Pulasan belongs to Sapindaceae family, It is an exotic fruit which originated from Western Malaysia. It grows mostly in lowland forests around Perak The name of the fruit itself suggests twisting. Pulas is to twist in Malay language. So the fruit is opened by twisting the fruit with both hands. The same is done with Rambutan fruit to open.
There are two varieties in this fruit. One is dark red in color and the other one is light red. It is sweeter than Rambutan. The latin name is Nephelium Mutabile, but there are at least 30 other wild species of Nephelium with edible fruits.
Even though they are native to western Malaysia, they are found growing abundantly in Philippines at low elevations from Luzon to Mindanao. In the year 1926, it was planted in Puerto Rico and later also in Costa Rica. It has been recently introduced in Kerala state of India.
Pulasan fruits are harvested twice in a year. The season of trees flowering is from March-May and August-October. After flowering, the fruits start to mature in 15-18 weeks time. It takes 100-130 days to mature, in warm tropical areas. The first season of fruiting is from July-November and the next one is from March-July. Fruit is harvested in bunches when most of them turn yellow or red color.
The tree can grow to a height of 15m. Trunk grows about 16 inch in diameter. it is an ultra-tropical fruit and thrives only in very humid regions between 360 -1,150 ft altitude. In the Malaya region, the tree bears best after a long, dry season.
Fruit grows in clusters of 3-5. is slightly oval shaped and 2-3 inches in length. The outer skin of the fruit has spiky soft thorns but they are not so sharp. The pulp of the fruit is white or yellowish and translucent. The edible portion is juicy, sweet and aromatic and tastes like a sweet grape. It contains a single seed which has the size and shape of an almond. It is easy to separate the seed from flesh.
The pulasan is often confused with rambutan because it is closely allied with it. The skin is thicker and rougher than Rambutan. Other fruits in the same family are Fijian Longan, Longan and Lychee. Pulasan fruit is also known as rambutan paroh, rambutan-kafri or pening-pening-ramboetan. In Philippines it is called Bulala and Ngoh-khonsan in Thai language.
While packaging they are tied up in bunches. The fruits are generally available on special request at wholesale price in Malaysia but production volume is limited