Sea Grapes and Other Low Hanging Fruits

I don’t know if it’s because I’m vegan or if it’s because I’m cheap, but few things in life give me more pleasure than picking ripe fruit off a tree. Perhaps if I ate meat I would get similar excitement when I discovered my car ran over a raccoon, but I doubt it.

In Florida we lack the blackberries that grow as weeds throughout most of the country. But if you keep your eyes open there are a few treats you can forage.

Coconut palms are abundant around the beach areas. Unfortunately unless you happen to stumble upon a fallen coconut, you have to be an ace climber to grope your way up the trunk. And then of course there is the great difficulty in opening the coconut.

There are trees with mangoes, starfruits and avocados littered throughout the region. Sadly more often than not they lie on someone’s private property. With Florida being a Stand Your Ground state you might literally be taking your life in your hands for a forbidden fruit.

The mulberry is a favorite. The long black berry when ripe will stain your mouth as you bare a tree of them.

Then there are my beloved surinam cherries. Every spring they make my walks around the neighborhood take a little longer as I grab a handful here and a handful there, leaving a trail of spit out pits along my way.

But the easiest fruit to come across that happens to be ripening right now are sea grapes.

Walk near any beach in South Florida and you will discover the green little fruits turning purple. No other fruit has as apt a name as sea grapes. If you catch a ripe one it can taste like a grape. Nibble on a bad one though and it will taste like the sea.

Unlike many of the afore mentioned fruits, the sea grape is native to South Florida. And I’ve learned tourists sometimes put a stamp on the tree’s leaf, write down an address and mail the leaf through the post office. For me sucking on the tree’s fruit is proof enough I’ve survived another South Florida summer.

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David Rolland

David Rolland edits the Jitney blog. He is the author of the novels Yo-Yo & The End of the Century.