Gamboge (Garcinia xanthochymus)

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The Gamboge Fruit Tree, scientifically known as Garcinia xanthochymus, is a tropical tree renowned for its strikingly beautiful yellow fruit. This tree can grow to a height of 15 to 20 feet tall, often with a dense, rounded canopy that spreads equally wide. Native to the rainforests of South and Southeast Asia, it thrives in humid, warm climates and is commonly found in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and above. It's definitely doable in Zone 9 with frost protection until established, and will stay a bit smaller.

The leaves of the Gamboge tree are dark green, glossy, and leathery, adding to its visual appeal throughout the year. The flowers are small, with four sepals and four white petals, and are generally borne in clusters. They are known for their sweet, mildly fragrant aroma that attracts pollinators.

The fruit of the Gamboge tree is its most distinctive feature. Typically about the size of a small orange, the fruits are round and smooth with a bright yellow, sometimes orangish skin when ripe. The flesh inside is juicy, fibrous, and intensely tart, making it more popular for its use in culinary applications rather than raw consumption. It is often used in traditional dishes for its sour flavor, in jams, and in the preparation of beverages.

Gamboge trees require well-drained, rich soil and a position in full sun to partial shade. They need regular watering but should not be left in waterlogged soil, which can lead to root rot. In terms of care, the tree is relatively low-maintenance but may require occasional pruning to maintain its shape and remove any dead or diseased branches.

This tree is not only valued for its fruit but also for its medicinal properties; various parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine. The gamboge fruit tree makes a splendid addition to tropical gardens, providing both aesthetic beauty and practical benefits.

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