March 20, 2014
Rambutans are lychee relatives believed to be native to Indonesia and Malaysia. Like lychees, they bear a lobed white-fleshed fruit with a single dark-colored seed inside the thin but strong skin. Today their distribution includes many equatorial coast and island countries around the globe.
Unlike the lychee (and similar fruits of other relatives) they are graced with hair-like spines. Both the fruit and spines start as green but diverge in color as the fruit tree-ripens; the fruit shifts from orange to red-violet, while the spines more quickly darken as they pass through similar shades.
Rambutans are also related to the mamoncillos of South America. Further, Costa Rica encounters the mamón chino, another haired but golden-colored relative named for its Asian origin.
Rambutan seeds may be cooked and eaten.
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