Akee (Blighia sapida KD Koenig). More widely known for its poisonous properties than as an edible fruit, the akee, Blighia sapida K. Konig (syn. Cupania sapida Voigt.) Of the Sapindaceae family , sometimes called ackee, akee apples, plant brain , brain tree, stick de seso ( Cuba ); vegetable egg and egg fruit ( Guatemala and Panama ); egg tree and red pear (Mexico); merey del diablo ( Venezuela ); well know me or bread and cheese ( Colombia); aká ( Costa Rica ).

In Portuguese , it is Castanha or castanheiro from Africa . In French , it is arbre fricassá or arbre fricasser ( Haiti ); yeux de crabe or ris de veau (Martinique). In Suriname it is known as akie. On the Ivory Coast of West Africa , it is called kaka or finzan; in the Sudan, pretend. Elsewhere in Africa it is generally known as akye, akyen, or ishin, although it has other dialect names. In the timber trade , timber is traded as Achin.


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  • 1 Taxonomy
    • 1 Scientific name
      • 1.1 Authors
    • 2 Synonymy
    • 3 Common name
  • 2 Description of the plant
    • 1 Sheets
    • 2 Flowers
    • 3 Fruit
  • 3 Origin and distribution
  • 4 Climate
  • 5 Floor
  • 6 Propagation and culture
  • 7 Season
  • 8 Uses as food
    • 1 Nutritional value
  • 9 Toxicity
  • 10 Other uses
    • 1 Fruit
    • 2 Flowers
    • 3 Bark
    • 4 Wood
  • 11 Medicinal uses
  • 12 See also
  • 13 References
  • 14 Sources


Scientific name

  • Blighia sapida KD Koenig

Blighia sapida

[1] [2] [3]


  • Koenig, Karl Dietrich Eberhard
  • Posted in: Annals of Botany 2: 571–574, t. 16-17. 1806. [4]


  • Lone Akea Stokes
  • Tussac African Akeesia
  • Cupania akeesia Cambess. ex Spach
  • Cupania sapida (KDKoenig) Oken
  • Sapindus obovatus Wight & Arn. [5]

Common name

Akee, ackee, akee apples, brain plant, brain tree, palo de seso ( Cuba ); vegetable egg and egg fruit ( Guatemala and Panama ); arbor of the egg and red pear ( Mexico ); merey del diablo ( Venezuela ); it tastes good to me or bread and cheese ( Colombia ); aká ( Costa Rica ).

Description of the plant


The tree reaches 33 to 40 feet (10-12 m), usually with a short trunk 6 feet (1.8 m) in circumference, and a dense crown of branches. Its bark is gray and almost smooth.


The evergreen foliage (rarely deciduous) consists of alternate, compound, obovate-oblong leaves 3 to 5 pairs 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) long, rounded at the base; bright green on the upper surface, paler and slightly hairy in the veins on the lower one.


Bisexual with male flower clusters 3 to 7 inches (7.5-17.5 cm) long, fragrant, 5 petals, white, and hairy.


The fruit is pear-shaped, leathery, more or less yellow or light scarlet, 2 3/4 to 4 inches (7-10 cm) long and shiny. When fully ripe, it opens up and reveals 3 fleshy creamy parts (arils) with a nutty flavor . Unripe or green fruit is toxic, it can only be consumed when cooked or ripe (this is when the fruit is opened). Inside it generally has 3 black seeds, smooth, shiny and almost round.

Origin and distribution

Akee is indigenous to the forests of the Ivory Coast and Gold Coast of tropical West Africa where it is eaten little but several parts have domestic uses. In Ghana , flowering and fruiting is admired as an ornamental tree and planted in villages along streets and as a shade medium.

The akee was brought to Jamaica in 1793 by the famous Captain Bligh to provide food for the slaves. It was quickly adopted and converted to a tree commonly grown in patios and along roadsides and, to some extent, naturalized. The aril is still a favorite food on the island and the fruit is featured in one of the calipsos despite the associated health risks. Canned arils are exported to the United Kingdom where it is consumed by Jamaican immigrants. Importation into the United States has been banned by the Administration of Drug Food and (Food and Drug Administration).

The akee was also planted in Haiti and Trinidad and some other islands in the West Indies and the Bahamas and was apparently brought by slaves from Jamaica to Panama and the Atlantic Coast of Guatemala and Costa Rica . In 1900 it was banned in Trinidad after having caused some deaths.

There are trees scattered in Suriname , Venezuela , Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil , it maintains a good number of curiosities in South Florida, and some are planted around Calcutta, India . The tree has been tested in the warm, humid climate of Guyana and Malaysia, but has not survived. At Lamao in the Philippines for the first time it paid off in 1919 .


The akee tree is tropical to subtropical; It flourishes from sea level to a height of 3,000 feet (900 m) in Jamaica. It does not produce fruits in Guatemala . Young trees in South Florida have died from the winter cold, but mature trees have survived serious injuries for short periods of time at 26 ° F (-3.33 ° C).


The tree grows well in the sandy, limestone terrain of southern Florida and the Bahamas , but it grows faster and better in fertile soil.

Propagation and culture

Trees are grown from seed or by gutter grafting, and show very little variability. In Europe in greenhouses, mature stem cuttings are planted in sand or a mixture of peat and clay until they take root. In hot climates, the tree grows fast and requires little cultural attention, in this case its production begins at 4 years.


There is some flowering and fruiting throughout the year in Jamaica . In Florida , flowers appear in spring and fruit appear in mid-summer, and there may be a flowering period in the fall. In the Bahamas , there are 2 different harvests a year, one from February to April and the second from July to October.

Food uses

Uses of Akee as food

To use the akee, it is necessary to open the whole or at least part of the fruit, before separating it from the tree. When the fruit has “yawned”, the seeds are discarded and the arils, still fresh and firm, are subjected to steam or boiling water with salt or milk, then lightly fried in butter and really delicious. In Jamaica they are often cooked with cod, onions, and tomatoes. After parboiling, they are added to a beef or pork stew with salt, thyme and other seasonings. Sometimes it is eaten with curry and rice . They are used, not only at home, but also in hotel restaurants and other restaurants. In Africa , they can be eaten raw or in soup, or after frying in oil.

Nutritional value

  • Humidity60 g
  • Protein75 g
  • Fat78 g
  • Fiber45 g
  • Carbohydrates55 g
  • Ash 1.87 g
  • Calcium83 mg
  • Phosphorus98 mg
  • Iron52 mg
  • Carotene—-
  • Thiamine10 mg
  • Riboflavin18 mg
  • Niacin74 mg
  • Ascorbic Acid65 mg


Akee’s toxicity has long been misinterpreted and is believed to reside in the membranes that connect aryl to the body. Its effects have been the subject of clinical and chemical studies since [1940]], and it is now known that immature aryl can contain hypoglycin, a-amino-B – (2-methylenecyclopropyl) and propionic acid . The toxic properties of these compounds are largely dissipated by the effect of light when the fruit is opened. The seeds are poisonous. They contain hypoglycin and its derivatives y-glutamyl, and glutamyl-La-amino-B – (2-methylene cyclopropyl) propionic acid, formerly called hypoglycin B.

In feeding experiments at the University of Miami, Dr. Edward Larson found that the membranes of already opened fruits were harmless; rabbits fed green arils died; the rats refused to eat and had to be force-fed to be fatally poisoned. Squirrels cut holes in green fruits to consume the immature arils but leave the seeds intact.

Akee poisoning in humans is manifested by vomiting attacks, sometimes repeated, without diarrhea (called “vomiting disease” in Jamaica ), followed by drowsiness, seizures, coma, and most often death. Due to the hypoglycemic effects, the administration of sugar is recommended and gives useful results.

Most cases occur in the winter in Jamaica when 30% to 50% of the arils are still small, and the seeds are underdeveloped, which is often not evident on the outside of the fruit. Ingesting these types of arils, raw or cooked, is dangerous. For more information on akee toxicity, see Kean, Hypoglycin ( 1975 ), and Morton, Forensic Medicine , vol. III, Chap. III, chap. 71 ( 1977 ). 71 ( 1977 ).

Other uses


In West Africa , green fruit that foams in water is used for money laundering. The crushed fruits are used as fish poison. The seeds due to their oil content, as well as the burnt wrapper, due to their potassium content, are used for soap making.


In Cuba , an extract of the flowers is appreciated as a colony.


In Costa de Oro , a mixture of powdered hot earth crust and peppers is rubbed into the body as a stimulant.


The sapwood of the wood is white or green-brown in color. The heartwood is reddish brown, hard, coarse-grained, durable, immune to termites. It is used locally for construction and as pilings for railway sleepers. It is also usual in oars, and barrels.

Medical uses

In Brazil, repeated small doses of an aqueous extract from the seeds has been administered to expel parasites. Treatment is followed by a purgative saline or oily solution. The mixture of mature Cuban arils with sugar and cinnamon is used as a febrifuge and as a treatment for dysentery. In Ivory Coast , the bark is mixed with hot spices in an ointment applied to relieve pain.

The new crushed foliage is applied to the forehead to relieve headache pain. The leaves, crushed with salt, are applied to ulcers. The leaf juice is used as eye drops in ophthalmology for conjunctivitis. In Colombia , the leaves and bark are considered stomatal. There are several preparations for the treatment of epilepsy and yellow fever .


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