Garden Oracle / Drought and Heat Tolerant Gardening / Tucson - Phoenix - Arizona - California
Garden Oracle / Drought and Heat Tolerant Gardening / Tucson - Phoenix - Arizona - California

Growing Peanut Butter Tree:
Bunchosia glandulifera

Back to Fruit, Berries and Nuts

Botanical Overview

A member of the tropical and subtropical Barbados Cherry family (Malpighiaceae), the genus Bunchosia contains about 75 species of shrubs and trees. Bunchosia glandulifera is the most widely cultivated.


Form: A large shrub or small tree.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Moderate to rapid.
Mature Size: 10-15' high and as wide; usually 6-12' in dry climates.
Flowers: Yellow, small, clustered.
Bloom: Spring.
Self-fruitful: Yes.
Years before fruiting: 2-3 from seed.
Fruit: Thin orange or red skin, 1" long, edible, with a soft, sticky, dense pulp tasting like peanut butter and sweet jelly, normally containing one seed, occasionally two. The fruit pulp contains lycopene, vitamin C, beta-carotene and caffeine.
Months for fruit to ripen: The fruit ripen a few at a time and need to be harvested daily. Harvest as soon as the fruit turn dark orange or dark red and the flesh is still firm. The flavor changes the next day if a fruit is left on the plant after becoming ripe. Dried fruit have been compared to dried figs or persimmons.
Storage after harvest: If picked when the flesh is hard, they can be left on the counter at room temperature to become soft. Once soft, they can be refrigerated for a few days. The fruit are highly perishable, and should be eaten raw, cooked, frozen, or subjected to a drying process quickly.
Leaves: Dark green, wavy margins, lighter green with sparse hairs on the underside.
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: No taproot.
Wildlife: The flowers attract bees. The fruit attracts birds and mammals.
Toxic / Danger: None. Reports that the seed is poisonous are incorrect.
Origin: South America.

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Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 10. Young plants should be protected from freezing. Mature plants are hardy to 28°F.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: Extra shade and water are needed.
Drought tolerant: No.
Sun: Full sun to part shade with full afternoon shade.
Planting: Locate this plant where it will have early morning sun and full afternoon shade. It can be grown in a large, well-draining container, with changes of soil every few years.
Soil: Well drained, moist, high organic content, pH 6.1-7.5 (slightly acidic to neutral).
Fertilize: Apply a tropical plant/citrus micronutrient product to irrigation water, or sprinkled on the ground, mid-winter. Apply organic fertilizer every two months. This plant is a moderate feeder.
Water after becoming established: Irrigate for a short period daily during the growing season. Higher temperatures will require more water. This plant will tolerate less water after 3 years in the ground. The plant needs more water when its leaves start to cup.
Mulch: Spread organic mulch under the canopy and 8" away from the trunk to reduce moisture loss and lessen root temperature extremes.
First Year Care: Provide extra shade and keep the soil slightly moist. Protect from freezing.
Prune: In winter, prune to shape. This plant can be kept at 6' tall for easier harvesting by cutting the central trunk low. Flowers appear on new growth.
Litter: Low: spent flowers, fruit if not harvested.
Propagation: Seed and rooted cuttings. Dried seeds typically sprout in 2-4 weeks.
Uses: Ornamental, edible fruit.


This plant is often misidentified as Bunchosia argentea, which has flat, not wavy, leaves with dense hairs on the underside giving them a silvery appearance.

Do you have additional information or a different experience for these plants that you would like to share? Email All contributions are welcome and appreciated.

By Asit K. Ghosh Thaumaturgist - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid-10623068

Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY 2.0 httpscreativecommons.orglicensesby2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.jpg

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Latest update: August, 2022