Today is the first day of fall. Or is it spring? This tree seems uncertain as to which side of the equator it is on:
Amidst mostly bare branches, you can see one of the odditiesâ€”and challengesâ€”of growing deciduous fruit trees in a subtropical climate. Deciduous fruit trees need winter chill to set fruit. But if they go dormant earlyâ€”and this tree does, every yearâ€”they can be prone to open a few flower buds in a fall warm spell rather than holding them all for the following spring. We are having quite a warm spellâ€”highs in the mid-80sâ€”on account of subtropical flow from Hurricane Max (even some thunderstorms a couple of days ago). It looks like it will be really warm today, though down on the part of the finca where this tree grows, it was a fall-like 48 this morning, indicating that the tropical air has moved on out.
The tree shown above is a Mesch Mesch Amrah black apricot. Actually a plumcot (half plum, half apricot), and a naturally ocurring hybrid found in Libya. I got mine from Raintree Nursery, which no longer features the variety.
When I first got it, we lived in Carlsbad. Because it is so rare, we dug it up in the winter of 2002 and potted it for transplanting at our new finca, Ladera Frutal. It has fruited almost every year, both in Carlsbad and in its new digs. More heavily after colder winters, and better here than in Carlsbad (where winters are a good deal milder than here).
The fruit is small, fuzzy like an apricot, dark red like some plums, yellow inside with red streaks, and has a distinctive blend of plum and apricot with some berry ovetones to its flavor. It deserves to be better known.
The Mesch Mesch Amrah is not alone in blooming off-cycle. Many apples do it, such as our Strawberry Parfait, which I posted on previously. Note the cluster of blooms near the top of the photo, and several fruit at either side. This fruit represents the third crop this tree has had this year. Ah, yes, that is one of the advantages of growing in this climate!
Notice that I am growing this tree as an espalierâ€”that is, flat against a fence. The fence itself has been reinforced with hardware cloth as part of my ongoing battle with squirrels. It might actually be working, though I still have mice or other “adorable little rodents” that nibble at fruit inside my corralito.