10 Aug2005

Mabolo / Kamagong

by Marketman

Mabolo or Kamagong is indigenous to the Philippine archipelago. amab4So local, in fact, that it doesn’t really have an English name, though some literature has referred to it as a “velvet apple” or in India, as a “peach bloom.” Mabolo (Diospyros blancoi A. DC.) is a member of the Edenaceae family and thrives in low and medium level rain forests in the Philippines. Today it is often planted by roadsides for their shade or as an ornamental plant in some gardens. It is a handsome tree with lush foliage. The fruit has a stunning red velvety feel or fuzz that is brilliant to look at; however, it does come with a pungent aroma that many might find off-putting. I had never eaten or come close to a Mabolo before so when I spotted dozens of brilliant red fruit at a Batangas roadside stand last week I thought I should buy some and learn more about this fruit.

I was simply unprepared for the smell… purchased on the same trip as the Jackfruit or Langka of amab2earlier posts, this fruit let off a “ripe cheese” aroma that would make some a little car sick. It seems the smell emanates from the skin and not the pulp of the fruit. An almost perfect sphere, the red velvety skin is similar to that of the fuzzy skin on a firm peach. Apparently Mabolo can also come in a yellowish brown variety though the pulp is similar. Inside is a cream colored pulp with a consistency more akin to a sandy or cottony apple but with a flavor that is reminiscent of bananas and apples mixed together. It can have a few seeds or occasionally it is seedless. I was not a convert; I don’t have to give this another try for another 40 years…

The fruit has been introduced to Indonesia and Malaysia and in the late 1800’s made its way to India. amab3Seeds were also sent to the U.S. and the plant has been successfully raised in Florida, Hawaii and other warm areas though it was never raised commercially. Though I have very little knowledge and experience with this fruit, I gather it is yet another of those backyard fruits that others may have stronger childhood memories of. To serve, peel the fruit and stick it in the fridge for 3-4 hours. The smell will have mostly disappeared (as it is in the skin) and you can enjoy the chilled pulp. Most people who consume this fruit do so when it has ripened and it’s flesh is cut into wedges or scooped out with a small spoon. I am curious to see if many Marketmanila readers are fond of this fruit…



  1. suzette says:

    looks like sweet potato in the outside and santol in the inside… have not tried this… maybe some other time :)

    Aug 10, 2005 | 2:08 pm


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  3. Ann says:

    i like mabolo since childhood, i remember asking my mother all the time to bring me some from the market, or from the neighbor having a large tree from their backyard. As a kid i like looking up on this tree with red fruit on it (‘coz it looks like apple). Few people may like the taste, but for me it’s delicious, like a fresh peach. sadly it’s been a long since i last had a taste of this fruit and i kinda’ miss it just looking at your picture MM! I’ll sure have this on my vacation in Nov (if it still in season)…

    Aug 10, 2005 | 2:29 pm

  4. Maricel says:

    Yuck!!!! The smell really is off putting, the texture so so, the taste, something I will not miss in a million years. We have a seedless version of the mabolo in our yard. Nice tree but only my Mom and Dad eat the fruit although they are not fond of it either. My sisters and I stay away from it and the only reaction it gets from us is a wrinkled nose.

    Mostly the fruits are given away. I think people just ask for it because it is a novelty since mabolos are hard to come by these days and some of them have never actually seen a mabolo. There are a few however who honestly like the fruit.

    Aug 10, 2005 | 3:50 pm

  5. Karen says:

    Another mabolo lover checking in! We call it talang in Kapampangan. I think you may have gotten the variety with large seeds and relatively thin flesh. There is another with very fleshy and sweet fruits, as sweet as the best atis (just approximating the sweetness, not the taste). There are some varieties that make the tongue itch too.

    Try it again, Marketman! You might chance upon a good one. They’re relatively rare nowadays too.

    Aug 10, 2005 | 4:20 pm

  6. fried-neurons says:

    Wow. I never knew mabolo/kamagong produced edible fruit. I always just thought of it as a tree. Keep up the good work with these informative pieces! I like learning new things.

    Aug 10, 2005 | 6:16 pm

  7. karen says:

    wow, i used to eat mabolo fresh off of our mabolo tree when i was a kid. i don’t remember the stinky smell the fruit had, but i can remember i liked eating them. we used to have a mabolo tree at our home in san juan (near mandaluyong), and i really loved that old thing. It was such an old tree that it was several stories high – about as high as a 5 or 6-storey building. The trunk was SO huge!! A few years after my dad sold our home, that’s I found out that mabolo came from kamagong trees! We went to visit the lot to see if the tree is still there…but it was gone :( I suppose the people who bought the house knew how valuable the wood is. The trunk would have been big enough to make dinner tables good for 12 people or so.

    Aug 10, 2005 | 8:24 pm

  8. Anne says:

    Indeed it has strong childhood memories. Of what i remember, my mom buy this because of the skin. We do ate the pulp. But as mentioned my mom keep the skin because of the pungent scent of it. I don’t know how effective it was but it keeps the bug off “SUROT” from beddings at that time. Sounds ridiculous but that’s was my impression about “talang” or mabolo. What can you say MM readers?

    Aug 10, 2005 | 11:04 pm

  9. Marketman says:

    If I were a surot (bedbug) I would move house if I had to smell the skin for too long…heehee.

    Aug 11, 2005 | 6:59 am

  10. lee says:

    tastes like a combination of apples, bananas, traces of onions maybe… weird tasting fruit

    Aug 11, 2005 | 9:13 am

  11. butch says:

    nothing really great. i tried it a few times when i was a kid out of curiousity. the fruit was mentioned being a favorite of jose rizal.

    Aug 11, 2005 | 11:16 am

  12. Bubut says:

    i love that fruit, especially the yellowish brown variety w/c has no seed and taste sweeter than the red one.

    Aug 11, 2005 | 1:21 pm

  13. dodi says:

    Makati ang skin!I remember playing with the abundant fruits from the trees in our street and my playmates would skin the fruits and spread it to the others, nasty no? That’s what I remember, the bland taste, the itchiness and the spanking we get!!!

    Aug 12, 2005 | 4:13 pm

  14. Michael says:

    This is the first time I’ve seen a mabolo! Thanks MarketMan. I’ll try to remember to taste some when I go back home. These posts really make me regret not being able to visit long enough to sample all our seasonal fruits. The last time I was craving for some atis and starapple but, unfortunately, they were not in season. We had to go all the way to Quezon Province to get atis.

    Aug 28, 2005 | 4:06 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    Michael and other foreign based readers… I feature fruit that is in season, so before your next trip home look up my archives by month and you should have a good idea of what you can expect in the markets. The last three months have been a bumper crop of great summer tropical fruits…

    Aug 28, 2005 | 4:12 pm

  16. Mark says:

    Good day,

    FYI, you can purchase kamagong seedlings at Manila Environmetal Seedling Bank something. It is at the corner of EDSA-Quezon Ave. next to what i beleive to be a bus terminal. Ask around a bit and you’ll find it. Fruiting can occur from 5 to 7 years from planting i hear. i bought 3 for P20 each myself.

    Jul 27, 2006 | 1:01 am

  17. rene says:

    the best aphrodisiac fruit in town. try it you’ll like it…

    Oct 27, 2006 | 10:15 am

  18. rene says:

    where can I order in volume?…I can sell this fast in Pasadena

    Oct 27, 2006 | 10:16 am

  19. Joy says:

    interesting fruit. 1st time to know bout it. thanks MM.

    Mar 1, 2007 | 8:43 pm

  20. Mabolopie GUY says:

    Whatis the range of the price of Mabolo in the Market?Do they sell it by kilos or by piece?

    Mar 10, 2007 | 9:38 pm

  21. Nelson says:

    This fruit is my Dad’s favorite. He claimed this fruit makes him sexualy active. Unbelievable but he got 13 kids! Go figure that out. :)

    May 8, 2007 | 12:12 am

  22. sansindio says:

    Mabolo tree is not only useful for its shade & fruit but the
    wood is higly priced because it is used as grip for ornamental
    knives in the philippines, it is used for grip or handle of custome made philippine pistols and revolvers in fact some of the vintage COLT 45 pistols of law enforcement personnel and Philippine shooting club members were made of mabolo wood (known locally as kamagong).

    It is known for its red sapwood and black heartwood. It is the ebony in the philippines.

    It is native in the Philippines, in fact it was used by known MACTAN CHIETAIN LAPULAPU to defend MACTAN ISLAND during the Battle of Mactan.

    Some scholars & historian believed that this wood was used by LAPULAPU to kill Magellan.

    Its specific gravity is 1.2, making its inclusion as one of the iron wood in the world.

    Oct 1, 2007 | 8:53 am

  23. lucita ramos says:

    mabolo,kasi nga marami syang bulo sa fruits nya,well one of my childhood memories!

    Apr 6, 2008 | 10:15 pm

  24. mike says:

    Mabango para sa akin ang mabolo at masarap pa. Bakit parang ayaw na iba. He! he! kanya kanyang orientation at preferences lang yan. It’s a perfect snack during fishing.

    May 6, 2008 | 12:23 pm

  25. Gil says:

    I brought home this morning 3 pcs of mabolo from a roadside store in Tagaytay. My wife got interested to this fruit as we dropby the store, she said has never tasted one in her entire life, though we came from a place that has lots of it, in Bicol. Surprisingly, one of our home bodies said ” wow, kamagong, sarap nyan a!” muntik na sumakit tyan ko katatawa, akalain mo kamagong daw kinakain, eh super tigas na kahoy yon!baka meron syang jaws-like teeth…he-he-he, anyways, that’s the difference, the tree is called kamagong or camagong and the fruit is called mabolo.

    Sep 6, 2008 | 6:33 pm

  26. PETE M. BIRUNG says:

    In Tuguegarao City where I grew up, mabolo(as we call it in ibanag or itawit) thrives in forested area . It is usually used as fencing post. Its fruits are delicious,sweet and the aroma is nostalgic- it reminds me of my innocent and carefree days when the barkada just climb the mabolo trees whoever owns it and unmindful of the many ants that thrives with the tree.But kids are kids, the elders just watched us and of course everyone then in the neighborhood was either your lola,lolo,auntie or uncle.Nowadays, mabolo trees are planted along the streets and seldom you see them bearing fruits.Mabolo fruits are still available in public markets in the provinces.Come on , one of these days,buy one mabolo fruit, feel its smooth skin , peel it and smell its sweet aroma , munch it, it is envigorating.

    Dec 2, 2008 | 6:32 pm

  27. kim says:

    Yeah, its delicious. I wonder why others dont like the taste and smell.? Even the the color looks appetizing.

    We should encourage the propagation of this tree. It is fast disappearing in backyards. And in the mountains it is the favorite of illegal loggers. It’s wood is among the hardest in the world. The wood is dense and heavy you and cant drive a nail into it without splitting the wood. Its best for furniture for its fine sheen ahd resistance to termites.

    Dec 16, 2008 | 11:39 am

  28. docboy says:

    Have eaten this unique fruit when i was young. It´s got fine hairy skin similar to velvet and has a peculiar aromatic smell with a soft creamy flesh when ripe enough. What i didn´t know for years was that this mabolo tree is also known as kamagong famous for its stone-like hardness and its ebony color which was such a big surprise for me. Furnitures made of kamagong wood are relatively seldom and very expensive. I really thought before that kamagong trees grow only in the forest without knowing that these trees are mostly urban dwellers grown in parks, streetsides and backyards!

    Mar 19, 2009 | 4:34 am

  29. mykes says:

    we call this fruit kamgom in camarines sur. i always love this fruit since i was a child & will never get tired of liking it! wants to plant more trees of these for future generations.

    Mar 27, 2009 | 10:53 am

  30. udo says:

    I love Kamagong (wood) and never knew that its a fruit tree…


    Apr 17, 2009 | 9:46 pm

  31. Julie A. de Guzman says:

    just got interested with kamagong furniture lately and had been asking around for provincial makers as prices in Metro Manila stores are just beyond my budget. i needed to check the internet to see where this lovely wood are coming from until i got to your site. Wow, i must admit i also didnt know until now that the kamagong wood comes from mabolo trees. I grew up in the province and I enjoyed mabolo fruits. i guess will just have to plant kamagong trees in our place for my kids to enjoy in the years to come.

    thanks to you and more power.

    Apr 25, 2009 | 11:47 am

  32. cez says:

    i wonder if i can make a candy out of mabolo? for my investigatory project…..

    Jun 6, 2009 | 6:33 pm

  33. Janete says:

    We call it kamagong (in Bicol – Cam. Sur)and this is another childhood fruit. Smells and taste really good for me. I guess you have to get used to it.

    Jun 23, 2009 | 1:17 am

  34. victor t. pabelico says:

    I’m Victor & I’m already 59 years old & I’m really familiar with mabolo fruit…its just so happened yesterday, it was a market day for the family & I usually accompany my wife every tuesday at Farmers Market-Cubao, QC. I came upon along the fruit section this few mabolo fruits only available in one stall. Thinking again of re-introducing the fruit to my grown-up 3boys-a girl of 36 yrs.old already & to try eating it again as they look good with shinning red-velvet color, I bought a kilo at P90. of about 3 big sized. It was so ‘smelly’ of its distinct smell that I knew it’s already ripe & ready to eat.As soon as I got home I had our help to prepare it & have it refrigerated for my dessert come lunch which I did. With some curious facts about the fruit, I decided to ‘google’ it to know how really nutrituos is the fruit & what really vitamins can we get from eating it if there’s any. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any answer to my question but instead just read all your very interesting experience & comments on looks & taste of the fruit. By the way, the first time I got introduce mabolo to my kids is when ‘they were still young & the general reactions were…’ngeek’, ‘yakkee’ etc.(similar reactions too for the ‘chesa’& ‘balimbing’ fruits.)Actually, I was then 12 years old when I first saw a tree of mabolo…with Mr. Mike Enriquez(DZBB/GMA-Channel 2 Mr.’IMBESTIGADOR’Himself) we grew together in Sta. Manila as altar boys or ‘sacristan’At Sta. Ana Parish Church (Our Lady of the Abandoned). It is here at the left side of the church where you could find these 2 huge,old mabolo trees with a lots of fruits in red velvet color. Yes! so huge that it almost at the same height of the 2nd floor of the Fransican Priest Convent. We were even told that ‘kapre’ & ‘tikbalang’ were living atop of the trees.That’s how we got used to mabolot fruits & trees. It’s unfortunate that the said trees are no longer there to give way to the construction thenm of St. Francis School for boys. So, I still hope someone couk help us research more about the mabolo fruits specially its nutritive, herbal or any medicinal value. I just have that inkling or feeling the this mabolo fruit is a ‘womder’ fruit for the sick…all we just need is evaluation & study….but believe it or not I’m already trying it with my sugar,hypertension & gall stones & a big dosage pf “faith’.

    Jul 1, 2009 | 1:58 pm

  35. edwin says:

    Where can I get or buy MABOLO trees.

    Need tehm for our farm lot in Nueva Ecija.

    thank you

    Jul 28, 2009 | 12:40 am

  36. edwin says:

    I’m also looking for seedlings for;

    and other childhood trees we use to eat.

    @victor I like the idea to study mabolo for medicinal use.

    regards to all,

    Jul 28, 2009 | 12:42 am

  37. Marketman says:

    edwin, visit the manila seedling bank in quezon city… they stock seedlings or saplings of many fruit trees.

    Jul 28, 2009 | 7:00 am

  38. Robin Upton says:

    Here in Dhaka, Bangladesh, they are an unusual but welcome find in the market; I’ve found them 3 times this year. The first time they were a beautiful royal purple spheres, with a very enigmatic taste. The second batch were paler, not as strong tasting or smelly, but included one that was yellow, though otherwise similar. This last time they still have the characteristic hairiness, but less taste, no odour, were rusty brown in colour and not spherical but shaped like rugby balls. The tastiest so far were the purple ones, and I have a theory that strength of smell is an indicator of taste, but more research is needed!

    Aug 5, 2009 | 5:31 pm

  39. sansindio says:

    I have seedlings and seeds of kamagong (Diospyros blancoi)
    I will sell it to those who are interested.

    Sep 18, 2009 | 3:36 pm


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