Miracle Fruit - Synsepalum dulcificum (Schumach. & Thonn.) Daniell
Miracle berry
Fig. 1 magnifying glass

Synsepalum dulcificum (leaves). Location: Maui, Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery
Fig. 2 magnifying glass
Synsepalum dulcificum (leaves). Location: Maui, Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery

Leaf growth habit
Fig. 3 magnifying glass
Leaf growth habit

Flowering branch
Fig. 4 magnifying glass
Flowering branch

Fruit forming
Fig. 5  magnifying glass

Unripe fruit
Fig. 9 magnifying glass
Unripe fruit

Ripe fruit
Fig. 10 magnifying glass
Ripe fruit

Synsepalum dulcificum (Miraculous berry, miracle fruit) ripe fruit
Fig. 11 magnifying glass
Synsepalum dulcificum (Miraculous berry, miracle fruit) ripe fruit

Synsepalum dulcificum (Miraculous berry, miracle fruit)
Fig. 12 magnifying glass
Synsepalum dulcificum (Miraculous berry, miracle fruit)

Plant habit
Fig. 16 magnifying glass
Plant growth habit

Fresh Miracle Fruit berries have a relatively short shelf life:
Fig. 17 magnifying glass
Fresh Miracle Fruit berries have a relatively short shelf life

Miracle fruit
Fig. 18 magnifying glass

Miracle Frooties, freeze-dried miracle fruit in tablet form
Fig. 19 magnifying glass
Miracle Frooties, freeze-dried miracle fruit in tablet form

Bark
Fig. 20 magnifying glass

Miracle Fruit plants can grow up to 10' tall
Fig. 21 magnifying glass
Miracle Fruit plants can grow up to 10' tall. (Miracle Fruit Farm, Miami, FL)


Scientific name
Synsepalum dulcificum (Schumach. & Thonn.) Daniell
Common names
Miracle fruit, miracle berry, miraculous berry
Synonyms
Bakeriella dulcifica (Schumach. & Thonn.) Dubard; Bumelia dulcifica Schumach. & Thonn.; Pouteria dulcifica (Schumach. & Thonn.) Baehni ; Sideroxylon dulcificum (Schumach. & Thonn.) A.DC.
Relatives
Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota)
Family
Sapotaceae
Origin
Tropical West Africa
Uses
The miracle fruit is unusually well suited for container growth (once you are aware of its need for acidity) 11
Height
To 18 ft (5.486 m) in its native habitat, but rarely to 5 ft (1.524 m) otherwise 1
Plant habit
Evergreen, bush or tree
Growth rate
Slow
Pruning requirement
In general, there is no need to prune the miracle fruit plant
Leaves
Deep green, elongated, spire-like habit
Flowers
Androgynous; solitary or in pars; on the axiles or below the foliar zone 18
Fruit
Fruit are ellipsoids; thin skin; sweet and carnose pulp; one seed 18
Season
Throughout the year, largest crop in winter
Light requirement
Partial shade
Soil tolerances
Will not tolerate alkaline soil
PH preference
4.5 to 5.8
Drought tolerance
Unknown
Aerosol salt tolerance
Unknown
Soil salt tolerance
Unknown
Cold tolerance
Hardy to 32°F (0 °C)
Plant spacing
10-12 ft (3.048-3.657 m)
Invasive potential *
None reported
Pestdisease resistance
Few pests and diseases



Reading Material

Fact Sheet on the Miracle Fruit from the California Rare Fruit Growers Inc
The Old Sweet Lime Trick from D. McVicar Cannon of Quisqualis.com
Article about this plant from Top Tropicals Nursery
The Miracle Fruit by University of Florida, Palm Beach Extension
Miracle Fruit from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia



Origin

Tropical West Africa

Description
Both regular and large-leaf and a hairy-leaf form are known. 1
There are 2 known species of synsepalum that carry miracle fruits. Synsepalum dulcificum is a smaller-leaf version (leaves are narrow), and is somewhat slower growing plant. Synsepalum subcordatum (Giant Miracle Fruit) is a larger leaf variety, and grows into a small tree. The fruit are slightly bigger than those of S. dulcificum, and are produced more profusely, especially in first years. With age, the fruit crop amounts of these two species become about the same. 13

The Miracleberry (Synsepalum dulcificum) (family Sapotaceae) is a large shrub (reaching 2 to 5 m tall) with dense foliage clustered at the tips of its many slender branches. It is native to West and West-Central tropical Africa. This plant is best known for its red berries, which contain a glycoprotein known as miraculin. Miraculin has the remarkable property of modifying sour tastes into into sweet (Kurihara and Beidler 1968). William Freeman Daniell (1852, cited in Kurihara and Beidler 1968) provided the first report in the scientific literature of this unusual property of Miracleberry fruits. 14

Synsepalum subcordatum - large leaf variety, 1 ft tall plant fruiting in 3 gal pot Synsepalum dulcificum - small leaf-variety, 1 ft tall plant fruiting in 3 gal pot xx
Fig. 22 magnifying glass Fig. 23 magnifying glass Fig. 24 magnifying glass

Fig. 22. Synsepalum subcordatum - large leaf variety, 1 ft tall plant fruiting in 3 gal pot
Fig. 23. Synsepalum dulcificum - small leaf-variety, 1 ft tall plant fruiting in 3 gal pot
Fig. 24. Synsepalum dulcificum (habit). Location: Maui, Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery

Flowers
These plants have small flowers that start out a cream colour and turn a dark red to black when past mature. 11

Synsepalum dulcificum Up Close & Personal from B.G. CannonII of Quisqualis.com

Miracle Fruit Flowers and Fruit from Quisqualis.com


Leaves
Synsepalum dulcificum (leaves). Location: Maui, Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery New leaf growth Underside of leaf
Fig. 6 magnifying glass Fig. 7 magnifying glass Fig. 8 magnifying glass

Fig. 6. Synsepalum dulcificum (leaves). Location: Maui, Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery
Fig. 7. New leaf growth
Fig. 8. Underside of leaf

Fruit
The fruit is a small bright red, ellipsoid berry approximately 2 to 3 cm long and containing a single seed. Although not sweet itself, when a single fruit is eaten and the fleshy pulp allowed to coat the taste buds of the tongue and inside of the mouth, an extraordinary effect occurs. The fruit will now allow one to eat a slice of lemon or lime without wincing. The marvelous aroma and inherent sweetness of the citrus remains but the sourness is almost completely covered. The effect remains for some 30 minutes or more. 1

"In the writer's opinion, one fruit worked in the mouth long enough to remove all the pulp from the smooth, shiny single seed, gives maximum results, and consumisng additional berries does not tend to increase its potency. The sweet-inducing properties of this "taste-twister" can linger on for up to three hours and the flavor of fruits, such as fresh strawberries, can be greatly enhanced when certain delicate flavors, formerly masked by table sugar, are released and experienced for the first time." 6 

Synsepalum dulcificum (miracle berry) Fruit and flower at the bottom of image
Fig. 13 magnifying glass Fig. 14 magnifying glass

Fig. 14. Fruit and white flower at bottom of image

Harvesting
The miracle fruit, upon attaining a height of two to three feet in four years or less, can produce fifty or more berries at one time. The main crop comes in winter, with larger plants tending to bear some fruit most of the year. Setting plants out in alkaline soils should be avoided; peat moss is one of the best mediums for potting up these acid-loving fruits. 6

Pollination
How is this fruit pollinated? Some references exist that say it is ‘self pollinated’ and I found none showing insect or animal pollination. The shape of the flower, and the fact that many of them face downwards, suggests gravity as a mechanism. 18

Propagation
By seed. Seeds should not be dried out before planting.
When propagating miracle fruit, sow the seeds in a rich, well-drained medium, just barely covered, and water lightly every other day. Seeds generally come up in about eight to ten weeks, but grow slowly the first year, often being only two to three inches tall at the end of almost one year of growth. It really takes three to four years before the plants reach a height of more than fifteen to twenty inches, and then they start to grow more rapidly.
Although it can be rooted from cuttings under mist, cuttings generally take a long time to root and don't seem to grow as fast as seedlings. So, in commercial production, almost all miracle fruit are still propagated from seed. On large plants, it might be feasible to attempt air-layerings, or even grafting from bearing ones to seedlings, but I don't know of anyone who has tried it. 14

Small plants can produce berries if grown from a cutting rather than a seed.
Fig. 15 magnifying glass

Fig. 15. Small plants can produce berries if grown from a cutting rather than a seed

Planting
An acid soil is a must for miracle fruit. They prefer a soil acidity of pH 4.5 to 5.8. This can be achieved by planting in equal parts Canadian acid peat and pine bark. Also peat and perlite mixes are said to give excellent result. 1

Growing instructions for this plant from Top Tropicals Nursery pdf

Fertilizing
The plant should be fertilized every two to three months with a good quality balanced
fertilizer.  14

Irrigation
Be sure that the soil is well draining as the plants do not like to sit in wet soils. Coming from a tropical climate they need highly humid conditions. 1

Food Uses
Eaten raw

Medicinal Uses **
Synsepalum dulcificum from the Memorial Sloan Kerrering Cancer Center ext. link

General
It is unfortunate that heat destroys the active principle, so that canning, jams, preserves, baking, drying, etc. are impossible. The fruits can be held for a short period of time by refrigeration or freezing. 12
Miraculin differs from most other "sweet-tasting" proteins in that it is a taste modifier, without itself having a sweet taste. In general, "sweet-tasting" proteins may be classified into three categories: the protein itself is sweet (thaumatin, monellin, mabinlins, pentadin and brazzein), the protein induces sweetness (miraculin), or both (neoculin, the heterodimeric form of curculin) (Hiwasa-Tanase et al. 2012).  14
Synsepalum subcordatum (Giant Miracle Fruit) is called Munga in India 16
The Synsepalum subcordatum - large leaf variety's fruit does not cause the 'miracle' or taste-twisting. 19

Information on Miraculin

Further Reading
New Benefits Miracle Fruit by B. Cannon II from the Tropical Fruit News of the Miami Tropical Fruit Council
Miracle Fruit and Chemotherapy from the Tropical Fruit News of the Miami Tropical Fruit Council
The Miracle Fruit by G. Joyner
from the Tropical Fruit News of the Miami Tropical Fruit Council



List of Growers and Vendors


Bibliography

1 "Miracle Fruit." crfg.org. 1996. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.
2 "Synsepalum dulcificum." wikipedia.org. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
3 Gollner, Adam Leith. "The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce, and Obsession." New York. Scribner, a Division of Simon & Shuster, Inc. 2008. Print.
4 Theerasilp S, Kurihara Y.  "Complete purification and characterization of the taste-modifying protein, miraculin, from miracle fruit." wikipedia.org.  J. Biol. Chem. 263 (23): 11536–9. PMID 3403544. Aug. 1988. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
5 Rowe, Aaron. "Super Lettuce Turns Sour Sweet". Wired Magazine. 12 July 2006. (Archived). Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
6 Whitman, William F. "Miracle Fruit." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. Museum of Science, 3280 South Miami Avenue, Miami, Florida 33129. Mar. 1994. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
7 Levin, Rachel B. "Ancient Berry, Modern Miracle: The Sweet Benefits of Miracle Fruit." wikipedia.org. thefoodpaper.com. 23 June 2009. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
8 Mangold, Tom. "Sweet and sour tale of the miracle berry." wikipedia.org. The Week. 28 Apr. 2008. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
9 "The miracle berry." wikipedia.org. BBC. 28 Apr. 2008. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
10 Gerritsen, Vivienne Baillie. "The sweet side of life." wikipedia.org. expasy.org. Dec. 2001.
11 McVicar Cannon, Donna. "The Old Sweet Lime Trick". quisqualis.com. Quisqualis Rare Fruit, Tropical Fruit and Rare Plant Information. 1992, 2006. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.
12 "Synsepalum dulcificum (Schumach. & Thonn.)" Daniell. The Plant List (2010). Version 1. theplantlist.org. Web. 3 Jan. 2017.
13 Synsepalum dulcificum: "Everyday Miracle - Grow the Dream!" toptropicals.com. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
14 Joyner, Gene. "The Miracle Fruit." ifas.ufl.edu. Palm Beach County Extension Service. N.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
15 Shapiro, Leo. Miracle Berry. The Encyclopedia of Life. eol.org. Under (CC BY 3.0). Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
16 Parmar, Chiranjit. "Synsepalum subcordatum." Fruitworld Online Magazine.  fruitipedia.com. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
17 Cannon II, Bob. G. "Synsepalum dulcificum Up Close and Personnal." quisqualis.com. Quisqualis Rare Fruit, Tropical Fruit and Rare Plant Information. 1992, 2006. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.
18 Lorenzi, Harri, Bacher, Luis, Lacerda, Marco and Sartori, Sergio. Brazillian Fruits & Cultivated Exotics (for consuming in natura). Brazil. Instituto Plantarum de Estudos da Flora LTDA. 2006. Print.
19 Whitman, William F. Five Decades with Tropical Fruit, A Personal Journey. Quiscalis Books in cooperation with Fairchild Tropical Garden. Southeastern Printing Company. Stuart, Slorida. U.S.A. 2001. Print.

Photographs

Fig. 1 Lyman, Hamale. Photo of Miracle berry. 2010. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 2,6 Starr, Forest and Kim. Synsepalum dulcificum (Miraculous berry, miracle fruit) leaves. 2007. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui. starrenvironmental.com. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 3,5,7,8,9,10,20 Kwan. Synsepalum dulcificum (Miracle Fruit). 2012. natureloveyou.sg. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 4 Manners, Malcolm. Flowering branch. n.d. tropical.theferns.info. Under (CC BY 2.0). Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
Fig. 11,12 Starr, Forest and Kim. Synsepalum dulcificum (Miraculous berry, miracle fruit). 2008. Makawao, Maui. starrenvironmental.com. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 13 Meneerke bloem. Synsepalum dulcificum (miracle berry). 2009. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 14 MiracleFruitFarm. Miracle Fruit berries sprout from white flowers. 2012. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 15 MiracleFruitFarm. Small plants can produce berries if grown from a cutting rather than a seed. 2013.  commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY 3.0). Web. 3 Jan. 2017.
Fig. 16 Miracle Fruit. N.d. toptropicals.com. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 17 MiracleFruitFarm. Fresh Miracle Fruit berries have a relatively short shelf life. 2013. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY 3.0). Web. 3 Jan. 2017.
Fig. 18 Radhakrishnan, Dinesh Kumar. Miracle fruit. 2013. flickr.com. Under  (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
Fig. 19 Klink, Alexander. Miracle Frooties, freeze-dried miracle fruit in tablet form. 2010. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY 3.0). Web. 3 Jan. 2017.
Fig. 21 MiracleFruitFarm. Miracle Fruit plants can grow up to 10' tall. 2013.  commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY 3.0). Web. 3 Jan. 2017.
Fig. 22 Synsepalum subcordatum - large leaf variety, 1 ft tall plant fruiting in 3 gal pot. N.d. toptropicals.com. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
Fig. 23 Synsepalum dulcificum - small leaf-variety, 1 ft tall plant fruiting in 3 gal pot. N.d. toptropicals.com. Web. 5 Jan. 2017.
Fig. 24 Starr, Forest and Kim. Synsepalum dulcificum (habit). Location: Maui, Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery. 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY 3.0). Web. 3 Jan. 2017. UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas

** Information provided is not intended to be used as a guide for treatment of medical conditions.

Published 3 Dec. 2014 LR. Last update 5 Jan. 2017 LR
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