Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Muntingia calabura)

Flower close-up.
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Muntingiaceae
Genus: Muntingia
M. calabura
Binomial name
Muntingia calabura
  • Muntingia rosea H.Karst.
  • Muntingia calabura var. trinitensis Griseb.

Muntingia is a genus of plants in the family Muntingiaceae, comprising only one species, Muntingia calabura,[2][3] and was named in honour of Abraham Munting. It is native to the Neotropics, from Mexico south to Bolivia and Argentina, with edible fruit, and has been widely introduced in other tropical areas.


Muntingia calabura is a shrub or tree that grows fast up between 7.5 to 12 m tall with spreading branches.[4] The leaves are alternate, distichous, oblong or lanceolate, 4–15 cm long and 1–6 cm wide, with toothed margin and covered in short hairs.[4][5][6]

The flowers are small (up to 3 cm wide), solitary or in inflorescences of two or three flowers, with five lanceolate sepals, hairy, five obovate white petals, many stamens with yellow anthers, and a smooth ovoid ovary.[4][5][6] The flowers last only one day, their petals drop in the afternoon.[3]

Its fruit is an edible berry with about 1.5 cm wide in diameter and smooth, thin skin; they are green when unripe turning into red when they are mature.[4][5][3] Its pulp is light-brown and juicy, with very fine seeds; the pulp tastes like fig.[3]

A tree in Hyderabad, India

Distribution and habitat[edit]

M. calabura is native to southern Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and western South America south to Bolivia and Argentina.[2][4][7] It is present in tropical climate in disturbed lowland areas from sea level to 1000 m of elevation.[2][5] In South India, it is seen in the areas adjacent to the Western Ghat.


This species colonizes disturbed habitats in tropical lowland areas, becoming part of the secondary vegetation, as well as gallery forests.[4][8] It thrives in poor soil, able to tolerate acidic and alkaline conditions and drought, but doesn't grow in saline conditions.[4]

The seeds are dispersed by birds and fruit bats.[4]

Although native to tropical America, M. calabura has been introduced in Southeast Asia and naturalized there and in other tropical parts of the world.[2][6][9]

Vernacular names[edit]

Common names include:

Leaves and fruit


M. calabura is planted as a source of timber and fuel. Its soft wood used for rural construction, while the bark is fibrous and used for making ropes.[2][8]

The fruits are edible and in some cases sold in markets, as they can be eaten raw or processed as jam; leaves can be used for making tea.[4][8] Also, traditional medicinal uses have been reported for the leaves (headaches, prostate problems, reduce gastric ulcers), bark (antiseptic), flowers (antiseptic, reduce swelling, antispasmodic), and fruits (respiratory problems; antidiarrheic).[2][8][12]

It is said to help diabetic patients. A small reduction was recorded in patients' blood sugar levels after consumption [citation needed].

It is planted as an ornamental species,[8] for shade, and also because the flowers are a source of nectar and pollen for the beekeeping industry.[8]

The tree is also planted along river banks in Brazil, as fallen fruits attract fish.[2]

M. calabura has a potential as a useful species for restoration of disturbed areas and stopping soil erosion.[8] It also offers shelter for wildlife, as it is a source of food for about 60 species of birds and mammals.[8]


M. calabura can be propagated from seed, seedlings, or cuttings.[8] In Costa Rica, seeds set in the wet season, but require conditions of light and temperature found in forest gaps.[13] In a test where seeds were placed in wet paper towel at 25 °C, a total of 44% of seeds germinated in white light, while none germinated in dark conditions.[13]

Cultural references[edit]

Sri Lankan author Carl Muller chose this tree as the title for his first novel, The Jam Fruit Tree. In the novel, the tree represents the Burgher community of Sri Lanka, "a race of fun-loving, hardy people, much like the jam fruit tree which simply refuses to be contained or destroyed."[14] The book won the Gratiaen Prize for the best published work in the English language in 1993.


  1. ^ "Muntingia calabura L." World Flora Online. The World Flora Online Consortium. Retrieved 20 July 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Neotropical Muntingiaceae - Neotropikey from Kew". www.kew.org. Archived from the original on 15 July 2017. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  3. ^ a b c d e Morton, Julia F. (1987). "Jamaica cherry". Fruits of warm climates. Miami, Florida, USA: New Crop Resource Online Program, Center for New Crops and Plant Products, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University. p. 65–69. ISBN 978-0-9610184-1-2.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Lim, Dr T. K. (2012). "Muntingia calabura". Edible Medicinal And Non Medicinal Plants. Vol. 3. Springer Netherlands. pp. 486–492. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-2534-8_62. ISBN 9789400725331.
  5. ^ a b c d Smith Jr., C.E. (1965). "Elaeocarpaceae. In: Flora of Panama, part VI". Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. 52 (4): 494–495. doi:10.2307/2394991. JSTOR 2394991.
  6. ^ a b c Nelson, Gil (2010). The Trees of Florida: A Reference and Field Guide. Pineapple Press Inc. pp. 268–269. ISBN 9781561644759.
  7. ^ Boning, Charles R. (2006). Florida's Best Fruiting Plants. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc. p. 111.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Vázquez-Yanes, C.; Batis Muñoz, A. I.; Alcocer Silva, M. I.; Gual Díaz, M.; Sánchez Dirzo, C. (1999). "Muntingia calabura" (PDF). Árboles y arbustos potencialmente valiosos para la restauración ecológica y la reforestación. Reporte técnico del proyecto J084 (in Spanish). CONABIO - UNAM.
  9. ^ Hanelt, Peter; Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (2001). Mansfeld's Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: (Except Ornamentals). Springer Science & Business Media. p. 1560. ISBN 9783540410171.
  10. ^ a b c d "Muntingia calabura". GRIN-Global Web v U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  11. ^ Determinacion del tiempo y temperatura òptima del secado de Muntingia calabura L.(Frutilla, Niguito)
  12. ^ Mahmood, N. D.; Nasir, N. L. M.; Rofiee, M. S.; Tohid, S. F. M.; Ching, S. M.; Teh, L. K.; Salleh, M. Z.; Zakaria, Z. A. (2014). "Muntingia calabura: A review of its traditional uses, chemical properties, and pharmacological observations" (PDF). Pharmaceutical Biology. 52 (12): 1598–1623. doi:10.3109/13880209.2014.908397. ISSN 1388-0209. PMID 25068675.
  13. ^ a b Baskin, Carol C.; Baskin, Jerry M. (2001). Seeds: Ecology, Biogeography, and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination. Elsevier. pp. 259, 275. ISBN 9780120802630.
  14. ^ "The Jam Fruit Tree". Penguin India. Retrieved 2021-07-05.

External links[edit]