Finding miracle fruit on Oahu isn’t that difficult, but growing it yourself is another matter.
“My plant is doing really well, but to grow it, you need to wait about four years from seed to fruit,” said local entrepreneur Kyle Shimoda, who partnered with two friends in 2012 to host tasting parties that paired miracle fruit with food that complemented the effects of miraculin.
“It was too difficult to be a profitable business. (Miracle fruit) is one of those things that’s still not known well enough yet in Hawaii,” he said.
Honolulu residents currently have just one option to buy the fruit fresh. Frankie’s Nursery sells the berries for $1 apiece as Paradise Exotic Tropical Fruits at the Kapiolani Farmers Market on Saturday mornings at Kapiolani Community College. At the nursery in Waimanalo, potted miracle fruit plants are $30 for a 1-gallon pot.
Other locations where the plant can be bought include The Plant Place and Sharon’s Plants, both in Waimanalo, and Ko‘olau Farmers locations. All sell plants grown by Plant It Hawaii on Hawaii island.
Selling the fruit itself doesn’t work due to concerns about fruit fly infestation, according to Plant It Hawaii’s Jamie Nahl. State law prevents shipping it as fresh fruit, and the miracle fruit’s sensitivity to heat and light — too much of either diminishes its effectiveness — makes it difficult to ensure consistent distribution to other islands.
The miracle fruit plant is also known in Hawaii as a landscape shrub.
“It’s a dooryard tree,” Nahl said, referring to plants used to fill empty spaces and serve as decorative accents around a home. “They tend to grow very slowly.”
Several Hawaii physicians contacted by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser declined to comment on whether they recommend miracle fruit to cancer patients to enhance taste.