Ackee (Blighia sapida) is the national fruit of Jamaica as well as a component of the dish – ackee and codfish. Although the ackee is not indigenous to Jamaica, it has remarkable historic associations. Originally, it was imported to the island from West Africa, probably on a slave ship. Now it grows here luxuriantly, producing large quantities of edible fruit each year.
The ackee tree grows up to 15.24m (50ft) under favourable conditions. It bears large red and yellow fruit 7.5 – 10 cm (3-4 in.) long. When ripe these fruits burst into sections revealing shiny black round seeds on top of a yellow aril which is partially edible.
Ackee is derived from the original name Ankye which comes from the Twi language of Ghana. Jamaica is the only place where the fruit is widely eaten. However, it has been introduced into most of the other Caribbean islands (for example, Trinidad, Grenada, Antigua and Barbados), Central America and Florida, where it is known by different names and does not thrive in economic quantities. Jamaican canned ackee is now exported and sold in markets patronized by expatriate Jamaicans. Ackee is a very delicious fruit and when boiled and cooked with seasoning and salt fish or salt pork, it is considered one of Jamaica’s greatest delicacies.