It is a tropical tree growing to 12 m tall, with evergreen leaves 10-25 cm long and 5-10 cm broad. The flowers are white, 2.5 cm diameter, with four petals and numerous stamens. The fruit is a bell-shaped edible berry, with colors ranging from white, pale green, green, red, purple, crimson, to deep purple or even black, 4-6 cm long in wild plants. The flowers and resulting fruit are not limited to the axils of the leaves and can appear on nearly any point on the surface of the trunk and branches. When mature, the tree is considered a heavy bearer and can yield a crop of up to 700 fruits.
The ripened fruit varies in hue and can be light pink to a dark, almost purple, red. One of the most highly prized and sought after wax apples in Taiwan are "black pearls," which are purplish-red. If it is ripe enough, the fruit will puff outwards, with the middle of the underside of the "bell shape" dented in a touch. Healthy wax apples have a light sheen to them. Despite its rather plain name, a wax apple is anything but plain. A ripe wax apple only resembles an apple on the outside in color. It doesn't taste like an apple. It has neither the fragrance nor the density of an apple. The flavor is a bit like a snow pear. The liquid to flesh ratio of the wax apple is comparable to a watermelon. It's remarkably refreshing and juicy. Unlike either apple or watermelon, the wax apple's flesh has a very loose weave. The very middle holds a seed that's situated in a sort of cotton-candy-like mesh. The mesh is edible but flavorless. The color of its juice depends on the cultivar of the fruit. As well as in its native range, it is also cultivated in tropical regions such as Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. A number of cultivars with larger fruit have been selected. In general, the paler or darker the color is, the sweeter it is. In South East Asia, the black ones are nicknamed "Black Pearl" or "Black Diamond," while the very pale greenish white ones are called "Pearl." They are among the highest priced ones in fruit markets.
When choosing a good wax apple, look for ones with the bottom segments closed up because open holes signify worm eggs inside the fruit. Also, usually the reddest fruits are the sweetest. To eat, the core is removed and the fruit is served uncut, in order to preserve the unique bell shape presentation.
In Indian ocean island cuisine, the fruit is frequently used in salads, as well in with light sauteed dishes.
See Also: florist Paris, Vietnam flower, India flower