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EUGENIA uniflora

Image of Eugenia uniflora

Forest & Kim Starr

Family

Myrtaceae

Botanical Name

EUGENIA uniflora

Plant Common Name

Brazilian Cherry, Pitanga, Surinam Cherry

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Fresh, new leaves emerge coppery while the fragrant white blossoms of the Surinam cherry soon develop into acidy, spicy, dark red fruits that look like tiny pumpkins. An evergreen tree often used as a hedge in tropical areas, it is native to northern South America. The abundant fruit production can result in birds scattering around fruits and creating a nuisance of new seedlings across the landscape.

The rich green, glossy leaves are oval-shaped with an acute point. When young, the leaves are a light green to coppery tint. The fragrant, bee-attracting white flowers appear heavily in the warmth of spring and early summer, soon followed by small yellow fruits. When at this stage, they are very bitter tasting but can be pickled. As the fruit ripen they become first bright red and then a deeper red, signaling that they have lost most of their bitterness and have much more sweetness in their juicy flesh. The fruit's flavor ranges from peppery and sour (bright red) to spicy and sweet (darker red). They can be used in preserves or as fresh juice. In cooler regions the evergreen leaves may take on a burgundy or reddened blush.

Grow Surinam cherry in full to partial sun in any fertile, well-draining soil. Sandy soils should have a thick mulch topping over the tree's root zone. Tolerant of drought and moderate exposure to saltspray, it is a great shade tree or roadside median plant as well as shearable for tall hedges and screens. If pruned as a formal hedge, fruiting is typically sacrificed. Birds will eat the fruits and scatter the viable seeds across the landscape; volunteer seedlings grow under mother plants as well as across a garden. Fruits also attract fruitflies.

Surinam cherry is considered invasive in certain tropical regions, such as southern Florida and Hawaii. It will create a thicket that will shade out understory native plants.

Two forms of this tree are known, one with red fruits, another with nearly black fruits that are known to taste much sweeter. Cultivar 'Lolita' often forms two crops a year with small, blakc fruits while 'Nacha' has larger red but acidy fruits. Both 'Vermilion' and 'Black' have large fruits with a flavor like a nectarine.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    20'-33' / 6.1m - 10.1m

  • Width

    10'-15' / 3.0m - 4.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring

  • Native To

    South America, Brazil

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Red, Crimson

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green, Copper

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Burgundy

  • Bark Color

    Tan, Brown, Sandy Brown

  • Bark Color Modifier

    Spotted/Mottled

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Exfoliating

  • Usage

    Edible, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Hedges, Screening / Wind Break, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Yes

  • Attracts

    Birds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes