name = Ackee

image_caption = Ackee fruit
regnum = Plantae
unranked_divisio = Angiosperms
unranked_classis = Eudicots
unranked_ordo = Rosids
ordo = Sapindales
familia = Sapindaceae
genus = "Blighia"
species = "B. sapida"
binomial = "Blighia sapida"
binomial_authority = K.D.Koenig|

The Ackee or Akee ("Blighia sapida") is a member of the Sapindaceae (soapberry family), native to tropical West Africa in Cameroon, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. cite web|last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= | date= |url= |title=GRIN/NPGS Taxonomy information |format= |work= |pages= |publisher= | language= |accessdate=2006-06-01 |curly= ]

It is related to the lychee and the longan, and is an evergreen tree that grows about 10 metres tall, with a short trunk and a dense crown. The leaves are pinnate,cite book | first= | last= | authorlink= | coauthors=Vinken Pierre; Bruyn GW | year=1995 | title=Intoxications of the Nervous System | edition= | publisher=Elsevier Science B.V. | location=Amsterdam, Netherlands | id=ISBN 0-444-81284-9 ] leathery, compound, 15–30 centimetres long, with 6–10 elliptical obovate-oblong leaflets. Each leaflet is 8–12 centimetres long and 5–8 centimetres broad.

The flowers are unisexual and fragrant. They have five petals, are greenish-whitecite book | first=Robert | last=Riffle | authorlink= | coauthors= | year=1998 | title=The Tropical Look | edition= | publisher= Timber Press| location= | id=ISBN 0-88192-422-9 ] and bloom during warm months.cite book | first=Kristen | last=Llamas | authorlink= | coauthors= | year=2003 | title=Tropical Flowering Plants: A Guide to Identification and Cultivation | edition= | publisher= Timber Press | location= | id=ISBN 0-88192-585-3 ] The fruit is pear-shaped. When it ripens, it turns from green to a bright red to yellow-orange, and splits open to reveal three large, shiny black seeds, surrounded by soft, creamy or spongy, white to yellow flesh—arilli.The fruit typically weighs 100–200 grams.

The scientific name honours Captain William Bligh who took the fruit from Jamaica to England in 1793 and introduced it to science. The fruit was imported to Jamaica from West Africa (probably on a slave ship) before 1778.cite web | author= | year=| title=This is Jamaica | format=HTML | work=National Symbols of Jamaica | url= | accessdate=2006-06-04] Since then it has become a major feature of various Caribbean cuisines, and is also cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas elsewhere around the world. The term 'ackee' originated from the Twi language.cite book | first=Allan | last=Metcalf | authorlink= | coauthors= | year=1999 | title=The World in So Many Words | edition= | publisher= | location= | id=ISBN 0-395-95920-9 ] Other names and variant spellings include Ackee, Akee, akee apple, Achee, or "vegetable brain".

Cultivation and uses

Although native to West Africa, consumption of ackee for food takes place mainly in Jamaican cuisine. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and "ackee and saltfish" is the national dish.

Ackee was first introduced to Jamaica and later to Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Barbados and others. It was later introduced to Florida in the United States.

The oil of the ackee arils contains many important nutrients, especially fatty acids. Linoleic, palmitic and stearic acids are the primary fatty acids found in the fruit.cite web | author= | year=| title=Jamaican Ackee | format= | work=| url= | accessdate=2006-06-02] Ackee oil makes an important contribution to the diet of many Jamaicans.

The dried seeds, fruit bark and leaves are used medicinally. cite web|last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= | date= |url= |title=Mansfeld's World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops |format= |work= |pages= |publisher= | language=english |accessdate=2006-06-01 |curly= ] The fruit is used to produce soap in some parts of Africa. It is also used as a fish poison.cite book | first=James | last=Duke | authorlink= | coauthors=Mary Jo Bogenschutz-Godwin, Judi Ducellier, Duke A Duke | year=2002 | title=Handbook of Medicinal Herbs | edition= | publisher= | location= | id=ISBN 0-8493-1284-1 ]

Preparing Ackees for consumption

The fruit of the Ackee is not edible in its entirety. Only the inner, fleshy yellow arils are consumed. The shiny black seeds at the tips of the arils, and the bright red pod enclosing 3 or 4 arils are discarded. Ackees must be harvested, prepared and cooked properly. Ackee pods should be allowed to ripen and open naturally on the tree before picking. Prior to cooking, the ackee arils must be cleaned, washed, boiled and the water discarded: unripe ackees and the inner red tissue of the ripe ackee arils contain potent alkaloid toxins (Hypoglycins A and B) which can produce a syndrome of vomiting, seizures and fatal hypoglycemia known as Jamaican vomiting sickness. Though it may be poisonous when improperly prepared, ackee has high nutritional value and is rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin A, zinc, and protein. They also make delicious fare when sauteed with onions, tomatoes and salted codfish in the Jamaican national dish and perennial dinner favorite "ackee and saltfish".

Biochemistry of Ackee poisoning

The unripened or inedible portions of the fruit contain the toxins hypoglycin A and hypoglycin B. Hypoglycin A is found in both the seeds and the arilli, while hypoglycin B is found only in the seeds. Hypoglycin is converted in the body to methylenecyclopropyl acetic acid (MCPA). Hypoglycin and MCPA are both toxic. MCPA inhibits several enzymes involved in the breakdown of acyl CoA compounds. Hypoglycin binds irreversibly to coenzyme A, carnitine and carnitine acyltransferases I and IIcite book | first= Parveen J.| last= Kumar | authorlink= | coauthors= | year=2006 | title= Clinial Medicine | edition= 5| publisher=Saunders (W.B.) Co Ltd | location= | id=ISBN 978-0702025792 ] reducing their bioavailability and consequently inhibiting beta oxidation of fatty acids. Beta oxidation normally provides the body with ATP, NADH and acetyl CoA which is used to supplement the energy produced by glycolysis. Glucose stores are consequently depleted leading to hypoglycemia.cite book | first= Vishwanath | last= SarDesai | title=Introduction to Clinical Nutrition | publisher=Marcel Dekker Inc. | location=New York | year=2003 | id=ISBN 0-8247-4093-9]

Economic importance

The ackee fruit is canned and is a major export product in Jamaica. In 2005 the ackee industry was valued at $400 million in the island.cite web | title=Viable Ackee Industry must be Protected- BSJ Inspector | work= | url= | accessdate=2006-06-02] The importing of canned ackee into the U.S. has at times been restricted due to unripe ackee arilli being included. However, it is currently allowed, provided that the amount of hypoglycin present meets the standards of the Food and Drug Administration.In 2005 the first commercial shipments of canned ackee from Haiti were approved by the US-FDA for shipment to the US market. [ [ IMPORT ALERT IA2111 ] ] .

The canning plant in Port-au-Prince is supplied with fruit from three commercial orchards on the outskirts of the city.


External links

* [ The Ackee Fruit (Blighia Sapida) and its Associated Toxic Effects] - a review from the Science Creative Quarterly
* [ The West Indian Dictionary] : Showing the two types of "Ackees" in the Caribbean region.
* [ Fruits of Warm Climates: Ackee]
* [ Blighia sapida (Sapindaceae)]
* [ Cuisine of Jamaica]
* [ Some great ackee and saltfish Jamaican Recipes]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • ackee — n. 1. 1 red pear shaped tropical fruit with poisonous seeds; its flesh is poisonous when unripe or overripe. Syn: akee [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ackee — or akee [ak′ē, a kē′] n. [< ?] 1. a W African tree (Blighia sapida) of the soapberry family, widely grown in the tropics 2. its fruit, poisonous if not ripe, and containing large, black seeds with fleshy, white arils 3. a dish made by cooking… …   English World dictionary

  • ackee — UK [ˈækɪ] / US noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms ackee : singular ackee plural ackees a red fruit from West Africa and the Caribbean that is eaten as a vegetable and grows on an ackee tree. It is poisonous until it is ripe (= has grown to… …   English dictionary

  • ackee — I Jamaican Slang Glossary African fruit introduced in Jamaica in 17 ; is Jamaicas national fruit and is the second main ingredient of Jamaica’s national dish combination, ackee and saltfish. II Rasta Dictionary n African food tree introduced… …   English dialects glossary

  • ackee — n. evergreen tree native to tropical western Africa (grown in the Caribbean region, Florida and Hawaii); red fruit of the ackee tree shaped like a pear with poisonous seeds and which flesh is edible only when ripe (toxic when unripe or overripe) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • ackee — [ aki] (also akee) noun 1》 a tropical West African tree which is cultivated for its fruit. [Blighia sapida.] 2》 the fruit of the ackee, which is poisonous until fully ripe. Origin C18: from Kru ākee …   English new terms dictionary

  • ackee — kriaušinė bligija statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Sapindinių šeimos vaisinis, vaistinis nuodingas augalas (Blighia sapida), paplitęs Afrikoje. Naudojamas gėrimams gaminti. atitikmenys: lot. Blighia sapida; Cupania sapida angl. ackee; akee;… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • ackee — also akee noun Etymology: origin unknown Date: 1794 the fruit of an African tree (Blighia sapida) of the soapberry family grown in the Caribbean area, Florida, and Hawaii for its white or yellowish fleshy aril that is edible when ripe but is… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • ackee — /euh kee /, n. akee. * * * …   Universalium

  • ackee — noun Variant form of akee …   Wiktionary

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