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Publication #Circular 1440

New Plants for Florida: Tropical Fruit1

Jonathan Crane2

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FAES tropical fruit breeding began in 1930 with the establishment of the Homestead Subtropical Experiment Station, now called the Tropical Research and Education Center (TREC). S.J. Lynch, H.S. Wolfe, G.D. Ruehle and L.R. Toy introduced germplasm of numerous tropical crops for testing and evaluation. Their efforts, along with those of subsequent TREC scientists during the 1940s and 1950s, resulted in superior guava, sapodilla, and loquat varieties with improved fruit yield and quality. Later scientists C.W. Campbell, Simon Malo, and J. Popenoe continued to introduce, evaluate and select superior tropical fruit. These efforts lead to the release of Cariflora papaya and the Homestead guava. The Golden Star carambola is now used as a main source of rootstocks for high-pH, calcareous soils. The Ruehle avocado, released in 1962, remains a minor commercial variety today. Cariflora papaya has been identified as one of the most papaya-ringspot-tolerant varieties ever produced and has been used throughout the world (e.g., Taiwan, Thailand, Latin America, Hawaii) to further the development of superior papaya-ringspot-resistant varieties. From the mid-1950s to the 1970s, researchers released a number of superior Tahiti lime selections. In addition, TREC introduced the Mauritius lychee from South Africa in 1952, the Magaña mamey sapote from El Salvador in 1961, and the Mysore raspberry from India in 1948. Currently, Mauritius lychee is the major lychee, and Magaña is the second most important mamey sapote variety grown in Florida. Several superior sapodilla varieties grown commercially today were released by TREC.

Today, the tropical fruit program includes the evaluation of superior passion fruit and carambola varieties and evaluating open-pollinated seedling material of mamey sapote and carambola. A molecular genetics project for papaya seeks to develop resistance to ringspot virus, to improve cold tolerance, and to select for superior insect and disease resistance and superior fruit quality and yields. There are ongoing projects to perfect the use of tissue culture and molecular genetics to aid selection for improved resistance to sunblotch viroid, mango anthracnose fruit resistance, and avocado phytophthora root-rot rootstocks in avocado, for fruit anthracnose resistance in avocado, and to evaluate and select superior rootstock germplasm from open-pollinated West Indian type avocados for phytophthora root-rot-resistant rootstock.

Florida tropical fruit industry acreage has fluctuated during the past 70 years due to natural disasters, foreign competition and changes in U.S. demographics. Today, there are about 13,000 acres in cultivation, with an economic impact of over $100 million annually.

For more information about tropical fruit varieties, see the following EDIS publications:

HS 1 The Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota, Van Royen) in Florida

Circular 1024 The Avacado

HS 49 The Longan (Dimocarpus longan Lour.) in Florida

HS 4 The Guava

FC-30 The Mamey Sapote

HS 28 Barbados Cherry

HS-5 The Loquat

HS 11 The Papaya

FC-8 The Tahiti Lime

HS 23 Dooryard Fruit Varieties


Table 1. 

FAES tropical fruit varieties selected or bred at TREC, Homestead.

Tropical Fruit


Date of Release

Guava Redland


  Supreme, Ruby




Sapodilla Prolific


  Brown Sugar




White sapote Dade


Mamey sapote Copan, Mayapan, Tazumal


Black sapote Merida


Canistel Oro, Trompo


Barbados cherry Florida Sweet


Avacado Ruehle


Loquat Wolfe


Carambola Golden Star


Lime 10 Tahiti lime selections


Papaya Cariflora




This document is Circular 1440, one of a series of the Agronomy Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date August 2003. Revised April 2010. Reviewed July 2013. Visit the EDIS website at


Jonathan Crane, Associate Professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, Tropical REC--Homestead, FL. Circular 1440 is edited by Richard L. Jones, Mary L. Duryea, and Berry J. Treat, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Richard L. Jones, Dean for Research, publishes this information to further programs and related activities, available to all persons regardless of race, color, age, sex, disability or national origin. Information about alternate formats is available from IFAS Communication Services, University of Florida, PO Box 110810, Gainesville, FL 32611-0810.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.