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Cerisier de Cayenne (Eugenia uniflora) - Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton © MNHN - Agnès Iatzoura
Cerisier de Cayenne (Eugenia uniflora) - Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton © MNHN - Agnès Iatzoura

Suriname cherry

The Cayenne cherry, Eugenia uniflora, bears fruit which is eaten as a jam, as jelly or is served with sugar, like strawberries. They are rich in vitamin C and are a source of Vitamin A. The leaves are consumed as a tea in Uruguay.

Identity Card

Common name
Suriname cherry, pitanga, Cayenne cherry
Binominal name
Eugenia uniflora Berg.

Taxonomy

Kingdom
Plantae
Famille
Myrtaceae
Synonyme
Eugenia bergii Nied. in Engl. & Prantl

Detailed Informations

Régions d'origine
South America

Etymology

Eugenia is a genus named in honour of Prince Eugene of Savoy. Uniflora means “which bears solitary flowers”.

Description and flowering period

This cone-shaped shrub can reach up to 8 meters in height. Its opposite lanceolate leaves are bronze in colour when young and later turn a shiny dark shade of green. In winter, they turn completely red. Its white flowers – either solitary or in small clusters – bear numerous slender stamens. They are very fragrant and highly attractive to bees. The fruits are small juicy berries which are highly sought after by birds who disseminate the seeds. There are a lot of different varieties of Suriname cherry offering a wide range of flavours from sweet to sour as well as spicy.

Habitat

It requires prefers a predominantly sandy free-draining soil in a warm and humid climate. It can withstand occasional light frost. The species is highly pest-resistant.

Uses

  • Ornamental, especially in hedges or in the bonsai trade.
  • Food & drink: The fruit which is rich in vitamin C, is used in jams or jellies or eaten raw with sugar just like strawberries; the leaves are infused to make tea in Uruguay.
  • Household item: The leaves are scattered inside the home as they release a scent when bruised by footsteps which repulses flies.
  • Medicinal: In Brazil, leaves are infused for their effects on stomach-aches, fevers and their astringent properties, also used against colds in Suriname. Its essential oil is also used to treat diabetes and high blood pressure.

Notes

The seeds are extremely sticky and should not be eaten. The bark peels off in large chunks in older subjects.

Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN