Botanical Name: Malpighia emarginata
Species: M. emarginata
*Malpighia berteroana Spreng.
*Malpighia lanceolata Griseb.
*Malpighia punicifolia var. lancifolia Nied.
*Malpighia punicifolia var. obovata Nied.
*Malpighia punicifolia var. vulgaris Nied.
*Malpighia retusa Benth.
*Malpighia umbellata Rose
*Malpighia urens var. lanceolata (Griseb.) Griseb.
Common Names:Acerola cherry (Spanish), Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry, Wild crepe myrtle and Seriz (Haitian Creole).
Barbados cherry is native to South America, southern Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Brazil, and Central America, but is now also being grown as far north as Texas and in subtropical areas of Asia, such as India.
Barbados cherry is an evergreen shrub or small tree with spreading branches on a short trunk. It is usually 2–3 m (6.6–9.8 ft) tall, but sometimes reaches 6 m (20 ft) in height.
The leaves are simple ovate-lanceolate, 2–8 cm (0.79–3.15 in) long, 1–4 cm (0.39–1.57 in), and are attached to short petioles. They are opposite, ovate to elliptic-lanceolate, and have entire or undulating margins with small hairs, which can irritate skin.
Flowers are bisexual and 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) in diameter. They have five pale to deep pink or red fringed petals, 10 stamens, and six to 10 glands on the calyx. The three to five flowers per inflorescence are sessile or short-peduncled axillary cymes.
After three years, trees produce significant numbers of bright red drupes 1–3 cm (0.39–1.18 in) in diameter with a mass of 3–5 g (0.11–0.18 oz). Drupes are in pairs or groups of three, and each contains three triangular seeds. The drupes are juicy and very high in vitamin C (3-46 g/kg) and other nutrients. They are divided into three obscure lobes and are usually acidic to subacidic, giving them a sour taste, but may be sweet if grown well. While the nutrient composition depends on the strain and environmental conditions, the most common components of acerola and their concentration ranges, per 1000 g, are: proteins (2.1-8.0 g), lipids (2.3-8.0 g), carbohydrates (35.7-78 g), calcium (117 mg), phosphorus (171 mg), iron (2.4 mg), pyridoxine (87 mg), riboflavin (0.7 mg), thiamine (0.2 mg), water (906-920 g), and dietary fibre (30 g). Barbados cherry also have antifungal and antibacterial properties.
The fruit is edible and widely consumed in the species’ native area, and is cultivated elsewhere for its high vitamin C content. About 1677 mg of vitamin C are in 100 g of fruit. The fruit can be used to make juices and pulps, vitamin C concentrate, and baby food, among other things.
A comparative analysis of antioxidant potency among a variety of frozen juice pulps was carried out, including the acerola fruit. Among the 11 fruit pulps tested, acerola was the highest-scoring fruit, meaning it had the most antioxidant potency, with a Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity score of 53.2 mg.
*Barbados cherry is a natural antioxidant.
*It is an immune system buster.
*This fruit is used to treat dysentery and diarrhea,
*It helps liver disorders.
*Barbados cherry lowers cholesterol.
*It prevents gum problems.
*Barbados cherry Fruit improves mood.
*It prevents heart disease.
Acerola is a popular bonsai subject because of its small leaf and fruit, and fine ramification. It is also grown as an ornamental and for hedges.
It is one of three ingredients in a proprietary herbal medicine for allergic rhinitis.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.