Acerola Cherry
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Acerola Cherry
E Introduced Photo: Ikbal Hasan
Common name: Acerola Cherry, Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry
Botanical name: Malpighia emarginata    Family: Malpighiaceae (Barbados cherry family)
Synonyms: Malpighia lancifolia, Malpighia retusa, Malpighia umbellata

Acerola Cherry is an evergreen shrub or small tree with spreading branches on a short trunk. It is usually 2-3 m tall, but sometimes reaches 6 m in height. The leaves are simple, 2-8 cm long, 1-4 cm, and have short leaf-stalks. They are opposite, ovate to elliptic-lanceshaped, and have entire or wavy margins and blunt to rounded, and often notched at the tip. The plant is closely related to Barbados Cherry, which has leaves with pointed tips. Flowers are bisexual and 1-2 cm in diameter. They have five pale to deep pink or red fringed petals, 10 stamens, and six to 10 glands on the sepal-cup. The 3-5 flowers per inflorescence are stalkless or short-stalked in leaf-axils cymes. After three years, shrub produces significant numbers of bright red drupes 1-3 cm in diameter. Drupes contains three triangular seeds. The drupes are juicy and very high in vitamin C and other nutrients. Acerola Cherry is native to Mexico to N. Colombia.

Identification credit: Ikbal Hasan Photographed in cultivation.

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