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Akala, Hawaiian Raspberry, a Rare and Unusual Fruit You Won’t Find Anywhere Else

October 31, 2019

The raspberry may be familiar to your lunch salad or your ice cream treat. But the Hawaiian raspberry, called akala, offers an alternative with a healthy punch. Named for the color of its juice — akala is Hawaiian for pink — this fruit breaks the rules of native Hawaiian plants.

 

What is the Hawaiian raspberry?

Brown prickly stems that reach ten-feet tall, protect this plant from unwanted visitors. (Other raspberry varieties are green or white.) But the thorns prove too wimpy and are not effective enough to deter those seeking its tasty fruits. One-and-a-half inch flowers bloom in dark pink, rose and white amid fuzzy leaves.

The akala joins rank among the largest berries in the world. Because the berries boast two inches in diameter, botanists nicknamed it the “giant raspberry”. Colors range from salmon to dark red, purple to yellow, and white. Their flavor can be sweet, but it tends to be tart or sour. Either way, the akala raspberry boasts a juicy taste experience.

 

Where does it grow?

Hawaiian raspberry plants enjoy the rocky areas in forests and woodlands. The sprawling shrub prefers elevations of 1,900 to 10,000 feet. With the combination of tropical climate and rocky soil, akala produces fruit from April to July.

The tropical and wet forests of Hawaii offer the ideal soil and climate to grow this native fruit. The islands of Kauai, Maui, Molokai, and Hawaii are home to akala. While they may be rare to the world, they are common to these locations.

 

Health benefits

Akala, like other wild fruits, carries antioxidants and holds anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C, folate, iron and potassium grace every bite. These nutritional powerhouses keep consumers healthy and battle diseases, like cancer. New research suggests raspberries also help manage type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Domesticating these berries may decrease their health benefits. Sourcing the fruit from Hawaii ensures the best returns. (The same is true of other tropical Hawaiian fruits.)

 

Other uses

The akala used to only color fabric. Because of its health benefits and flavor, it graduated from dying barkcloth to flavoring pies, jams, malasada, and kombucha.

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