National Library of Jamaica

ACKEE

(Blighia sapida)

 

Scientifically named in honour of Captain Bligh who brought it from Jamaica to England (Blighia) and for its savoury taste (sapida).

A native to West Africa, ackee was brought here by enslaved West Africans. The first evidence of ackee growing in Jamaica was found in the 1700s.

The ackee tree grows eight to fifteen metres tall. It flowers biannually, occasionally more often.

The fruit of the ackee is not edible in its entirety, only the inner, fleshy yellow arils are consumed.

The presence of of hypoglycine A in the immature and over-mature fruit is found in ackee and this makes it poisonous at certain stages in its development, this is why Jamaicans believe that ackee must open naturally to avoid the toxicity.

It is widely consumed in Jamaica and Jamaicans are among the only people who eat it.

Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and one-half of the national dish, ackee and saltfish. Though Ackee and Saltfish is the most popular dish made from the ackee, it is also combined with callaloo and corned pork, mackerel, bacon or beef for other dishes.

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