Eugenia uniflora
(Myrtaceae) 


Common Names
 

English: pitanga, Surinam cherry, Brazilian cherry, Cayenne cherry, Florida cherry

Portuguese: pitangueira vermelha, pitangueira, pitanga-do-mato, pitangueira miuda, pitangueira comum, pitanga rósea

Spanish: pitanga, cereza de Surinam, cereza de cayena, pendanga, cereza cuadrada, guinday, guinda

French: cerise à côtes, cerises-cotes, cerise de Cayenne, cerise de pays, cerise carée

Dutch (Suriname): Surinaamsche kersh, zoete kers, monkie monkie kersie

Guraraní (Paraguay): ñanga-pirí

 

Origin and Distribution 

South America from Venezuela and Guayana to southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.  It is cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics.

 

Botanical Synonyms 

There are about 19 botanical synonyms for Eugenia uniflora, including Eugenia microphylla, Myrtus brasiliana, Plinia pedunculata and Stenocalyx uniflorus.

 

Description

Large shrub to small tree, reaching 25 feet (7.6 m). Multiple thin trunks and densely branched, with smooth bark.  Leaves opposite, glossy green, 1.5 to 2 inches (4 to 5 cm) long and 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide.  New growth reddish.  Perfect axillary flowers, solitary or in groups of up to four.  Fruits round, ribbed, red or dark purple, around 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, with a thin peel, juicy, sweet to sour to resinous. Fruits contain one or two seeds.

 

'Lorver' pitanga (Eugenia uniflora) fruit

 

Propagation and Culture

Pitanga is propagated by seed and grafting. Seeds germinate in about 3 to 4 weeks. The plants prefer soil with abundant organic matter and a pH of 5.5-6.5, but can grow and fruit in a wide diversity of soils, from heavy acid clays to pure sand. It grows well in full sun to partial shade. Plants are reportedly hardy to 22 F (-5 C). Begins fruiting at 2 to 3 years from seed. In Puerto Rico, fruits from April to June, and again from September to November.

 

Cultivars and Related Species

There is a lot of variation in pitanga, for fruit size, quality, yield and other characteristics.  Some named cultivars are:

‘Lolita’ – Medium sized fruit, to about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and 5.6 g, dark red.

Click to enlarge - 'Lolita' pitanga (Eugenia uniflora)

'Lolita' pitanga 


‘Lorver’ – Large fruit, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and 6.6 g, red orange.  In 2004, we harvested a giant 'Lorver' pitanga fruit!

 

Click to enlarge - 'Lorver' pitanga (Eugenia uniflora)

'Lorver' pitanga


‘Vermillion’ – Large fruit, over 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and 7.3 g, red orange.

 

Click to enlarge - 'Vermillion' pitanga (Eugenia uniflora)

'Vermillion' pitanga
 

There are approximately 1,000 Eugenia species, and about 40 of these are cultivated for their with edible fruits.  Some important Eugenia species are Eugenia brasiliensis (grumichama), Eugenia stipitata (arazá), and Eugenia victoriana (sundrop).

 

Uses

Pitanga fruits are consumed fresh, and are also used to make juices, wines, ice cream, fruit shakes, jams and jellies. The tree is also beautiful ornamental and can be pruned as a hedge.  Will fruit in a pot.

 

Nutritional composition per 100 g pitanga fruit      

Carbohydrate 7.9-12.5 g
Fat  0.4-0.9 g
Protein  0.4-1.0 g
Calcium  9 mg
Phosphorous  9-11 mg
Iron  0.2 mg
Vitamin A  1,200-2,000 IU
Vitamin B1 0.03-0.3 mg
Vitamin B2  0.04-0.6 mg
Niacin  0.03 mg
Vitamin C   62 mg

 

More information on pitanga

Surinam Cherry

From Julia Morton's "Fruits of Warm Climates".

 

Selected Eugenia Species

An article from the University of Florida which covers pitanga and three other Brazilian Myrtaceae.

 

Pitanga (Eugenia uniflora) flowers  

 

 

 

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