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Malpighia emarginata Acerola   Malpighiaceae

Malpighia emarginata, acerola

Malpighia emarginata, acerola

Malpighia emarginata is a tropical fruit-bearing shrub or small tree in the family Malpighiaceae. Common names include acerola, Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry and wild crapemyrtle.

M. emarginata can be found in the southernmost parts of the contiguous United States southern Florida and the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas), Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America as far south as Peru and Minas Gerais in Brazil. It is cultivated in the tropics and subtropics throughout the world, including the Canary Islands, Ghana, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, India, Java, Hawaii, and Australia.

Acerola is an evergreen shrub or small tree with spreading branches on a short trunk. It is usually 23 m (6.69.8 ft) tall, but sometimes reaches 6 m (20 ft) in height.

The leaves are simple ovate-lanceolate, 28 cm (0.793.1 in) long, 14 cm (0.391.6 in), and are attached to short petioles. They are opposite, ovate to elliptic-lanceolate, and have entire or undulating margins. Top sides are dark green and glossy.

Flowers are bisexual and 12 cm (0.390.79 in) in diameter. They have five pale to deep pink or red fringed petals, ten stamens, and six to ten glands on the calyx. There are three to five flowers per inflorescence, which are sessile or short-peduncled axillary cymes.

The fruit is a bright red drupe 13 cm (0.391.2 in) in diameter with a mass of 35 g (0.110.18 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 and other nutrients. They are divided into three obscure lobes and are usually acid to sub acid, giving them a sour taste, but may be sweet if grown well.
As food
Close-up on the blossom and unripe fruits

The fruit is edible and widely consumed in the species' native area, and is cultivated elsewhere for its high vitamin C content. There are 1677.6 mg of vitamin C in 100 g of fruit.

In the 1950s, a manufacturer of baby food decided apple juice was milder for infants than orange juice. The company claimed a drop of acerola juice in an 8 oz. can of apple juice provided the amount of vitamin C of an equal amount of orange juice. A detailed nutrition facts analysis shows acerola juice does contain 32 times the amount of vitamin C in orange juice, supporting the claim.
Other uses

Acerola is a popular bonsai subject because of its small leaf, fruit and fine ramification. It is also grown as an ornamental and for hedges.

Malpighia emarginata, acerola Malpighia emarginata, acerola Malpighia emarginata, acerola