The Barbados cherry tree, commonly known as acerola, is a small bushy tree or shrub that produces glossy green leaves. The tree produces a small cherry tree of bright purple color. Malpighia cherry trees are quite rare outside warm climates, but are worth growing for their unusual fruits.
The fruit of acerola is sweet, juicy and juicy with a sharp cherry flavor. Extremely rich in vitamin C, this fruit can easily meet your daily needs.
Often grown to produce acerola juice or jam, these delicate fruits bruise easily. It is for this reason that it is unlikely to find it in your local supermarket. But by growing it at home, you can make sure that you have at least one source of this unique and unusual fruit for your pleasure.
Quick Maintenance Guide
All About Barbados Cherry
Acerola cherries, also known as Barbados cherries, are a bit confusing to look for at first. There are three different botanical names associated with them.
The main fruiting species is Malpighia emarginata, which produces productive harvests of sweet acerola. Once it was classified under the botanical name Malpighia punicifolia, but since then it has been reclassified.
A secondary species, Malpighia glabra, is also called Barbados cherry. This species is especially graceful, as it blooms profusely but produces very few fruits. The taste of the fruit is identical to that of the fruit-forming Malpighia.
Other common names for this species are the nasturtium or the wild crepe myrtle.
The West Indian cherry tree is native to the West Indies, the tropical lowlands from Mexico to South Texas, and other neighboring regions of South and Central America. It requires warm tropical conditions to bloom and to keep it in good shape as an evergreen.
Although it can reach a height of up to 6 meters, it is often grown as a much shorter tree or shrub. The sour fruits are extremely rich in vitamin C and are sometimes used in the commercial production of vitamins and for juices or preserves.
The Barbados cherry is an evergreen beauty that blooms throughout the summer months. Each flower is pink and about 3/4 inch in diameter. The flowers develop in clusters of three to six flowers. If the flowers fade, the pollinated flowers ripen to tasty cherries in less than 25 days.
Unlike many other cherry varieties, Malpighia varieties can bloom and develop fruits from after spring to autumn. The fruits are bright red or dark crimson in color. They are juicy and have a delicate apple flavor with a slight sourness.
Generally, Barbados cherry trees are bushy, tall, and have spreading branches that grow from a short trunk. The leaves of cherry trees are shiny, green and thick. They have a narrow oval shape that gracefully narrows.
When To Plant
Although the seeds are unreliable at best, planting them in a warm seedling tray in the fall allows you to transplant a very young tree in the spring. It is best to wait until they are older to plant your grafts, as they will have more time to settle down before being subjected to the weather. One-year-old seedlings are ideal for this purpose.
Make sure the soil is warm before planting and that your area does not freeze. If this is the matter, don’t forget to keep your Malpighia as a shrub in a container and bring it in during cold snaps.
Where To Plant
Acerola cherry trees can grow successfully in containers that are at least 20 inches in diameter and height. This is the best method for those who are not in a warm and frost-free place.
Make sure that the place where you plant your tree is sheltered from the wind, but that it is in full sun. If you have plants in the ground, space them at least 10 to 12 feet apart and at a similar distance from underground pipes or buildings. This ensures that they have a lot of Root distribution area.
How To Plant
Most saplings are shipped in pots. To plant these Acerolas in pots, dig a hole at least 3 to 4 feet in diameter and a similar depth to loosen the soil. Add plenty of rich compost to deliver nutrients to the soil, as well as a good dose of agricultural lime, and work it into the soil.
Make a mound in the center of your hole formed from your modified soil that will keep the tree at the same depth as it is currently being planted. Do not Plant it deeper, as this can damage the tree trunk or graft joint (if any). Fill it with your prepared soil, then apply 3 ” -4 ” mulch around the base of the tree. Leave a hole between the mulch and the trunk.
Sun and temperature
Direct sunlight is best for these trees. They need warmth and moisture to stay healthy and grow flowers and fruits. 8 to 12 hours of direct sunlight is fine, but aim for the bare minimum of 6 to 8 hours.
The Barbados cherry is native to tropical or subtropical areas and is very sensitive to Frost. Mature trees can withstand short and short exposure to temperatures between 28 and 30 degrees. Seedlings can easily pass away at these temperatures, so keep them warm.
Loamy soils are best for your tree. However, it will tolerate a clay-loam mixture provided that it drains well. Even hard clay that drains excess water is acceptable if you plan to change it.
The pH of the soil should be between 6.5 and 8. When in doubt, work a little agricultural lime into your soil, as it tolerates alkaline conditions better than acidic ones. Alkaline conditions also improve the yield of the tree.
Add compost or manure to provide plenty of good organic matter to your soil. It can also help improve your soil’s moisture-retaining abilities, so limit what you work into the planting hole to just enough to satisfy your sapling immediately. You may want to dress up with extra compost after.
Fertilize your tree once just before it comes out of hibernation, then twice in summer and once in mid-fall. This provides it with many nutrients to draw on for the production of cherries or new foliage.
In the southern United States, the typical ratio for producers of these trees is 10-10-10 fertilizers at the beginning of spring. Use a 5-5-5 dose or a more specialized fertilizer dose for both summer and fall feeding.
Ripe fruits last only a few days. Expect a storage time of no more than 3 days between harvest and consumption. Be very careful when handling them, even to wash them. They bruise incredibly easily, and a bruised Cherry won’t last as long as an intact one.
For longer-term storage, they can be squeezed, and the juice can be frozen. They are also an excellent jam for canning. Some experiments on dehydration worked, but not reliably.
Trees are quite sensitive to low temperatures. A young plant can easily pass away at temperatures below 30 degrees F. If you have cold winters, grow your tree in a pot.
Although underwater is not a problem, overwatering trees can lead to root rot. Ensure good drainage wherever your tree is located and check the soil for moisture before watering.
Two forms of leaf spot, caused by fungi anthracnose and cercospora, are found on malpighia trees. Both can be treated with an organic copper fungicide.
Ripe but not harvested fruits will quickly develop brown rot. Remove the Rotten cherries and discard.