While it must be listed among the minor fruits, the ramontchi (more commonly known in the West Indies as Governor's-plum) is not devoid of interest and merit. It is an excellent hedge plant, and its plum-like fruits, which are produced in great abundance, make good jam and preserves.
If allowed to develop to maximum size, the plant may become a large shrub or small tree about 25 feet high. It is armed with long slender thorns. The leaves are broadly ovate in outline, 2 to 3 inches long, acuminate, and commonly serrate. The staminate and pistillate flowers are normally produced on separate plants, as in the papaya; it is, therefore, necessary to plant trees of both sexes in order to have fruit. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, the fruits round, about an inch in diameter, and deep maroon colored when fully ripe, having a thin skin surrounding soft juicy pulp and several small thin seeds. The flavor is sweet and agreeable in some varieties, acid and somewhat strong in others.
Fig. 58. The ramontchi (Flacourtia Ramontchi), often called governor's-plum, comes from Madagascar. Its maroon-colored fruits, of subacid flavor, are valued principally for making preserves. (X 3/5)
The ramontchi is considered a native of southern Asia and Madagascar. It is now widely scattered throughout the tropics, but is not extensively cultivated in any region. It can be grown in southern Florida as far north as Fort Pierce. In California it has never been very successful. With protection during the first winters it may be possible to grow it in the mildest sections of the latter state. It withstands light frosts after it has attained a few years growth, and is not exacting in its cultural requirements. It grows on soils of various types, and in moist climates as well as in those which are rather dry. Propagation is usually effected by means of seeds. When multiplied in this manner, however, many more male plants are produced than are required for the pollination of the females, and it is not possible to perpetuate choice varieties. Vegetative propagation, most likely by means of budding, will have to be applied to this species before its cultivation can be made altogether satisfactory.