The tiessa tree is erect and generally no more than 25 ft (8 m) tall, but it may, in favorable situations, reach height of 90 to 100 ft (27-30 m) and the trunk may attain diameter of 3 ft (1 m).
The fruit, extremely variable in form and size, may be nearly round, with or without a pointed apex or curved beak, or may be somewhat oval, ovoid, or spindle-shaped. When unripe the fruit is green-skinned, hard and gummy internally.
Immediately beneath the skin the yellow flesh is relatively firm and mealy with a few fine fibers. Toward the center of the fruit it is softer and more pasty. It has been often likened in texture to the yolk of a hard-boiled egg. The flavor is sweet, more or less musky, and somewhat like that of a baked sweet potato.
The tiessa fruit, widely grown in the country, is not very familiar to consumers although it is a very rich source of vitamin A, carbohydrates and protein. If grown commercially however, financial return will not be immediate. A cumulative net return of P101,426 will only be acquired after 10 years. Tiessa is best grown in backyard orchards or intercrop with fruit crops such as papaya.
This fruit is usually eaten ripe as dessert, or used in preparing sherbet, ice cream and juice. It is a most appropriate ingredient for baby foods.
- There are only two known types of tiessa- one producing round fruit containing 2 to 3 seeds, and the other yielding elongated fruits having a single seed.
- Tiessa should be grown in deep, well-drained, sandy or clay loam soil with enough organic matter. It can thrive well in acidic to neutral soils (pH 4.5 to 7.5). Land elevation from sea level to 2,500 meters are appropriate for growing tiessa. Any type of climate, whether that with heavy rainfall or with pronounced dry season, can result good harvests.
For large farms, thoroughly plowing and harrowing of the land is needed for planting. Small-scale and backyard growing will only require digging holes wide and deep enough for planting materials.
Tiessa can be propagated asexually. It responds well to cleft grafting which involves attaching a scion, which is a mature stem, to rootstock or a rooted seedling. Select a healthy one-year-old rootstock slightly larger than an ordinary lead pencil. Cut this off to a height where active growth is observed. this may be the spot where leaves or buds cluster. Make a vertical V-shaped incision at this portion deep enough to accommodate the scion of another tiessa plant. For a scion, choose a healthy stem of a mature tiessa tree of the same size as the rootstock. Chose one with well-developed buds and cut it 12- 14 cm long. The base of the scion should be cut into a point wedge shape, to be fitted into the cut tip of the rootstock. Insert the scion on the rootstock and cure firmly with a plastic tape or ribbon.
Another means of propagation is through seeds. These come from productive trees. Carefully extract the seeds from the fruits and remove the seedscoats. Sow in a seedbed or any potting material containing sandy loam soil. When the first set of leaves have develop, they are ready for transplanting.
Plant at the onset of the rainy season for better growth. Place the plants a distance of 5 to 6 meters from each other.
- Cultivate the soil at least one meter around the plant using any garden tool. Apply ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) within the first year of growth at the rate of 100 to 200 grams per tree. During the fruiting stage, apply 1/2 kilogram of complete fertilizer (14-14-14) around the tree once before the rainy season, and the another at the end of the rainy season.
Pest and disease control
- Pest that attack the stem, twigs, leaves and shoots should be controlled by spraying Malathion and Diazinon at the manufacture’s recommended dosage. Heavily infested shoots branches should be cut and burned.
- A fungal disease attack tiessa trees causing fruits to drop prematurely. Treat the trees with Cuprox or Cupravit fungicides.
- Three to four years after planting, yellow fruits may be harvested. Asexually propagated trees bear fruits much earlier. Fruiting season of the tiessa tree starts in August and ends in January.
- Harvested fruits fully ripen 3 to 4 days after picking. To hasten their ripening, wash off the fruit latex and apply salt at the fruit base.
- Tiessa are rich in niacin and carotene (provitamin A) and have a fair level of ascorbic acid.
- Latex extracted from the tree in Central America has been used to adulterate chicle. The timber is fine-grained, compact, strong, moderately to very heavy and hard, and valued especially for planks and rafters in construction. The heartwood is grayish-brown to reddish-brown and blends into the sapwood which is somewhat lighter in color. The darker the color, the more resistant to decay.
- A decoction of the astringent bark is taken as a febrifuge in Mexico and applied on skin eruptions in Cuba. A preparation of the seeds has been employed as a remedy for ulcers
Additional info at www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/canistel.html