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Singapur cherry (Muntingia calabura) in Hyderabad, AP W IMG 9597.jpg
Flower close-up.
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
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] It is native to the neotropics, from Mexico south to Bolivia.


Muntingia calabura is a shrub or tree up to 12 m tall with spreading branches.[3] 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.[3][4][5] 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.[3][4][5] Fruit, an edible berry, is red at maturity, about 1.5 cm wide.[3][4]

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][3][6] It is present in tropical climate in disturbed lowland areas from sea level to 1000 m of elevation.[4][2]


This species colonize disturbed habitats in tropical lowland areas, becoming part of the secondary vegetation, as well as gallery forests.[3][7] It thrives in poor soil, able to tolerate acidic and alkaline conditions and drought, but doesn't grow on saline conditions.[3]

The seeds are dispersed by birds and fruit bats.[3]

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][5][8]

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][7]

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.[3][7] 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][7][10]

It is planted as an ornamental species,[7] and also because the flowers are a source of nectar and pollen for the beekeeping industry.[7]

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.[7] It also offers shelter for wildlife, as it is a source of food for about 60 species of birds and mammals.[7]


M. calabura can be propagated from seed, seedlings, or cuttings.[7] In Costa Rica, seeds set in the wet season, but require conditions of light and temperature found in forest gaps.[11] 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.[11]


  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Neotropical Muntingiaceae - Neotropikey from Kew". Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Lim, Dr T. K. (2012). "Muntingia calabura". Edible Medicinal And Non Medicinal Plants. 3. Springer Netherlands. pp. 486–492. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-2534-8_62. ISBN 9789400725331.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b c Nelson, Gil (2010). The Trees of Florida: A Reference and Field Guide. Pineapple Press Inc. pp. 268–269. ISBN 9781561644759.
  6. ^ Boning, Charles R. (2006). Florida's Best Fruiting Plants. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc. p. 111.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ a b c d "Muntingia calabura". GRIN-Global Web v U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  10. ^ 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". Pharmaceutical Biology. 52 (12): 1598–1623. doi:10.3109/13880209.2014.908397. ISSN 1388-0209. PMID 25068675.
  11. ^ a b Baskin, Carol C.; Baskin, Jerry M. (2001). Seeds: Ecology, Biogeography, and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination. Elsevier. pp. 259, 275. ISBN 9780120802630.

External links[edit]