Have you ever heard of soursop fruit? The lipstick tree or the pencil tree? Screw pines? Luffa sponge plants? Inca peanuts? Baobab trees? Probably not. While they may sound exotic to you, they are quite common in different parts of the world.
The other things these plants and trees have in common are that they are being grown in Hans Fritschi’s private botanical garden about 15 kilometres from Pattaya in Huay Yai. Hans calls it his “Discovery Garden” and he plans to open it to the public in about a year. Hans spoke about his Garden to the Pattaya City Expats Club last Sunday.
PCEC Member Ren Lexander interviews Hans Fritschi after his presentation about his Discovery Garden and its many interesting plants. The interview can be viewed at: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=tfSuIKZuL0o.
Hans said that when he bought a huge plot of land nine years ago in Huay Yai, it was incredibly cheap, but very underdeveloped. It was mostly wilderness. “After I built my house,” he said, “I started planting all kind of plants, first near the house, then expanding to the edges of my total seven rai plot. I concentrated on ‘interesting’ plants I had seen in other tropical countries on my many trips like Brazil; and on things that everybody knows like chocolate (cocoa), coffee, cashew nuts, nutmeg or vanilla, but few people have seen growing, especially in Pattaya.”
The Discovery Garden also includes other, more familiar plants, such as guava, passion fruit, pineapple, avocado and banana. Some of these species come in multiple varieties. Soursop, which Hans prefers to call by its Brazilian name “graviola,” is the fruit of the Annona muricata, a broadleaf, flowering, evergreen tree native to Latin America and parts of Africa. Soursop and its derivative products are consumed around the world, sometimes as a beverage, sometimes as a dessert (including in the form of ice cream and fruit bars).
The graviola fruit is said to contain significant amounts of vitamins C, B1 and B2. Many sites on the Internet promote graviola capsules as a cancer cure, but according to Wikipedia, Cancer Research UK and other organizations they have said that there is no scientific evidence of this. There are many varieties of guava, such as Apple, Strawberry, Yellow-fruited Cherry (aka lemon guava), and Thai maroon guava.
With the help of his assistant, Hans Fritschi shows his PCEC audience the French Banana Stalk, the Soursop, which Hans prefers to call by its Brazilian name “graviola” and the screw pine, more commonly known as “pandanus.”
Achiote is a shrub or small tree originating from the tropical region of the Americas. Hans explained that Central and South American natives originally used the seeds to make red body paint and lipstick. For this reason the shrub is also known as the “lipstick tree.” The Discovery Garden also includes screw pines, more commonly known as “pandanus.” Pandanus leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking. They are also used to make handicrafts. You might expect the sugar apple to look like an apple, but you’d be wrong.
In addition to the plants shown, Hans Fritschi also brought along several other items that he has at his Discovery Garden, such as Apple guava and Butterfly Pea tree (Clitoria racemosa) which his website notes, if you are looking for a fast growing tropical tree that produces shadow quickly this is a good solution.
To learn more about his Discovery Garden, visit his website at http://discovery-garden.org/. On his website, Hans explains how to process the cocoa beans properly and make your own homemade chocolate; see it on http://discovery-garden.org/?p=243.
After the presentation, MC Richard Silverberg brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and called on Roy Albiston to conduct the Open Forum, where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya.
For more information on the PCEC’s many activities, visit their website at www.pcecclub.org.