1) Plant History & General Information:
- Location on Property: Garden D, K
- Scientific Name: Eugenia uniflora
- Region of Origin: The surinam cherry is native to tropical South America’s east coast, ranging from Suriname, French Guiana to southern Brazil, as well as parts of Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay.
- Type: Edible
- General History: Eugenia uniflora is commonly known as Surinam Cherry, pitanga, Brazilian cherry, Cayenne cherry, or Cerisier Carré. is a large shrub or small tree with a conical form, growing slowly to 8 meters in height. When bruised, crushed or cut, the leaves and branches have a spicy resinous fragrance. New leaves are bronze, copper or coppery-pinkish in color, maturing to a deep glossy green, up to 4 cm long. During winter the leaves turn red. Flowers develop into ribbed fruits 2 to 4 cm in diameter, starting out as green, then ranging through orange, scarlet and maroon as they ripen.
2) Plant Uses:
- As Food: The edible fruit is a botanical berry. The taste 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).
- As Medicine: Eugenia uniflora has several significant pharmacological properties. Its essential oil is antihypertensive, antidiabetic, antitumor and analgesic, and it has shown antiviral and antifungal activity. It has performed against microorganisms such as Trichomonas gallinae (in vitro), Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania amazonensis. It also shows significant anti-inflammatory properties, and is used extensively as a folk remedy in South America against stomach diseases.
- Other Uses: Suriname cherry is often used in gardens as a hedge or screen. The leaves are spread on house floors in Brazil, so that when crushed underfoot, they exude a smell which repels flies.
- Growing: Surinam cherry seedlings grow slowly; some begin to fruit when 2 years old; some may delay fruiting for 5 or 6 years, or even 10 if in unfavorable situations. They are most productive if unpruned, but still produce a great many fruits when close-clipped in hedges. Quarterly feeding with a complete fertilizer formula promotes fruiting. The fruits develop and ripen quickly, only 3 weeks after the flowers open.
- Best time to Harvest:
- Sunlight Requirements: Full sun
- Soil Requirements: Grows in almost any type of soil but is intolerant to salt
- Propagation: Seeds are the usual means of propagation. They remain viable for not much longer than a month and germinate in 3 to 4 weeks. Volunteer seedlings can be taken up and successfully transplanted.
- Difficulties with this plant: Surinam cherries are highly attractive to Caribbean and Mediterranean fruit flies. The foliage is occasionally attacked by scale insects and caterpillars. The seeds are extremely resinous and should not be eaten.