The Dovyalis, commonly called "Tropical Apricot" is a large, spreading
shrub that grows 18 to 20 feet with about the same width. It usually has
long, drooping branches with 3-4 inch green leaves. Some types of Dovyalis
have large, conspicuous thorns while others are completely thornless. The
one most commonly grown is a sweet variety, a natural hybrid that developed
between Dovyalis abyssinica and Dovyalis hebecarpa.
Fruits are produced during much of the warm season at various intervals
and are about 1-1/4 - 1-1/2 inches across, brownish-red or yellow at maturity
with tiny white spots in many varieties. The flesh is yellow-orange, very
soft with a distinctive apricot flavor. Fruits are commonly eaten fresh
or used for various types of jellies, jams, pies and drinks. The Dovyalis
can be made into an excellent wine.
Shrubs are propagated by airlayering or by taking cuttings from the
better flavored varieties. Usually, when airlayered, fruiting can be expected
in the same year, while cuttings usually take about a year to fruit. Most
Dovyalis are widely adapted to a extensive range of soil conditions, but
get a lot of nutrient deficiencies on highly alkaline soil. Dovyalis should
be fertilized once every 2-3 months with a good-quality, complete fertilizer.
On alkaline soils, make sure that additional minor elements are supplied
to keep trees normal in appearance. Most Dovyalis do not need a lot of heavy
watering, but will benefit from mulching to keep their roots moist during
the dry season. Most Dovyalis grow at a rate of 3-4 feet a year and can
be grown as a hedge if desired, although more often they are kept as a large
Although relatively hardy, Dovyalis will freeze at 26° F, but
if cut back to undamaged wood they will recover quickly. Most varieties of
Dovyalis carried in nurseries are the sweet varieties, however, occasionally
some will be very tart, because they might have been raised from seed.
If you have friends that have sweet varieties, try to get cuttings
or airlayers to be sure of getting good quality fruit.
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© 2000 BGCII Page posted March 2004