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Barbados Cherry Tree


Pavilion, Walkways & Garden Areas

Barbados Cherry Tree

Malpighia emarginata

  • ​Common Name: Barbados Cherry, Acerola Cherry, West Indian cherry
  • Scientific Name: Malpighia Punicifolia
  • Family Name: Malpighiaceae
  • Origin: South America, lesser Antilles and West Indies.
  • Height: 10-12 feet
  • Width:  10 feet
  • Growth: Fast growing, can produce a fruit crop in 1-2 years.
  • Zone: USDA Zones 9b-11, overly sensitive to temperatures below 32°F.
  • Light Needs:  Full sun to part shade.   
  • Salt Tolerance: Moderate
  • Soil/PH/Texture: Acid to slightly alkaline.
  • Soil Moisture:  Prefers moist, well-drained soil.
  • Drought Tolerance: Good
  • Pests/Diseases: Nematodes can be a problem. Using sterile potting mix around the soil at planting time may help.
  • Growing Conditions: Plant in full to part sun in moist, well-drained soil. The addition of some organic material to the planting hole can help improve crop yield.  Water regularly until established, then Barbados Cherry should be fairly drought tolerant. Fertilize twice a year for the first four years, cut back on feeding as tree matures.
  • Characteristics: A evergreen shrub or small tree. Blooms with pink showy flowers mainly in summer and intermittently all year. Followed by small, red edible fruits with yellow flesh about 60-90 days after flowering.
  • Propagation: Air layering or root cuttings are best. Although it can be grown from seed, the resulting fruit can be sourer than the original and germination can take 6-12 months.
  • Wildlife: Fruits are a wonderful food source for birds and wildlife.
  • Facts: A great fruit tree for a small yard. Barbados cherry has one of the highest concentrations of Vitamin C in its 1” red, tart fruits. When young, the leaves bear small irritating hairs so wear gloves when harvesting. The ‘Florida Sweet’ variety is popular for its high yield, upright growth habit, and large, semi-sweet fruits.
  • Designer Considerations: Useful as a small accent plant or hedge, with the bonus of edible fruits. Also grows well in a large container or planter. Can be sculpted for bonsai.