Saturday, January 8, 2011
Crataegus pubescens, C. mexicana, Tejocote
According to Wikipedia, the name of this plant is Crataegus mexicana, not Crataegus pubescens as this sign at the UC Botanical Garden indicates. But who cares? "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." And indeed, this small tree is in the rose family and the fruit smells like a cross between a rose and an apple, also both in the rose family.
Tejocote is an important fruit in traditional Mexican celebrations. It is the main flavor in the hot juice drink (Ponche Villa) served in December. The fruit is also used as an offering on the Day of the Dead. They even make a rosary out of it. So, when Mexicans moved to California, of course they wanted to continue the tradition. But the tree wasn't growing here, and the Department of Agriculture was worried about pests that could stowaway on the fruit if it was imported. Thousands of pounds of illicit fruit were confiscated year after year. Until Jaime Serrato got the bright idea to grow the fruit in this country. So now it is more available here and everyone is happy. I am going to have to check Berkeley Bowl to see if they have it.
Tejocote has a high pectin content, so it would make a great addition to jam. The pectin is extracted in large quantities to use in the food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and textile industries. The wood is hard and is used to make tool handles.
In fruit now at the UC Botanical Garden. In the Mexican bed near the entrance.