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The photos below were taken on the island of Penghu in the Taiwan straight in October. This was in a public place and the small tree (about 3 meters tall, trunk perhaps 8 to 10 cm diameter) had probably been planted, so we can't presume it to be indigenous.

Each fruit was about 6 or 7 cm long, the skin was bright orange and seemed a bit waxy. The shape was a little bit like a banana-shaped American football in that it was divided into four quadrants. They attach to a stem in pairs and extend horizontally (sideways) rather than hang down.

Question: What could this gravity defying fruit-bearing tree be?

The first image is cropped, zoomed and sharpened in order to highlight textures.

fruit seen in Penghu island

fruit seen in Penghu island

fruit seen in Penghu island

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The seed pods reminded me of the Apocynaceae, so I searched for "apocynaceae china" and found this University of Hawaii page where it is identified as Stemmadenia litoralis. However, a little more looking it seems Tabernaemontana litoralis may be the preferred name. There is some debate here. This book may hold the final answer regarding the genus.

Your picture of the fruit is one of the best one I could find on the internet. There is another good one here with other pictures of the plant.

You were also correct that as a planted tree it might not be native. This plant comes from Central America.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow that was quick, thank you for the thorough answer! I don't think this will become as popular as chili peppers (from the Americas as well I think) but it certainly is interesting to look at. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 18 '19 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ Locals call it the "Lanyu Tabernaemontana," (named after Lanyu island to the East) which may be classified as Tabernaemontana dichotoma (Roxb. ex Wall.), Google images, or Tabernaemontana subglobosa (Merr.). Plants of Taiwan at the National Taiwan University. $\endgroup$ – Gen Test Sep 25 '19 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ @GenTest thanks for all the additional information! One of the images in your link leads to toxbaselanka. While I'd never thought to try to taste it, I was surprised to see it on a website of toxic plants! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 25 '19 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh It's in the same dogbane family Apocynaceae as oleandor. The Tabernaemontana genus contains lots of toxin-producing species, and dichotoma's sap may cause redness and swelling if it comes in to contact with the skin. Though it does also contain medicinal compounds and uses.. $\endgroup$ – Gen Test Sep 25 '19 at 22:06

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