There is a row of beautiful trees lining Avenida Mexico in front of Parque Hidalgo here in Puerto Vallarta. I walk by these trees several times each week and right now they are heavy with a fruit I mistook for olives.
I asked an old man sitting in the park what kind of tree this was—“¿Qué tipo de árbol es este?”
“Arrayan,” he replied.
I thought he was wrong. So I took a couple of pictures and pulled down a high branch to examine the fruit.
A short woman from a shop across the street ran up and asked me if I would pull down a branch for her. I did and she began filling her apron with the fruit.
Up close the fruits she picked still appeared to me to be black olives.
“¿Qué tipo de frutos son?—What kind of fruits are these?”
“Pistachees,” she replied, “Hacen una muy buena aguas frescas.—They make very good cool or sweet waters.”
Aguas frescas are common here. They are made with fruits, flowers, nuts, seeds mixed with sugar and water. The result is a light non-alcoholic drink.
Some of the more common aguas frescas are Jamaica—Hibiscus, Tamarindo—Tamarind, and Horchata—a mix of ground almonds, rice and barley in many variations.
Pistachios? Is that what she meant? I didn’t think so. So I bit into one I judged was ripe by its dark purple color. It was sweetish, but was certainly nothing like the hard-shelled pistachio nut I am familiar with. It had a pit in the middle a bit like an olive, but it sure didn’t taste like an olive.
When I got home, I wrote a note to Bob Price at Jardín Botaníco Vallarta. I sent him my pictures and asked for his help identifying the tree.
That is a pistashio tree, or as they call it here, pistachee.
It is not the Mediterranean pistachio but a local variety. I have never tried the nuts to know if they are edible. Good luck!
Vallarta Botanical Gardens
That made me wonder what part was the ‘nut’. The seed?
Does anyone out there know what’s what about this tree and its fruit?
Please let me know.