Some facts ab out gac, the “best” tropical fruit, you may want to know
Gac: It is very common to every Vietnamese to see this vine and fruit, and one of the most common product made with gac as component to have the yellow color, it's xôi gấc. But few of us know that gac is nearly a uncomparable source of some vital nutritions, as introduced below.
Gac fruit is rich in the antioxidants beta-carotene, lycopene (seventy times more than in tomatoes), and zeaxanthin. It contains the highest concentration of beta carotene of any known fruit or vegetable (ten times as much as carrots).
To make it easy for you to know how high these precious nutritious sources are, below are some figure to compare.
|Nutrition 1||Nutrition 2|
It is not surprised when it is sometimes called the “super-foods” based on its high content of of lycopene and beta-carotene. Famous nutritious fruits such as tomato, papaya, grapefruit, cabage, .. have little meaning when compare to gac!
Gac is dioecious vine plant. This means you have to plant several vines to make sure that the female vine can be pollinated with the pollen from male flowers. You can easily differentiate the male flower from the female flower as shown in the picture below.
|Male flower||Female flower|
About 3 months after growing from seed the first flowers appear. These can be pollinated by insects or manually, and is hardly by wind. This means that man's intervention to help them in pollination is very important factor.
The fruit will mature after about 5 months1, and each vine can give you 30 to 60 fruit in a year depending to a particular vine such as its age, climate etc.
And my gac vines
I got my gac at least 2 years before when the fruits of a gac grown at the back of Ms Cam's dormitory (Ms Cam is now retired) were ripe and dropped. I picked some seeds from these, and brought home to try if I could grow it. At least 2 vines grew from these seeds, and I planted them in my gardens that I had just bought. However due to my neglect, the vines had no supports and could not give any fruit though sometimes I noticed its many flowers.
Several months ago my wife got some passion fruit cuttings. She asked me to setup some frame so that they could limb on, which I did. Then I transferred my gac vines from their old place where there was not any thing to climb on to this new frame. Just after several weeks they climb more than 4 meters, and I saw first flowers to grow out.. Will wait to see if these are male or female flowers!
Two male gac vines
When my gac vine bigger and bigger, I can see many flowers appear. I compared them with the one shown at the pictures I got and put at the upper part of this writing. I see the shape of the flowers from my gac look quite not like the male or the female flowers in shape; I can say their shape somewhat look like the male, somewhat look like the femaie. I cannot tell that it is the male or female yet! This urges me to check more pictures of gac posted on the internet. I finally found the two pictures that can tell us very clearly what from what. I must say that when we look them from the sides, the female flower will show very clear the fruit base with the flower on the tip as the pictures belows.
|Male flower||A female flower|
And from these two pictures I checked again the flowers of my two gac vines, and found that both 2 are male gac vines. This made me disappointed and think of grafting them with female gac.... Further reading I know that for female, it has both male and female flowers, and male flowers always appear first, then about a week later the females flowers will appear. For the male gac vine there is only one type of flower: the male flowers. You can never have any fruit from this type of vine, and the only way you can do to get it to bear fruit is to graft a female scion onto the male rootstock. But before I have any decision, it's better for me to wait for some more time more. Who know if there's one of these to be female vine???
1. In an experiment made by an Australia organization (Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation: Assessing the Potential for a Gac (Cochinchin gourd) Industry in Australia. RIRDC Publication No. 13/060, July 2013), it takes only 66 days from pollination to harvest (ripe), or roughly more than 2 months only.