Sunday, June 6, 2010

Non Native Trees: Bad Macopa Superstition

One of the favorite trees to plant in any Pinoy backyard is macopa. Some Pinoys believe that it is quite lucky to plant a macopa in front of the house because unlike most fruiting trees, the macopa fruit does not undergo a sour stage. The fruit goes from bland to semi sweet as it ripens. Thus superstition would follow that macopa would not cast any sour ill-effects to family relations within the household. As a gardener I used to favor planting macopa in any garden because of the bright red fruits, until I learned it is not a Philippine native.

Macopa or Syzygium samarangense is a native of Malaysia. Some literature would claim that it is also native to the Philippines, but field botanists say otherwise as it could not be found wild in our forests. But macopa has long been naturalized in our country to the point that some escaped cultivation. It could be found almost in all islands, growing in areas close to communites and civilization.

One macopa superstition I heard was told to me by a friend. He says that macopa trees when planted in front of the household could inhibit the family members to marry relating his own anecdote. He has 7 other siblings and they all lived in their ancestral house which had 2 macopa trees standing flanking the gate. An acquaintance once told their mom that they should cut off the macopas as it would prevent her offsprings to marry. And indeed no one among the 8 siblings got married. Then in a typhoon, one of the two macopas was fallen. Then after, 4 of the 8 siblings amazingly made their trip down the marital aisle. To date the surviving tree still stands in front of their property...and the remaining 4 still remains unwed.

So what could be a better alternative to plant in lieu of the macopa? The country is the epicenter of Syzygium occurence. We are said to have about 200 species of Syzygium which some are much more attractive than macopa. It is about time that we start knowing these macopa relatives and explore their viability in garden use.

10 comments:

Apicio said...

It seems to me that it is well and good to differentiate a non-native tree if say it came from other parts of the world that are not our immediate SE Asian neighbors. It is splitting hair to distinguish Philippine native species from those growing in Indonesia and Malaysia. The only thing that sets us apart from them is our political history. Same terrain, essentially the same climatic system, in fact the same people. It becomes truly problematic and dubious if the introduction happened before pre-recorded history.

metscaper said...

It is a point of discussion. Problem is the real natives are being forgotten and they are the ones fitted into the natural ecosystem. But even for documentation purposes it would be beneficial to establish what is native and not. Sure would be ideal to plant the true natives rather than introduced. :)

jun said...

have you heard the plant called "tambis?" my relatives back in capiz used to serve it to us when we visit them. I swear that it is not makopa since it is smaller and slightly lighter in color (more like pinkish). would it be possible for it to be a native species?

Apicio said...

There have been pretty interesting posts (for passionate amateurs) and exchange of comments about this subject in the Market Manila blog. Here are the links: There are actually more if you search tambis or makopa:

http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/tambis-makopa-side-by-side
http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/makopa-curacao-or-malay-apple

kagbalete said...

Has anybody ever heard of the tree called dambo? The fruit looks like a macopa but it is larger and has a sweet, tarty taste. The tree is big, about the size of a mango tree...

belle fout said...

dog can eat a macopa fruits?please answer thanks :)

DRAKO2003 said...

The photo gallery here is what we call "TAMBIS"in Tetuan, Zamboanga City, Philippines. Its skin is thinner than the "MACOPA" that I know. My family have both of these sweet fruit trees in the old ancestral home. I sure can bet that they are two botanically different plants,although they may be genetically closely related.It is worth mentioning here,I suppose,that my sweet childhood memories,too, revolved much around these magnificent fruit trees....!

Gerry Alanguilan said...

Nonsense. We have had two macopa trees in our backyard ever since I was a child and both me and my brother are married now.

Grace Monte de Ramos said...

What Tagalogs call macopa is tambis in the Visayas and Mindanao. This is tambis, with skin that's lighter in color and a more cottony flesh. Macopa,while basically of the same shape as tambis, has a deeper crimson skin, denser flesh, and more tart taste.

hou said...

Problem is the real natives are being forgotten and they are the ones fitted into the natural ecosystem.
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