Malpighia emarginata

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Malpighia emarginata DC.

alt=Description of Malpighia glabra blossom and fruit.jpg picture.
Order Malpighiales
Family Malpighiaceae
Genus Malpighia

2n = 40

Origin : Mesoamerica, northeastern South America

wild and cultivated

English acerola
French acérola

Uses summary
  • edible fruit
  • planted in hedges


  • 2 to 5 m high shrub, very branched and bushy, spreading or hanging branches becoming spiniform
  • opposite simple and whole leaves, with a 2 to 4 mm long petiole; elliptical limb, oblong or obovate-oblong, 2 to 7 cm long and 1 to 3 cm wide, obtuse at the acute apex or obtuse at the base, the young leaves are covered with fine hairs and rapidly become glabrous, adult leaves are dark green, shiny with prominent ribs on top, and lighter green below
  • inflorescences in corymbs or in axillary or terminal umbels, pauciflora (1 to 6), briefly pedonculate or sessile
  • hermaphrodite flowers with 6 to 15 mm long pedicels, glandular calyx with 5 persistent 2.5 to 3 mm sepals, 4 pink or slightly purplish petals, suborbicular or broadly elliptical with arrow-shaped base, the fifth petal in fan-shaped with a cuneiform base, 10 fertile stamens
  • fruit: very slightly ribbed, ovoid or subglobose drupe, 1 to 2 cm in diameter, red or vermilion, shiny, smooth; 3 nested nuclei, flattened on their common sides with 2 longitudinal ridges and furrowed transversely on the dorsal face in a soft, juicy pulp.

Requirements : Not very demanding for the soil, but gives better results in slightly clayey but well drained soils. An annual rainfall of 1700 to 2000 mm seems to be optimal.

Propagation : By seeds (seedling emergence takes 30 to 40 days) or by leaf-cuttings of terminal twigs. The cuttings should be 20 to 30 cm long and need between up to six months to a year before planting. The latter method of multiplication allows you to choose the plant individual which gives the most abundant fructifications, select large sized fruits and select them for a better flavor.

Cultivation : Planting needs spacings of 4.50 to 5 m in all directions or, better, in hedges at 2.50 m on a single line and 4.75 to 5 m between the rows.

Production : Plants grown from seeds start yielding roughly after two years, those from cuttings about six months earlier. They then give about 4 to 6 kg of fruit per plant. Production increases rapidly after three years and is maintained for about fifteen years. A five-year-old tree, grown in good conditions, can yield 20 to 30 and even 50 kg for good selections per year during the various annual harvests. Fruits should be picked every two to three days during harvest periods (early fall and fruit fragility). (Fouqué)

Popular names

English acerola, West Indian cherry, Barbados cherry ; Barbados cherry, garden cherry, sloe berry (Ant), West-Indian cherry (Fouqué)
French cerisier carré, cerisier des Antilles, moureiller des jardins, acerolier / cerise carrée, cerise des Antilles, acérola ; acérolier, cerisier des Antilles, loureiller des jardins, loureiller lisse (Fouqué)
Guyanese Creole cerise [siriz], cerise de Cayenne [siriz-Kayenn], cerise la côte [siriz-lakot] (Pharma. Guyane)
German Westindische Kirsche, Barbados-Kirsche
Dutch geribde kers
Spanish acerola (Porto Rico), semeruco (Venezuela) ; cereza de Barbados ; acerola (PR), cereza de Barbados (Esp, AmL), cereza colorada (PR), cerezo (AmL), cemeruco (Vén), grosello (Pan), nanche (Mex), palo de piedra (Nic), semeruco (Vén), uste (Mex) (Fouqué)
Portuguese acerola, gingeira da Jamaica, cereja do Pará, cereja das Antilhas
Thaï choeri (Bangkok) (PROSEA)
Vietnamese so'ri (PROSEA)


Malpighia emarginata DC. (1824)

synonyms :

  • Malpighia glabra hort., pro parte, non L. (1753)
  • Malpighia punicifolia auct., non L. (1762)



Origin : Probably West Indies and northwestern South America in Panama.


"La pulpe, d'agréable saveur aigrelette, est consommée crue, sous forme de confitures, gelées, etc. Très périssable, le fruit doit être utilisé aussitôt après la récolte. C'est le fruit le plus riche en vitamine C. Il contient entre 1000 et 3000 mg d'acide ascorbique pour 100 g de pulpe. Cette teneur en vitamine C diminue avec l'avancement de la maturation." The pulp, with a pleasant sour taste, is eaten raw, in the form of jams, jellies, etc. Highly perishable, the fruit should be used immediately after harvest. It is the richest fruit in vitamin C. It contains between 1000 and 3000 mg of ascorbic acid per 100 g of pulp. This vitamin C content decreases with advancing maturation.

(Fouqué, 1972).

In the tropics and subtropics cultivated (e.g. Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, Venezuela, Surinam, French Guiana, Brazil, Peru, Canary Isl., Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Zanzibar, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Java, Hawaii, Australia). The fruits are characterized by an unusual high vitamin C content (1-4 g per 100 g juice). They are eaten raw, stewed or candied and are used for making juice, preserves, jam, syrup, jelly, ice-cream, sauces, sherbets and for the extraction of vitamin C. The juice is utilized among others for the improvement of beverages being low on vitamins. Beside this the species is grown as hedge plant.



  • Chauvet, Michel, 2018. Encyclopédie des plantes alimentaires. Paris, Belin. 880 p. (p. 430)
  • Fouqué, A., 1972. Espèces fruitières d'Amérique tropicale. Paris, Institut français de recherches fruitières outre-mer (IFAC). See on Pl@ntUse.
  • Grenand, Pierre ; Moretti, Christian ; Jacquemin, Henri & Prévost, Marie-Françoise, 2004. Pharmacopées traditionnelles en Guyane. Créoles, Wayãpi, Palikur. 2e édition revue et complétée. Paris, IRD. 816 p. (1ère éd.: 1987). See on Pl@ntUse.