EUGENIA UNIFLORA A NUTRITIOUS, EASY-TO-GROW FRUIT FOR THE TROPICS
Eugenia uniflora L. (Pitanga, Surinam cherry, Pitangueira) is native to Brazil and other countries in Northern South America. It is a fast-growing shrub or small tree that grows to six meters and usually produces two crops per year of relatively small (2.5 to 3.0 cm), juicy fruits. The fruits ripen quickly, taking only about six to seven weeks to reach maturity from anthesis. The mature fruit range in color from light to dark red, to almost black, and have flesh of a lighter, similar hue. The juicy sweet-acid pulp encloses one or occasionally more seeds. The fruits, especially the dark purple ones, are an excellent source for antioxidants such as cyanidin-3-glucoside and delphinidin-3-glucoside, as well as xanthophylls such as rubixanthin and lutein. The fruits are also especially rich in the carotenoid lycopene. The pulp is also a good source of calcium and a fair source of phosphorus and iron. The ripe fruits are perhaps the best of the edible eugenias and can be eaten fresh or processed into frozen pulp, juices, jams, jellies, and various other food items. Although the plants prosper in soil with abundant organic matter and a pH of 5.5-6.5, they can grow and fruit in a wide diversity of soils from heavy acid clays to pure sand to high-pH limestone soils. They grow well and produce fruits in full sun or partial shade. They are relatively easy to grow without fertilization although they respond very positively to fertilizer and water applications. Plants come into bearing from seed in about three to four years, although (grafted) improved varieties can produce larger, more flavorful fruits with higher levels of antioxidants one year after grafting. Trials in progress at the University of Hawaii will provide organic-farming certified and non-organic fertilizer recommendations for small-scale producers. Additional laboratory analysis on chemical and nutritional contents of mature fruits will allow for further selection and development of superior clones. Grafting trials using the improved purple cultivar Zill Dark are yielding good success rates with veneer grafts.
Griffis, Jr., J.L., McDonald, T.G., Smith, V.E. and Manners, M.M. (2009). EUGENIA UNIFLORA A NUTRITIOUS, EASY-TO-GROW FRUIT FOR THE TROPICS. Acta Hortic. 806, 277-284
antioxidants, xanthophylls, lycopene, Myrtaceae, pitanga, Surinam cherry, pitangueira, veneer graft