Barbados Gooseberry Cactus
days to maturity:
plant spacing: 1 plant every 8 square feet, trellised or hanging
sunlight requirements: 8-14 hours
look out for: its got thorns!
harvest notes: spiky cactus vine, make sure to plant it somewhere where it can be spiky and grow freely
This unique tropical succulent fruit goes by many common names: blade apple, leaf cactus, West Indian gooseberry, lemon vine, and gooseberry shrub in Barbados. We have always loved this rare plant and only recently did we find a good source for fresh seed at our neighbors Patch of Heaven Sanctuary who have a large fruiting specimen in their parking lot. This plant is believed to be native to the West Indies, coastal South America and Panama, however its been cultivated in South Florida since around the 40s. Because this plant is a cactus it thrives in poor well draining soil, lots of sun, and it doesn't want wet feet (don't water it too much). The fruits are generally stewed or preserved in sugar or made into jam but they can also be eaten out of hand and are tart, lemony and acidic.
Fun fact: the fleshy leaves of this succulent plant are also edible and are an excellent source of protein and also contain iron, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium in higher levels than spinach.
Before you decide to buy and plant this unique fruit crop make sure you know exactly where you want it, because not only is it spiky which makes it hard to prune & move but it is also very resilient and can be hard to kill if you do ever want to remove it completely.