Malpighia emarginata

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Malpighia emarginata
Malpighia glabra blossom and unripe fruits.jpg
Close-up of the blossom and unripe fruit
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Malpighiaceae
Genus: Malpighia
M. emarginata
Binomial name
Malpighia emarginata
  • Malpighia berteroana Spreng.
  • Malpighia lanceolata Griseb.
  • Malpighia punicifolia var. lancifolia Nied.
  • Malpighia punicifolia var. obovata Nied.
  • Malpighia punicifolia var. vulgaris Nied.
  • Malpighia retusa Benth.
  • Malpighia umbellata ROSE
  • Malpighia urens var. lanceolata (Griseb.) Griseb.
Acerola, (West Indian cherry), raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy134 kJ (32 kcal)
7.69 g
Dietary fiber1.1 g
0.3 g
0.4 g
Vitamin A equiv.
38 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.02 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.06 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.4 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.309 mg
Vitamin B6
0.009 mg
Folate (B9)
14 μg
Vitamin C
1677.6 mg
12 mg
0.2 mg
18 mg
0.6 mg
11 mg
146 mg
7 mg
0.1 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water91 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

Malpighia emarginata is a tropical fruit-bearing shrub or small tree in the family Malpighiaceae.

Common names include acerola cherry, Guarani cherry, Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry,[2] and wild crepe myrtle.[3] Acerola is native to Paraguay and Brazil in South America, Central America and southern Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Haiti, but is now also being grown as far north as Texas and in subtropical areas of Asia, such as India.

The fruit pulp is notable for its exceptional content of vitamin C (nutrition table).


Malpighia emarginata is originally from Yucatán, and can be found in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, South America as far south as Peru and Colombia,[4] and the southeast region of Brazil, and in the southernmost parts of the contiguous United States (southern Florida[5] and the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas).[5][6][7] In Florida, it can be grown in protected locations as far north as Cape Canaveral.[8] 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.[9]


Acerola can be propagated by seed, cutting, or other methods. It prefers dry, sandy soil and full sun, and cannot endure temperatures lower than 30 °F/-1 °C. Because of its shallow roots, it has very low tolerance to winds.


Acerola is an evergreen shrub or small tree with spreading branches on a short trunk. It is usually 2–3 m (6.6–9.8 ft) tall, but sometimes reaches 6 m (20 ft) in height.[10]


The leaves are simple ovate-lanceolate, 2–8 cm (0.79–3.15 in) long, 1–4 cm (0.39–1.57 in), and are attached to short petioles. They are opposite, ovate to elliptic-lanceolate, and have entire or undulating margins with small hairs, which can irritate skin.



Flowers are bisexual and 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) in diameter. They have five[10] pale to deep pink or red[11] fringed petals, 10 stamens, and six to 10 glands on the calyx. The three to five flowers per inflorescence are sessile or short-peduncled axillary cymes.[10]


Malpighia emarginata fruit

After three years, trees produce significant numbers of bright red drupes 1–3 cm (0.39–1.18 in) in diameter with a mass of 3–5 g (0.11–0.18 oz). Drupes are in pairs or groups of three, and each contains three triangular seeds. The drupes are juicy and high in vitamin C (300–4600 mg/100g)[12] and other nutrients. They are divided into three obscure lobes and are usually acidic to subacidic, giving them a sour taste,[10] but may be sweet if grown well.[13]


Acerola fruit is 91% water, 8% carbohydrates, and contains negligible protein and fat (table). In a 100 grams (3.5 oz) reference amount, acerola fruit provides an exceptional content of vitamin C at some 20 times of the Daily Value (DV) (table). The fruit also supplies manganese at 29% DV, while other micronutrients are uniformly low in content (table).



The fruit is edible and widely consumed in its native area, and is cultivated elsewhere for its high vitamin C content. About 1677 mg of vitamin C are in 100 g of fruit.[2] The fruit can be used to make juices and pulps, and vitamin C concentrate.[14]


Acerola is a popular bonsai subject because of its small leaf and fruit, and fine ramification. It is also grown as an ornamental[15] and for hedges.[9]


Malpighia emarginata is a host plant for the caterpillars of the white-patched skipper (Chiomara asychis),[16] Florida duskywing (Ephyriades brunneus),[17] and brown-banded skipper (Timochares ruptifasciatus).[18] Larvae of the acerola weevil (Anthonomus macromalus) feed on the fruits, while adults consume young leaves.[19] Pollination by wild insects increases the fruit yield.[20]


  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".
  2. ^ a b Johnson, Paul D. (2003). "Acerola (Malpighia glabra L., M. punicifolia M. emarginata DC.) Agriculture, Production, and Nutrition". In Artemis P. Simopoulos; C. Gopalan (eds.). Plants in Human Health and Nutrition Policy. Vol. 91. Karger Publishers. pp. 63–74. ISBN 978-3-8055-7554-6.
  3. ^ "Malpighia glabra L. wild crapemyrtle". PLANTS Database. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on May 17, 2006. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "Malpighia emarginata". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  6. ^ "Malpighia glabra". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2009-12-16.
  7. ^ "Barbados Cherry, Mexican Myrtle, Manzanita, Cerez, Huacacote, Wild Crepe Myrtle, Manyonita, Cerezo de Jamaica, Cerezo de Castillo, Pallo de Gallina, Escobillo, Chia, Arrayncito, Xocat, Xocatatl Malpighia glabra". Benny Simpson's Texas Native Shrubs. Texas A&M University. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
  8. ^ Boning, Charles (2006). Florida's Best Fruiting Plants: Native and Exotic Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc. p. 41.
  9. ^ a b Hanelt, Peter (2001). Mansfeld's Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops (Except Ornamentals). Springer. pp. 1127–1128. ISBN 978-3-540-41017-1.
  10. ^ a b c d "Malpighia glabra L. Malpighiaceae" (PDF). Agroforestree Database 4.0. World Agroforestry Centre. 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-16.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ National Geographic (2008). Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World's Food Plants. National Geographic Books. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-4262-0372-5.
  12. ^ Vendramini T, Tugo L (2000). "Chemical Composition of acerola fruit (Malpighia punicifolia L.) at three stage of maturity". Food Chemistry. 71 (2): 195–198. doi:10.1016/s0308-8146(00)00152-7.
  13. ^ Nugent, Jeff; Julia Boniface (2004). Permaculture Plants: a Selection (2 ed.). Chelsea Green Publishing. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-85623-029-2.
  14. ^ De Assis S, Fernandes F, Martins A, Oliveira O (2008). "Acerola: importance, culture, conditions, production and biochemical aspects" (PDF). Fruits. 63 (2): 93–101. doi:10.1051/fruits:2007051. hdl:11449/25341.
  15. ^ Gillman, Edward F. (October 1999). "Malpighia glabra" (PDF). Cooperative Extension Services Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. University of Florida. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-16.
  16. ^ "White-patched Skipper Chiomara georgina (Reakirt, 1868)". Butterflies and Moths of North America. Archived from the original on 2010-06-20. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  17. ^ "Florida Duskywing Ephyriades brunnea (Herrich-Schäffer, 1865)". Butterflies and Moths of North America. Archived from the original on 2010-06-20. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  18. ^ "Brown-banded Skipper Timochares ruptifasciata (Plötz, 1884)". Butterflies and Moths of North America. Archived from the original on 2010-06-20. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  19. ^ Ooi, P.A.C.; A. Winotai; Jorge E. Peña (2002). "Pests of Minor Tropical Fruits". In Jorge E. Peña; Jennifer L. Sharp; M. Wysoki (eds.). Tropical Fruit Pests and Pollinators: Biology, Economic Importance, Natural Enemies, and Control. CABI. p. 326. ISBN 978-0-85199-434-5.
  20. ^ Garibaldi, L. A.; Steffan-Dewenter, I.; Winfree, R.; Aizen, M. A.; et al. (28 February 2013). "Wild Pollinators Enhance Fruit Set of Crops Regardless of Honey Bee Abundance". Science. 339 (6127): 1608–1611. Bibcode:2013Sci...339.1608G. doi:10.1126/science.1230200. PMID 23449997. S2CID 88564525.

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