weight lose. Click here for a large image of chiconostle. The second image is of red and green tuna. The red tuna tastes a little like raspberries. To make a smoothie, scoop out the insides of five or six tuna and put them into a blender along with water and honey, then blend. Click here for a larger image of tuna.

Nopal de Cruz

Nopal de cruz has three points and can be cooked and made into a side dish. I have seen it in the country side being used as fences. For a larger image click here.

Estrella de nopal is similiar to Nopal de Cruz but instead of having three points, it has five.

Nuez de la India, see Marañón

Oreja de León

Oreja de León

Oreja de León. This uncommon thick waxy leaf tastes like cilantro. It used when cooking beans and in soups. For a larger image click here.

Palo de Vibora

Palo de Vibora

Palo de Vibora. Used to clean kidneys. These wood chips are soaked in water for a few days. The chips are removed before drinking. It doesn't taste bad at all. For a larger image of palo de vibora click here.

Panela, see Sugarcane



Papaya (Carica papaya) is the same word in Spanish and in English. Papaya originates from Central and South America and is grown commercially along the coast of Oaxaca. When the papaya is yellowish orange, it is ready to be eaten. The skin is not edible and usually the seeds are thrown out although they too are edible. Eating the seeds (around nine) is believed to keep away parasites. For a larger image of papaya click here.

Passion fruit, see Maracuyá


peach criollo

Peach (Prunus persica) or durazno in Spanish originate from Asia. There are hundreds of types of peaches including this small sized peach which grows in Oaxaca, locally known as durazno criollo.



Pear (Pyrus L.) or pera in Spanish originate from the Old World. There are now over 3000 varieties. The first image is of a common pear that is imported from Chile or Argentina. Pears used to be a rare and costly treat and as such were and still are wrapped in a colorful tissue paper to help protect the fruit from bruising.

The first image below is of a small pear known locally as pera paraíso and is by far the tastiest, sweetest pear I have ever eaten. The second and much larger is a pear locally known as pera prieto which has a slightly darker color and a bit less sweet. Both of these pears are found in the market in May, June and July.

Pepino Amarillo, see Cucumber, yellow

Piloncillo, see Sugarcane

Pimiento morrón, see Bell Pepper

Pitahaya or Pitaya, see Dragon Fruit

Plantains, see Bananas


Plum is called ciruela or ciruelo in Spanish. There is disagreement among taxonomist as to how many species of plums there are. Plums are native to Europe, Asia and the Americas.


Ciruela de huesito or Jocote (Spondias purpurea), is called atoyaxócotl, mazaxocotl in Nahuatl.[plum1] It is native to the Americas. They can be found in March, April, August and September. I suspect that the ones found in March are a different variety than those found in August. The ones found is August tend to be more orange and taste a bit sweetier. A bag of about twenty of theses fruit will cost 10 pesos or U.S. .45 cents (April 2018). For a larger image of ciruelas click here.



Pomegranate is called Granada in Spanish. For a larger image click here.


Purslane is verdolaga in Spanish. Purslane is an old world plant but now grows all over the Americas including in my yard. It is mainly used in soups in Mexico. Click here for a larger image of purslane and here for the closeup view.

Prickly Pear fruit, see Nopal



Rambután or Rambutan in English originates from Asia and now prospers throughout Central America. The outer shell and the seed inside of the fruit in not to be eaten.

Ricinus communis, see Higuerilla

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Page 3 of 5 pages, page 1, page 2, page 4 and page 5 (Chiles)

Footnotes and Notes

  1. Mint1. Mentas y Oréganos. Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad. Spanish. Retrieved March 2018.
  2. Nanche1. Byrsonima crassifolia. Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad. Spanish. Retrieved March 2018.
  3. Plum1. Spondias purpurea. Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad. Spanish. Retrieved April 2018.

Photo Credits

Photos taken by Marc Wilkinson. I, the copyright holder, hereby publish these photos under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).