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Quantitative descriptors of variation in the fruits and seeds of Irvingia gabonensis

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Methods were developed to quantify variation in the fruit, nut and kernel traits using the fruits from four trees of Irvingia gabonensis, an indigenous fruit tree of west and central Africa. The measurement of 18 characteristics of 16–32 fruits per tree identified significant variation in fruit, nut and kernel size and weight, and flesh depth. Differences were also identified in shell weight and brittleness, fruit taste, fibrosity and flesh colour. Relationships between fruit size and weight with nut and kernel size and weight were found to be very weak, indicating that it is not possible to accurately predict the traits of the commercially-important kernel from fruit traits. Seven key qualitative traits are recommended for future assessments of the levels of genetic variation in fruits and kernels. These traits describe ideotypes for fresh fruit and kernel production.

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