A large shrub or small tree.
8-20' high and 6-15' wide.
Long-stalked, in clusters of 1-4 flowers in the leaf axils, four white petals,
many long, pale-yellow tipped, white stamens, fragrant. Flowers have abundant pollen but little
Spring and fall for two crops. It may flower and fruit all year in tropical climates
with sufficient rainfall.
Years before fruiting:
2-6 years depending on location. Typically 5-6 years.
Round, seven to eight deep ribs, slightly flattened at the ends, with small apical sepals.
The thin skin turns bright red or almost red-black when fully ripe, with very juicy, aromatic, orange-red
flesh, and a unique, non-cherry flavor, tart when partly ripe to sweet when fully ripe, containing
one to three seeds.
Dark colored fruit varieties are sweeter and contain little to no resin. The fruit size, one-half to two
inches, depends on the amount of water the plant receives during fruiting. The flavor varies from
plant to plant when they are grown from seed instead of from cuttings.
Months for fruit to ripen:
Three weeks after flowering. Individual fruits ripen at different
times and must be harvested once or twice a day. The fruit must not be picked until they
fall off the stem easily or they will be resinous and bitter. Pruned bushes can yield 6-8 pounds
of fruit per plant. Unpruned plants can yield up to twice that amount.
Storage after harvest:
Fruit last one day at room temperature and up to one week refrigerated.
Resinous, aromatic, oval to lance shaped, bronze when young, green and glossy
at maturity, turning red in cold, dry weather. The aroma of crushed leaves is said to repel insects.
This plant provides dense shade.
Slender, containing resinous sap. No thorns.
Deep. Invasive in wet climates. Desirable cultivars are grafted onto rootstock grown
Cultivars of Note:
'Black Star' - ripe fruit are black.
'Lolita' - ripe fruit are bright red.
Attracts bees, birds, mammals. Birds disperse the seeds.
Toxic / Danger:
The seeds are very resinous and should not be eaten. The fruit causes diarrhea in dogs.
The smell of freshly cut stems can irritate respiratory passages of sensitive individuals.
East coast of South America.