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Growing Cherry of the Rio Grande: Eugenia involucrata

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A member of the Myrtle family, the Eugenia genus contains over 1000 species worldwide. Eugenia involucrata is one of those few with a true, cherry-like taste.


Form: Tree.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Slow to establish, then moderate, 2-3' per year.
Mature Size: 10-20' high and 7-15' wide.
Flowers: Four white petals with many long white stamens.
Bloom: Late winter into summer.
Self-fruitful: Yes, but cross-pollination with another plant greatly improves fruit yield.
Years before fruiting: 5.
Fruit: 1" diameter, oblong, dark red to almost black, cherry-like flavor, apical sepals remain attached to the ripe fruit.
Months for fruit to ripen: 3 weeks.
Storage after harvest: The fruit can be successfully frozen.
Leaves: Dark green, glossy, partly folded in the center.
Stems: Peeling bark on trunk. No thorns.
Roots: Not invasive.
Wildlife: Attracts bees and birds.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: South America.

Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 9-11. Young plants are hardy to 25°F, older plants are reportedly hardy to 15°F.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: No.
Sun: Full open shade all day, no direct sun in temperatures over 90°F.
Drought tolerant: Yes, but with loss of fruit.
Water after becoming established: While fruiting, water deeply using basin irrigation weekly in the hottest part of the year; every two to four weeks in winter. See Selecting and Growing Fruit for more information on basin irrigation.
Soil: Well drained, one-half native soil to one-half organic soil, pH 5.6-7.0 (acidic to neutral). This plant is said to be intolerant of salt and alkaline soil.
Fertilize: Use compost once a month during the growing season. This plant also needs a mid-winter application of citrus micronutrients containing magnesium.
Mulch: Use compost to reduce water evaporation and heat stress.
Spacing: 12-15' apart.
Planting: This plant can be grown in a container. The container should be protected from freezing temperatures.
First Year Care: Use basin irrigation. Deep water every two or three days as needed, tapering off to once a week.
Prune: Not needed except minor trimming to maintain shape.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Cuttings. Seed must be planted immediately without being dried.
Uses: Edible fruit, ornamental. Fruit are eaten raw or cooked into jellies.


Former botanical name: Eugenia aggregata.

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By I likE plants! (Flickr: RFVC 024) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Latest update: December, 2018