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Blighia sapida - K.D.Koenig

Common Name Akee, ackee apple or ayee
Family Sapindaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Great care should be exercised if eating this fruit. It must only be eaten when fully ripe since both before and after that stage it is considered to be poisonous[200 ]. A toxic peptide, hypoglycine A, is contained in the unripe aril[307 ]. The pink raphe that attaches the aril to its seed is deadly toxic and must be carefully and completely removed[307 ]. The pounded fruit is used as fish poison[299 ].
Habitats Seasonally dry lowland woodland[307 ]. Forest outliers on the savannah and drier parts of forests[332 ].
Range Western and central tropical Africa - Senegal to Cameroon and Gabon.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Blighia sapida Akee, ackee apple or ayee

Blighia sapida Akee, ackee apple or ayee


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An evergreen fruiting tree named in honour of Captain Willima Blight of the Bounty mutiny. A very decorative, vigorous species. In Jamaica Akee, along with mango and breasfruit, is the most common backyard tree.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Blighia sapida is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees. The plant is not self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Akea solitaria Stokes Akeesia africana Tussac Cupania akeesia Cambess. ex Spach Cupania sapida (K.D.Koenig) Oken


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil
Edible Uses: Oil

Fruit - eaten raw when fully ripe[301 ]. The fleshy arils surrounding the seeds are firm and oily, with a nutty flavour, though they can soon become rancid[46 ]. The fleshy fruit can also be curried, used in soups, stews, etc[301 ]. The fruit is harvested when they have split open naturally, revealing four large glossy black seeds embedded in spongy, cream-coloured buttery arils[307 ]. The pear-shaped fruit is about 75mm long, 45mm wide, and is produced in clumps of 3 - 10[46 , 335 ]. The fruit must be allowed to open fully, or at least partly, before it is detached from the tree[317 ]. Unripe or overripe arils, as well as the seeds, contain hypoglycin and its derivative - they are strongly toxic[301 , 317 ]. The seeds yield a yellowish oil that is believed to be edible[299 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidiarrhoeal  Antipruritic  Diuretic  Dysentery  Epilepsy  Febrifuge  Laxative  Ophthalmic  
Parasiticide  Skin  Stomachic

The plant (part not specified) is used to treat anaemia and itching[617 ]. In traditional medicine in Cote d?Ivoire, Blighia sapida is widely used for the treatment of yellow fever, epilepsy and oedema, and as a laxative and diuretic[299 ]. Sap from terminal buds is instilled in the eyes to treat ophthalmia and conjunctivitis[299 ]. The pulp of ground-up leafy twigs is rubbed on the forehead to treat migraine[299 ]. The ground-up leaves, combined with plant salts, are applied as a paste to treat yaws and ulcers[299 ]. The leaves are used in the treatment of fever and vertigo, and twigs to treat hepatitis, cirrhosis and amygdalitis[299 ]. Bark and leaf decoctions are administered to treat oedema, intercostal pain, dysentery and diarrhoea[299 ]. Decoctions of bark or fruit walls are applied to wounds[299 ]. Pounded bark is administered as an antidote to snake and scorpion bites[299 ]. The bark, ground-up with capsicum pepper (Capsicum annuum), is rubbed on the body as a stimulant[299 ]. The seeds are taken to treat stomach complaints, including nausea and vomiting[299 ]. Aqueous seed extracts are administered to expel parasites[299 ]. The fruit pulp is used to treat whitlow[299 ]. A water-soluble and heat-stable toxic compound, hypoglycin A, is present in the aril of unripe seeds, as well as in the seed and in the pinkish to reddish tissue at the base of the aril. The Jamaican vomiting sickness is associated with this compound and is characterized by vomiting, generalized weakness, altered consciousness and sometimes even death. Hypoglycaemia and depression of the central nervous system are common. The aril of fully ripe seeds after natural dehiscence of the fruit is nearly free of the toxic compound. The consumption of unripe seed arils has probably caused many cases of encephalopathy in children in Burkina Faso and other West African countries.

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Containers  Fuel  Furniture  Ink  Mordant  Oil  Parasiticide  Potash  Soap  Soap making  Soil conditioner  Soil stabilization  Wood

Design: Small shade tree; small fruiting tree; specimen tree; xerophytic. Agroforestry Uses: The tree is often planted to provide shade[299 , 317 ]. It is considered useful for soil improvement and erosion control[299 ]. Other Uses: The dried fruit husks are rich in potash; the ashes can be used in making soap[299 , 307 ]. The flowers are used in the preparation of an aromatic water[46 , 301 ]. Used as a cosmetic[46 ]. The green fruits lather in warm water and are used as soap for washing and as a mordant for dyeing[299 , 307 ]. The oil from the seeds are used in making traditional soap[299 ]. The seeds contain about 26% of oil which is suitable for industrial applications[299 ]. An ink for tattoos is made from the seeds[299 ]. The heartwood is orange-brown or reddish brown; it is distinctly demarcated from the whitish sapwood. The texture is moderately coarse; the wood has little lustre. It is moderately heavy, hard, moderately durable and quite resistant to termite attack. It is easy to work with both machine and hand tools. The wood moulds and sands well and takes an attractive finish. The wood is mainly used for light construction and furniture, but sometimes also for casks, boxes, crates, food containers, packing cases, tool handles, paddles, pestles, mortars, handicrafts, carving and turnery. It is suitable for interior trim, joinery and railway sleepers[299 ]. Dried fruit husks are rich in potash. The wood is used for fuel and to make charcoal[299 ]. Wild fruit for birds and bats nectar for bees. A honey plant.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Other Systems: Homegarden  Other Systems: Parkland  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Protein-oil

A plant of the drier to very wet lowland tropics and subtropics, where it is found at elevations up to 900 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 24 - 27c, but can tolerate 20 - 34c[418 ]. Mature plants can be killed by temperatures of -3c or lower, but young plants are intolerant of any frost[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 - 4,000mm, but tolerates 700 - 6,000mm[418 ]. Grows best in a sunny position[307 ]. Prefers a moist, loamy, fertile, well-drained soil[200 , 307 ]. Plants can succeed in a range of soils, including infertile, rocky soils[335 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.3 - 8[418 ]. Established plants are drought tolerant[307 ]. Initial growth is fast on moderately fertile soils. Seedlings grow best in gaps in the forest canopy, with a mean annual height increment of 70cm[299 ]. Plants can commence cropping when 3 - 4 years old from seed[335 ]. The plant has been known to escape from cultivation when grown in sandy soils[307 ]. Plants flower intermittently throughout the year[307 ]. A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required[299 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Other Systems: Homegarden  Tropical multistrata agroforestry (multi-story combinations of trees, crops, domestic animals in the homestead).
  • Other Systems: Parkland  Africa - Trees scattered throughout cropland. An Irregular intercropping system.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.
  • Staple Crop: Protein-oil  (16+ percent protein, 16+ percent oil). Annuals include soybeans, peanuts, sunflower seeds. Perennials include seeds, beans, nuts, and fruits such as almond, Brazil nut, pistachio, walnut, hazel, and safou.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Seed - they are sensitive to desiccation and are considered short-lived. It is recommended to sow them within a few days after extraction from the fruit. However, seeds can be kept for 3 months in moist storage at 21°c. Germination starts after 2 - 4 weeks, with a germination rate of 80%[299 ]. Greenwood cuttings. Air layering Grafting

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Abai, Achee, Akee Apple, Aki, Akye, Akyen, Arbol de seso, Bien me sabe, Castanha, Finza, Finzan, Huevo vegetal, Ishin, Kaka, Merey del diablo, Otousi, Palo de seso, Pan y quesito, Pera roja, Seso vegetal, Vegetable brain

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Asia, Australia, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Caribbean, Central Africa, Central African Republic, CAR, Central America, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Guianas, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Mali, Martinique, Mexico, Nigeria, North America, Pacific, Panama, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Sao Tome and Principe, SE Asia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South America, St Lucia, Sudan, Suriname, Trinidad, Togo, USA, Venezuela, West Africa, West Indies

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

May be invasive

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Subject : Blighia sapida  
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