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.
There are about 19 botanical synonyms for Eugenia uniflora, including Eugenia microphylla, Myrtus brasiliana, Plinia pedunculata and Stenocalyx uniflorus.
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.
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.
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).
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
More information on pitanga
From Julia Morton's "Fruits of Warm Climates".
An article from the University of Florida which covers pitanga and three other Brazilian Myrtaceae.
Gardens, Hwy 120 Km 18.9, Box 692, Maricao, Puerto Rico 00606 USA
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