Worldbuilding Wednesday 1/9/19: Fantasy Fruits

Buddha’s Hand, a relative of the citrus fruits

To come up with some exotic fruit for a fantasy kingdom it is not necessary to look beyond this world. The strange-looking fruit above, known as a Buddha’s Hand, is a cultivar (a genetic variant encouraged by fruit growers) of the citron tree, and in the same general family as oranges and limes. It looks a bit like a lemon that has exploded. It contains little pulp or juice, but the skin is highly fragrant and can be used to make candy. You’ll probably never see it in your local supermarket, but it may occasionally be found in specialty Asian grocers.

Other odd, exotic fruits may be found closer to home. Take the Osage Orange. Never heard of it? It’s a native of North America that was once restricted to East Texas. When English colonizers discovered it (the Native Americans, of course, already knew of its uses) it was decided to be an exceptionally nifty tree for wood and landscaping use and thus disseminated all over the US. The fruit is large, green, and wrinkled, with a dry texture and cucumber-like flavor. It doesn’t taste too good to modern humans or livestock, but in the Pleistocene, some scientists say, it was very appealing to the fauna of the era like ground sloths and woolly rhinos.

If real-life examples are too mundane for you, here are some randomgen ideas.

Fantasy Fruits

Thurzle: A scarlet fruit that grows only in the tropics. It has a  squat, almost lenticular shape and its skin is heavily creased. The flesh is sweet and crunchy. The inside is studded with small black seeds, giving it a slightly gritty quality. Thulze must be picked off the tree; by the time it falls, it has begun to rot.

Jarten: A small, oval-shaped melon with ridged skin raised in a hexagonal patten. Its flesh is a dull orange in color and very fibrous. When cooked, the fibers dissolve and form a thick pudding.

Servia: A globe-shaped melon with a  green rind and pale interior spotted with pink seeds. The flesh is stringy but very sweet.

Mafakla nut: Medium-sized, round, smooth nuts that grow on dense bushes in the evergreen rain forest. The shell of the nut is tan with beige speckles, and is very hard. The nut itself has a cheesy, sour taste. It is not eaten on its own, but prepared with other foods.

Sangra: A long, tapered citrus fruit with yellow-green, heavily wrinkled skin. On the tree, it is covered with a papery husk. The flesh is orange and has a sweet, slightly salty flavor.

Jidnaberry: Smooth-skinned, reddish-purple berries produced on a low bush in late summer. The berries are tart, and need sweetening if eaten raw. They are full of vitamin C. They are often dried and pounded into fruit leather with the addition of some honey. Jidnaberry is common in woodlands.

Zhaczva: A small, round pine cone that is edible when green.  Its taste is like spiced, sugared rosemary.

Vilsang: A pear-shaped, heavy fruit grown on a relative of the ginkgo tree. It is sweet with taste of lemon and lime combined, though it is not a citrus fruit. Its thin skin is a shiny pale gold in color. It is most prized when fully ripe as it takes on a soft, custard-like texture.

Cendhaz: A large oblong melon with a tough rind that hides a sweet, refreshing interior. Cendhaz are usually red with irregular white stripes. The flesh is pink. Some have been known to reach 30 pounds in weight.

Tulanj: A hard-fleshed tree fruit that ripens in late fall. Tulanj has brown, hairy skin and a pale orange interior concealing a single large seed.

Dragon’s Brain: A globular, wrinkled fruit with a noxious odor that disappears when it is soaked in vinegar. It is usually dark green in color. It grows on a mountain cactus.

Rujujia: A large tropical nut with a reddish-orange shell that must be sliced open with a machete. Its flesh is oily and dense. The nuts grow in clusters and fall from the tree when they are ripe.

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