From the Archives
of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by B. J. Watson, Kamerunga Horticultural Research Station
What's in a name?
Not much, I once thought - at least as far as fruit are concerned.
However, it is very obvious that some people are concerned about
retaining the names they have known from childhood - and perhaps why
shouldn't they? Not having grown up in the 'sunburnt country' and thus
not having too many prejudices (at least about tropical fruit) I have
often tried to convert my colleagues to call our papaw/pawpaw/paw paw,
(take your pick) by the more prestigious name of papaya. My argument is
that it is also the specific name (Carica papaya) and the name also
commonly used in Asia, the Pacific and the Americas. However it is
quite obvious that hell will freeze over before my colleagues are
persuaded to change. They are probably right - they've known 'papaw'
since childhood. The fruit was probably invented in Queensland and
anyway who gives a damn about what it is called in those other backward
guess the papaw episode proves a point - if a name is around for long
enough then it becomes firmly established and people are very reluctant
to change it. We don't have a dictator (even in Queensland) thumping us
every time we differ from recommended spellings of fruit names.
However, the established fruit which fall under the jurisdiction of
marketing standards (Standards Branch - D.P.I. and the C.O.D.) are well
protected as far as names are concerned. I'd probably be very quickly
in trouble if I sent my carton of papaws into Brisbane market labelled
You might also recall the problems the group of
N.S.W. growers of atemoyas (still officially custard apples) had when
they attempted to market their product as cherimoyer (cherimoya?) - I'm
not sure if they are out of jail yet!
However is all this
relevant to our Amazon tree grapes, velvet apples, black pudding
fruits, South American custard apples, five corners, sugar apples,
etc.? No, not really. With these and several hundred others not yet
under the official C.O.D. marketing umbrella it is a free-for-all and
in many ways it is part of the fun to have the multiplicity of common
names, many describing their physical appearance relationship to our
traditional fruits - apple, pear, plum, etc.
Did you know that
the mamoncillo (Melicoccus bijugatus) is also variously called Spanish
lime, anoncillo, genip, honeyberry, Jamaica bullace plum, kanappy,
knepe, knippleboom, mamon, maco, quenepa and takeboom! (I should invent
a game of Trivial Pursuit with all this information I have tucked
away). The situation changes rather rapidly though when a product
becomes established in the market place and growers become committed to
a substantial investment in the crop. They then usually become more
market-conscious and if the usual common name is thought not to have a
universal appeal then moves may be made to have it changed. You may
recall Chinese gooseberry being converted to Kiwifruit. Apparently in
new markets sales boomed as soon as the name change was made.
of the resolutions arising out of the 1980 Tropical Tree Fruit Workshop
at Coolum (the workshop papers are printed as the D.P.I. publication
Tropical Tree Fruits for Australia) was to prepare a list of
standardised common names for fruits in Australia. Yours truly was
nominated as the coordinator for the work. After a couple of years of
survey - questionnaire compiling, ear bashing and some plain punting,
the booklet list was produced. It is called Austrofruit I, and in fact
it also incorporates recommended botanical names which are not
The document presents the common names as
suggestions to follow. It attempts to minimise confusion with words
such as sapote (fruit) apple, plum, etc. and also considers a choice
for marketing. The authors ask readers to consider the names and
support those (or at least most) recommended. Remember the longer
something is called by an odd or inappropriate name, then the more
difficult it eventually becomes to change it.
summary, nobody is energetically promoting their versions of the
correct names for the lesser known fruits - but the compilers of
Austrofruit have made recommendations. These recommendations may or may
not be the best choice for marketing. If growers are concerned about a
fruit name, then they should get together and lobby the D.P.I./C.O.D.
for name change and registration. This, of course, should only be done
for a fruit which is obviously becoming of some significance in the
For the other fruits which may (in future) or may
not ever make the grade to be recognised as 'commercial' crops, it
perhaps at the moment, doesn't matter too much what they are called.
However, if nurserymen and enthusiasts continue for long enough with
unfortunate name choices then it eventually makes it very difficult for
an emerging crop to be renamed. The best example of this situation is
probably custard apple.
Nobody is suggesting we put a
straight-jacket around freedom of choice on all fruit names, but
horticultural production is difficult enough without having additional
restraints imposed by poor market reaction to the names we have chosen.
Some of the most desired changes are:
||Other Known Common Names
||Annona squamosa X A. cherimola
||Black sapote, chocolate pudding fruit
||Five corner, star fruit
||South American sapote
||papaw, pawpaw, paw paw
||Amazon custard apple, corosol, biriba
|Taun or dawa
Fortunately the names of a number of
promising crops including rambutan, durian, mangosteen, longan,
pummelo, etc. are not in contention.
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