I love learning about and eating many different fruits, especially ones that aren’t normally grown in the United States, particularly here in Arizona. Time for one of my all-time favorite fruits to grow and eat, the Acerola Cherry. Also known as the Barbados Cherry.
In this post, you will learn all about the Acerola cherry or Barbados cherry. I will tell you where it comes from and grows, what the nutritional benefits are, how to eat it, and what it tastes like. If you are looking for an amazing drought-tolerant fruit tree/shrub this may just be it.
Where does the Acerola Cherry or Barbados Cherry come from?
The Malpighia emarginata or Malpighia glabra, with acerola cherry, Barbados cherry, wild crepe myrtle, or West Indian cherry being the common names is a tropical fruit-bearing tree or bushy shrub. Mature trees range in size between 6 and 20 feet in height.
The Barbados cherries aren’t really cherries like a classic stone-fruit cherry tree. But they are pretty much the same size and are known as drupes.
The Acerola cherry shrub or small tree is evergreen. It doesn’t lose its leaves in the fall. However over or underwatering can cause the leaves to get yellow and fall off.
They are originally from the Yucatan but can be found all over the tropics. You can find them in Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Peru, Brazil, Puerto Rico, the West Indies, the Canary Islands, Ghana, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, India, Jamaica, and Australia among other places.
Here in the United States, they are cultivated in Hawaii, Florida, and South Texas. USDA Zones 9b-11 are the best zones to grow them in. This tree can be grown in most warm climates with low chill hours with either dry weather or a long rainy season.
I love the Acerola cherry because although it is more of a tropical shrub it grows extremely well in the Phoenix area. It is very fast growing and it can withstand full sun or can be in partial shade in temps of 120F with no problem, and it has a decent drought tolerance as well. However, they don’t like temps below 30F. In that case, you would need cold protection like heaters or plant them in a greenhouse.
The Acerola tree is fairly expensive and is the most expensive tree/shrub that I have bought. My sapling cost $65. I had it on my patio in a pot for a few years, but they don’t grow well in pots.
Barbados cherry trees have long taproots. So eventually I planted mine in my parent’s backyard where it is thriving.
The Acerola cherry can be grown from seed or from cuttings. I successfully sprouted cuttings which I also planted in my parent’s yard.
Also, these are heavy producers with beautiful pink flowers. With two crops during the year usually early summer and fall. You can let it grow tall and prune it to be more tree-like, or you can shape it into a wonderful hedge. They are fairly easy fruit trees to grow.
What are the nutritional benefits of the Barbados Cherry?
The acerola cherry is very nutritious. And has the following benefits:
- Very high in Vitamin C
- Good amounts of calcium, iron, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, and thiamine
- Supports and boosts the immune system
- May help treat liver ailments, diarrhea, coughs, and colds.
For more health benefits visit healthline.com
How do you eat the Acerola cherry or Barbados cherry?
How do you eat them? First of all, you need to pick the small red fruits when they are ripe. They start off as small pink flowers and then as they get pollinated they grow into small cherries. They are ripe when they are very dark red or more of a purple color, that is when they will be the sweetest as well.
The ripe fruit will fall off the tree very easily. Unfortunately, the fruit falls off very easily in high winds. Many times, I have lost many cherries due to the wind blowing them off before they were ripe.
Also, birds love to eat these, so you may need to put up netting to keep them safe.
Eat it like you would a classic cherry. Pop the edible fruit in your mouth and use your teeth and tongue to eat around the three little seeds inside. Unlink traditional cherries, the Acerola cherry has three little pits.
You can eat them fresh as is or juice them.
What does the Acerola cherry taste like?
These wonderful “cherries” are juicy, sweet, fragrant, and a little tart with a hint of astringence. The skin is deep red or purple and on the inside the flesh is yellowish-orange.
The pulp or flesh is soft and easy to eat. Unripe cherries will be tart and more astringent tasting. It is hard to compare the taste to other fruits, maybe a mix between an apple, cherry, and plum.
I really love the Barbados Cherry or Acerola. It is such an amazing fruit to grow and eat. And it is fairly easy to take care of. Time to grow your own Barbados cherry tree and enjoy the juicy red fruit and fresh juice they provide.
Hopefully, you enjoyed learning about this wonderful fruit. Drop a comment down below and let me know if you have any experience with it.
Watch the video I made about the Acerola Cherry!
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