Tropical fruits in Andalucia
sun kissed fruits
The growing of tropical fruits in Andalucia, in Axarquia
In this article you will find the essential information about tropical fruit in Andalucia
- The origins and evolution of this crop
- Places where tropical fruit is grown
- The diversity of tropical fruit in Andalucia
- Tropical fruit Tour : Tropiruta
- Ordering organic tropical fruit
- Some useful links
The origins and evolution of tropical fruit cultivation in Andalucia
Preamble: these tropical fruits are grown today alongside the olive, the oldest fruit grown in Andalucia, and the medlar, which grows wild.
Here is a brief chronology of the fruit crops imported into Andalucia:
- almonds, originating in Iran
- figs, from the East
- sugar cane (from Indonesia)
- oranges (from China)
- lemons (from India)
These crops were brought by the Greeks, Romans and especially the Arabs from Asia.
After the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus
Tropical fruit crops came mainly from the Americas, starting with the prickly pear (from Mexico) in the early 16th century:
Then, in the 18th century, an inhabitant of Periana brought back a fruit from Argentina: the melocoton. This fruit looks like a peach. However, its cultivation has fallen into disuse in Andalusia over the last thirty years.
In the 19th century, the first tropical fruit crops from the Americas really began to be cultivated, especially with the planting of some avocados.
Most of the fruits mentioned below originated in the Americas. These crops started in the 20th century.
Places where tropical fruits are grown
Tropical fruit cultivation in Andalucia is concentrated in a very small area: on the Costa Tropical and in Axarquia. The latter enjoys a subtropical microclimate.
Velez-Malaga, the capital of La Axarquia, is now considered the European capital of tropical fruit.
Axarquia has a typical animal of this climate as its emblem: the chameleon. From time to time, you may come across one in the fields.
It is also home to the village with the reputation of having the best climate in Europe, Torrox pueblo.
The diversity of tropical fruits in Andalucia ( in Axarquia)
Most of the tropical fruit cultivation is concentrated in the municipalities of Velez-Malaga, its European capital, Benamargosa and Torrox.
Mango and avocado are the main crops (with 6 varieties grown for mango and around ten for avocado).
Fruit varieties are evolving in the context of the search for better management of water resources. In this respect, the cultivation of pitaya (dragon fruit) has developed considerably in recent years. Indeed, this fruit grows on a cactus.
For the record: you may have noticed that this fruit remains expensive, whether it comes from here or from Asia. The reason for this is both simple and peculiar: the structure of the pitaya flower prevents it from being pollinated by bees, especially as the flower opens completely at night and not during the day.
In its natural state in Mexico, this flower is pollinated by two unusual living beings, one of which is a mammal! This is a species of bat that is very fond of this flower and a species of moth. Elsewhere in the world, each flower is pollinated by human hands, which explains its price.
However, the list of tropical fruits grown here in the gardens is phenomenal.
To name a few: kumquat …
…guava, lucuma, longan. However, these are still rare to find on the markets.
On the other hand, are frequently found : Pomegranates
passion fruit :
or carambola :
And there are fruits that grow on their own, more or less in the wild, such as the Adam’s rib:
This tropical fruit grows on a liana, which quite frequently adorns houses. Below, the fruit shortly before harvesting:
And as an ornament, plantains are quite often found.
NB: 95% of the banana cultivation in Spain is in the Canary Islands. However, it is not uncommon to find plantains (platano) in Andalucia.
Dried tropical fruits
These are mainly pecans and macadamia nuts. In the photo below, a macadamia tree:
and here are the macadamia nuts, in their shells:
The rarest tropical fruit I’ve seen in Andalucia :
This fruit, Buddha’s hand, from the lemon family, is not used for its juice. It is used as a zest, the fingers of the Buddha’s hand are grated.
Finally, for the last 3 years, there has been a new crop on Algarrobo (not yet specialised): the cocoa bean. A few dozen kilos of cocoa were harvested in 2022.
Fruit at the market in Torre del Mar
The market in Torre del Mar is where you will find the most tropical fruit to buy. However, it is among the early fruits in the surrounding villages that you will find tropical fruit from small-scale cultivation.
The Tropical fruit Route: Tropiruta
A local guide, Cipriano, a native of Velez-Malaga, offers an excursion: the Tropiruta. This guided tour leaves from Nerja, Torre del Mar and Torrox.
This excursion, partly in the fields, is dedicated to the discovery of the mango and avocado crops.
In this link you will find the details, the price and the possibility to book online:
NB: this tour is only possible a few months in the year: just before and during the harvest.
Ordering organic tropical fruit
For those who love sun-drenched Andalusian fruit and are not in the area, there is a small company in Torrox that works exclusively with a few small, carefully selected organic Andalusian producers.
These are Miguel in Benamargosa and Jesus in Torrox, who produce tropical fruit. The oranges and lemons will come from the finca of Juan and César near Cordoba.
You can order these fruits online and have them delivered to Europe. Here is a link to this small company that delivers organic tropical fruits and citrus fruits grown in Andalucia.
Some useful links (car hire, ideas for visits)
Here is a great car rental agency in Andalusia and more specifically at Malaga airport : book a rental car.
If you are in Andalucia as part of a tour with several major cities to visit, here are some links that may be of interest:
- Discover must-sees before visiting Cordoba
- Visit Malaga on foot.
- All you need to know about Granada, the Alhambra, the Albaicin neighbourhood before visiting Granada
- If you are passing through the geographical centre of Andalusia, then you can visit Antequera, with the incredible natural site of El Torcal right next door
Experiences to discover in the province of Malaga
Find more ideas for visits to authentic Andalusia: see the blog pages on Andalusia.
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