|Jamaica Cherry - Muntingia calabura L.|
Muntingia calabura leaf habit
Muntingia calabura flower habit
Common Emigrant Catopsilia pomona in Hyderabad ,India
Muntingia calabura (Jamaican cherry, strawberry tree). Leaves and immature fruit at Pali o Waipio Huelo, Maui, Hawaii
Tickell's Flowerpecker or Pale-billed Flowerpecker Dicaeum erythrorhynchos feeding on a Muntingia calabura at Lotus Pond, Hyderabad, India
Muntingia calabura L.
In Mexico, local names for the latter are capolin, palman, bersilana, jonote and puan; in Guatemala and Costa Rica, Muntingia calabura is called capulin blanco; in El Salvador, capulin de comer; in Panama, pasito or majagüillo; in Colombia, chitató, majagüito, chirriador, acuruco, tapabotija and nigua; in Venezuela, majagua, majaguillo, mahaujo, guácimo hembra, cedrillo, niguo, niguito; in Ecuador, nigüito; in Peru, bolina, iumanasa, yumanaza, guinda yunanasa, or mullacahuayo; in Brazil, calabura or pau de seda; in Argentina, cedrillo majagua; in Cuba, capulina, chapuli; in Haiti, bois d' orme; bois de soie marron; in the Dominican Republic, memiso or memizo; in Guadeloupe, bois ramier or bois de soie; in the Philippines, datiles, ratiles, latires, cereza or seresa; in Thailand, takop farang or ta kob farang; in Cambodia, kakhop; in Vietnam, cay trung ca; in Malaya, buah cheri; kerukup siam or Japanese cherry; in India, Chinese cherry or Japanese cherry; in Ceylon, jam fruit 1
Muntingia calabura var. trinitensis Griseb., Muntingia rosea H.Karst. 5
USDA hardiness zones
Tropical to near-tropical 1
Consumed fresh, made into jellies or jams 3
30 ft (9.144 m)
Irregular or pyramidal canopy 2
Slender tree with spreading, nearly horizontal branches that start close to the ground, sometimes drooping at the tips 2
Extremely fast growing
Short lived 3
Semi-deciduous; simple; oblong and pointed at the ends; hairy on the underside 1
Small, white, borne in leaf axils, wilt withing hours after they form
Sweet and delicious, comparable in taste to a fig, and contain many tiny seeds
All year on mature trees - though flowering and fruiting are interrupted in Florida during the 4 coolest months
No special soil requirements
Soil salt tolerance
Not salt tolerant
28 °F (-2.2°C)
Invasive potential *
Has escaped cultivation in south Florida and is considered an invasive exotic in various countries 2
No serious pests have been reported, apart from bats
Falling fruit and bird droppings containing fruit remnants can stain walks and patios 2
Jamaica Cherry from Julia Morton's Book Fruits of Warm Climates
This Tree's a 'Sweety' from the Archives of the Rare fruit Council of Australia
In Florida, it has been nicknamed strawberry tree because its blooms resemble strawberry blossoms, but strawberry tree is a well-established name for the European ornamental and fruit tree, Arbutus unedo L., often cultivated in the western and southern United States, and should not be transferred to the Jamaica cherry. 1
The Jamaica cherry is indigenous to southern Mexico, Central America, tropical South America, the Greater Antilles, St. Vincent and Trinidad. 1
This is a very fast-growing tree reaching 25 to 40 ft (7.5-12 m) in height, with spreading, nearly horizontal branches. 1
Fig. 21. Muntingia calabura (Jamaican cherry, strawberry tree). Trunk at Pali o Waipio Huelo, Maui, Hawaii
Fig. 22. Singapur cherry Muntingia calabura in Hyderabad , India.
The leaves are oblong and pointed at the ends 5-12.5 cm long, dark-green on the upper surface, and somewhat hairy on the underside. 1
Fig. 4. Muntingia calabura leaf habit
The flowers are tiny, 1/4-1/2 in. (1.25-2 cm) wide, and last less than a day, typically dropping off the tree in the afternoon! The flowers grow in 2's or 3's from where leaf attaches to the branch. 1
Fig. 10. Muntingia calabura. Elaeocarpaceae (Jamaica cherry family)
The abundant fruits are round, 3/8 to 1/2 in (1-1.25 cm) wide, with red or sometimes yellow, smooth, thin, tender skin and light-brown, soft, juicy pulp, with very sweet, musky, somewhat fig-like flavor, filled with exceedingly minute, yellowish seeds, too fine to be noticed in eating. 1
Fig. 14. Jamaica cherry fruit mature and unripe
Fig. 15. Muntingia calabura L. Quả cây trứng cá
Brazilian planters sow directly into the field fresh seeds mixed with the sweet juice of the fruit. To prepare seeds for future planting, water is added repeatedly to the squeezed-out seeds and juice and, as the seeds sink to the bottom of the container, the water is poured off several times until the seeds are clean enough for drying in the shade. 1
The tree is not particular in its soil requirements; however it thrives on a general fertilising with generous mulching and watering. It will grow quite comfortably in
full sun. 4
In Florida, in recent years, the fruits are infested with the larvae of the Caribbean fruit fly. 1
Caribbean Fruit Fly, Anastrepha suspensa (Loew) (Insecta: Diptera: Tephritidae) from the University of Florida pdf 8 pages
The foliage is subject to leaf spot caused by Phyllosticta sp. and Pseudocercospora muntingiae (formerly Cercospora muntingiae), and the tree is subject to crown gall caused by Agrobacterium tumefaciens. 1
The Jamaica cherry is widely eaten by children out-of-hand, though it is somewhat sticky to handle. It is often cooked in tarts and made into jam. 1
Medicinal Uses **
In Asia, a decoction of the leaves becomes an antidiarrhetic, a bark decoction is used as an emollient, and an infusion of the flowers for headache relief. 4
The flowers are said to possess antiseptic properties. An infusion of the flowers is valued as an antispasmodic. It is taken to relieve headache and the first symptoms of a cold. 1
The soft pliable bark may be twisted into rope. 4
The sapwood is yellowish, the heartwood red-dish-brown, firm, compact, fine-grained, moderately strong, light in weight, durable indoors, easily worked, and useful for interior sheathing, small boxes, casks, and general carpentry. It is valued mostly as fuel, for it ignites quickly, burns with intense heat and gives off very little smoke. Jamaicans seek out trees blown down by storms, let them dry for a while and then cut them up, preferring this to any other wood for cooking. It is being evaluated in Brazil as a source of paper pulp. 1
Jamaica Cherry Botanical Art
List of Growers and Vendors
1 Morton, J. "Jamaica Cherry." hort.purdue.edu. Fruits of warm climates, p. 65-69. 1987. Web. 5 Jan. 2015.
Boning, Charles. Florida's Best Fruiting
Plants: Native and Exotic Trees, Shrubs and Vines. Sarasota,
Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc. p. 104.
Fig. 1,12,13,14,23 Muntingla calabura L. N.d. toptropicals.com. Top Tropicals Plant Catalog. Web. 7 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 2,6,17,18 Paton, Steve. Muntingla calabura L. N.d. Environmental Sciences Program, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. stri.si.edu. Web. 7 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 9 Starr, Forest and Kim. Muntingia calabura (Jamaican cherry, strawberry tree). Leaves and immature fruit at Pali o Waipio Huelo, Maui, Hawaii. 2014. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-SA 2.0). Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
Fig. 16,20 Kwan. Muntingla calabura L. 2008. natureloveyou.sg. Web. 7 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 24 Garg, J.M. Tickell's Flowerpecker or Pale-billed Flowerpecker Dicaeum erythrorhynchos feeding on a Muntingia calabura fruit at Lotus Pond, Hyderabad, India. 2009. commons.wikimedia.org. Under GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Web. 15 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 5 Feb. 2015 LR. Last update 16 Jan. 2017 LR