1) Plant History & General Information:
- Location on Property: Garden D, Garden O
Scientific Name: Eugenia uniflora
- Region of Origin: Tropical America (Guyana, French Guiana, southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay)
- General History: Portuguese voyagers carried the seed from Brazil to India then to Italy and the rest of southern Europe and then to Florida. The leaves are glossy green, up to 4 cm long, and new leaves are copper-colored.
2) Plant Uses:
- As Food: Fragrant white flowers mature into reddish fruits up to 2 cm in diameter. The flavor ranges from sweet to sour, depending on the cultivar and level of ripeness (the darker red to black range is quite sweet, while the green to orange range is strikingly tart). You can use the Surinam Cherry in gardens as a hedge or screen. The fruit is high in Vitamin C, and its predominant food use is as a flavoring and base for jams and jellies.
- WARNING: The seeds are extremely resinous and should not be eaten. The strong, spicy emanation from bushes being pruned irritates the respiratory passages of sensitive persons.
- As Medicine: Brazilians take the leaf infusion as a stomachic, febrifuge and astringent. In Surinam, people drink the leaf decoction as a cold remedy and, in combination with lemongrass, as a febrifuge. The leaves yield an essential oil containing citronellal, geranyl acetate, geraniol, cineole, terpinene, sesquiterpenes, and polyterpenes.
- Other Uses: You can use the Surinam cherry in gardens as a hedge or screen. You can sometimes see the leaves spread over the floors of Brazilian homes. They release their pungent oil which repels flies when walked upon. You can use the bark to treat leather because it contains 20% to 28.5% tannin. The flowers are a rich source of pollen for honeybees but yield little or no nectar.
3) Growing Instructions:
Growing: Surinam cherry seedlings grow slowly; some begin to fruit when 2 years old. Some may delay fruit in 5 to 10 years. They are most productive if unpruned, but still produce a great many fruits when close-clipped in hedges.
- Best time to Harvest: March through June, or September through November
- Sunlight Requirements: Full Shade, Partial Shade, Full Sunlight
- Soil Requirements: The Surinam cherry grows in almost any type of soil–sand, sandy loam, stiff clay, soft limestone–and can even stand waterlogging for a time, but it is intolerant of salt.
- Propagation: Cutting, Division, Grafting, Seed, Separating
- Controlling Spread: /
- Difficulties with this plant: Must harvest fruit or will attract flies!