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Aug 20, 2012 05:40 PM

Wax apples?

Anyone ever see these in the area? In Chinese I believe they are called lian wu. Waxy, pinkish red skin with bell shape body. Delectably crisp with good juiciness. Not a strong flavor or overly sweet but just really refreshing. Never seen them in the states but thought I'd ask the board.

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  1. Huh, never seen those. They're not apples. Sounds like they need a tropical climate, they're grown around Miami.

    1. Never seen jambu air in the US. Some pages on cultivation suggest that they might be able to fruit in Hawaii's climate, but that's probably it. I suspect that any prospective growers have held off, figuring that any new fruit that's more watery than in-your-face sweet will not be to American tastes. But if you are really curious maybe it would be worth calling around to local Malaysian restaurants to see if they've ever tried to source it for Penang rojak?

      2 Replies
      1. re: bigwheel042

        Yeah, I figured now that mangosteen, guava, lychee ec have made it here, do too would these. Whats Penang Rojas?

        1. re: FattyDumplin

          Penang rojak is a Malaysian fruit "salad" that typically includes wax apple/jambu air. The fruit is mixed with a bunch of other ingredients that usually include jellyfish and/or cuttlefish, then the whole thing is liberally dressed with a sauce made from dried shrimp paste (belacan).

          Lychee and mangosteen are very sweet to begin with and guava preps often add lots of sugar to make it palatable to American tastes. Having tasted jambu air I have a hard time believing it'll catch on in the States, even sweetened, anytime soon. Though it'll probably make it here before salak pondoh does...

      2. A related species grows in Hawaii. They're called mountain apples there. Syzygium malaccense. Wax apples are Syzygium samarangense

        2 Replies
        1. re: DebL

          ARGHH! I just got back from Hawaii this week. I totally should have checked.

          1. re: FattyDumplin

            If it's any consolation, I've never seen them for sale in any store there, although it's possible they're available at a farmers' market. When I was a kid, we would get them from friends or relatives--no one would dream of *buying* them. Like guavas and local mangoes, they were just available.

        2. I have a hunch they are not allowed to be sold in the US. There may be a trade agreement with taiwan that they cannot be grown here for commercial use, but that's all speculation based on how delicious they are and why no one sells them. They can be grown here(in so cal at least) as a family friend had a tree. Needless to say, I was instantly nicer to this family friend than I had ever been to anyone else. Wasn't as great as in taiwan, but better than nothing.

          5 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston


              While some pages suggest they can indeed grow in southern Florida (, I am in Miami right now visiting family and have **never, ever** seen them on a retail shelf here.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Love this fruit. I'm lucky enough to go to Taiwan in the winter when it's in season so I get a reasonably regular fix. And to the OP, yes they're called lian2 wu4 in Mandarin and lem-bu in Taiwanese.

                  I've spent quite a bit of time in south Florida recently. Not that it's the end-all and be-all of tropical fruit, but the highly-esteemed (and improbably named) Robert Is Here fruit stand doesn't sell it. Given that they specialize in tropical fruit (eight kinds of mangos!), including many locally-grown ones, it suggests that you can't buy it in Florida at the moment, at least not in a normal commercial setting. Perhaps one day. I'm told, however, that these fruit travel very poorly so even if Florida starts to get them, it's not clear to me if they would make their way to California with regularity.

                  1. re: bouncepass

                    OMG, yes... whenever my wife and I go back to Taiwan, the first thing we do is buy a big bag of lembu and pongam (which, by the way, a derivative of which made it to whole foods this year). i think the above poster who said this fruit may end up with too niche of a following and the issues with transport you state, make it unlikely that we'll ever see it in SF. but, i'll have to discuss with my LA brother in law who maintains a bunch of asian fruit trees but has no lembu right now.

          1. Yelp has a report of a Vietnamese grocer in the LA area that has it sometimes. If they can get it, Berkeley Bowl might be able to as well. Probably would be disappointing, though.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              interesting. will have to try to track it down. thanks for all the emails!