Herbs & Plants

Malpighia glabra

Botanical Name: Malpighia glabra
Family: Malpighiaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales
Genus: Malpighia
Species: M. glabra

*Bunchosia parvifolia S.Watson
*Malpighia biflora Poir.
*Malpighia dicipiens Sessé & Moc.
*Malpighia fallax Salisb.
*Malpighia lucida Pav. ex A. Juss.
*Malpighia lucida Pav. ex Moric.
*Malpighia myrtoides Moritz ex Nied.

Common Names: Escobillo, Acerola,Barbados Cherry, Wild Crapemyrtle,

Habitat: Malpighia glabra is native to C. America – Mexico to northern S. America and the Caribbean. It grows on rocky limestone, from sea level to 1,000 metres[307 ]. Thrives at elevations between sea level and 800 metres, but it can be found at elevations up to 1,700 metres.

The Barbados cherry is a shrub or small tree that grows up to 15 feet tall with wide spread branches and evergreen oval leaves. The leaves are evergreen, simple, 0.5-15 cm long, with an entire, wavy margin. The flowers are solitary or in umbels of two to several together, each flower 1-2 cm diameter, with five pink or white petals. The fruit is a red, orange or purple drupe, containing 2-3 hard seeds. It is sweet and juicy, and very rich in vitamin C, up to 65 times that of an orange. Eaten fresh or as flavoring for drinks. Commonly used in parts of South America to flavor ice creams, drinks, and cocktails.


A plant of the subtropics to hot, tropical, lowland areas with medium to high rainfall. It can be found at elevations up to 1,700 metres, but does best below 800 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 24 – 30°c, but can tolerate 5 – 34°c. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -2°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at -1°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,300 – 2,000mm, but tolerates 700 – 2,400mm. Tolerates seasonally dry periods. Easily grown in a good soil and a sunny position. Prefers a rich, deep and well drained soil but is able to tolerate a variety of soil conditions. Sandy soils carry an increasing risk of nematode infection. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 – 7.5, tolerating 5 – 8. Requires a pH in excess of 5.5. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants are fairly tolerant of salt-laden winds. Seedlings can fruit when only 2 – 3 years old, but are not always of as good quality as their parents. Trees start to produce well 3 – 4 years after planting and continue for 15 years. Plants can produce several flushes of flowers each year. The flowers are very attractive to bees. Plants can produce 2 – 3 crops of fruit a year. Individual trees can produce 15 – 30 kilos of fruit each year. Yields of 6.7 – 105 tonnes per hectare have been recorded. Plants usually require cross-pollination to ensure a good fruit set, though there are some reports of self-fertilization. Flowering Time: Mid Spring Late Spring/Early Summer. Bloom Color: Rose/Mauve. Spacing: 15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m).

Seed – germination is slow, with only 5 – 50% of the seed germinating.

Edible Uses:
Fruits are eaten – raw or cooked. The bright red fruit can range in flavour from sweet to somewhat acid. As well as being eaten out of hand, they can also be stewed, made into juices, sauces, jellies, jams, wines or purees. The ovoid fruit is 10 – 35mm in diameter.

Medicinal Uses:
In Suriname’s traditional medicine the leaves are used against dysentery and diarrhea. Also used for liver ailments; fruit used against the common cold.
The fruits are considered beneficial against liver problems, diarrhoea, dysentery, coughs and colds. The bark exudes a gum that is recommended as a pectoral

Agroforestry Uses: The plants are suitable for hedges.

Other Uses: The bark has been used as a source of tannin. The wood is hard and heavy. It can be used for making small utensils.

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.


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