The purple mangosteen [mang-guh-steen] is a tropical evergreen tree believed to have originated in Indonesia. The rind (exocarp) of the edible fruit is deep reddish purple when ripe. Botanically an aril (like pomegranate fruit), the fragrant edible flesh can be described as sweet and tangy, citrusy with a flavour and texture similar to a peach. It is sometimes called the ‘Queen of Fruit,’ owing to an apocryphal legend of Queen Victoria offering a reward of 100 pounds sterling to anyone who could deliver to her a fresh mangosteen. An ultratropical tree, the mangosteen must be grown in consistently warm conditions, as exposure to temperatures below freezing for prolonged periods will generally kill a mature plant. Experienced horticulturists have grown this species outdoors, and brought them to fruit in extreme South Florida.

Due to restrictions on imports, mangosteen is not readily available in certain countries. Although available in Australia, for example, they are still rare in the produce sections of grocery stores in North America and Europe. Beginning in 2007 for the first time, fresh mangosteens were sold from specialty produce stores in New York City for as high as $45 per pound, but wider availability and lower prices have become common in the United States and Canada. Before ripening, the mangosteen shell is fibrous and firm, but becomes soft and easy to pry open when the fruit ripens.


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