Gardening: The fruit of our labors

EILEEN WARD
Submitted
Jaboticaba

Submitted Jaboticaba

The surinam cherry, Brazilian cherry, or cayenne cherry (eugenia uniflora) is a plant in the family Myrtaceae, native to tropical America. Known as Pitanga throughout Brazil or -angapirí in surrounding countries, it is a large shrub or small tree with a conical form, growing slowly to 8 meters in height. The leaves are glossy green, up to 4 cm long, and new leaves are copper-colored. Fragrant white flowers mature into reddish fruits up to 2 cm in diameter. The taste ranges from sweet to sour, depending on the cultivar and level of ripeness (the darker red to black range is quite sweet, while the green to orange range is strikingly tart). Submitted

The surinam cherry, Brazilian cherry, or cayenne cherry (eugenia uniflora) is a plant in the family Myrtaceae, native to tropical America. Known as Pitanga throughout Brazil or -angapirí in surrounding countries, it is a large shrub or small tree with a conical form, growing slowly to 8 meters in height. The leaves are glossy green, up to 4 cm long, and new leaves are copper-colored. Fragrant white flowers mature into reddish fruits up to 2 cm in diameter. The taste ranges from sweet to sour, depending on the cultivar and level of ripeness (the darker red to black range is quite sweet, while the green to orange range is strikingly tart). Submitted

So many fruit trees are flowering and setting fruit right now. Citrus, mango, avacado, pineapple, and many more. Two of my favorites are the jaboticaba and surinam cherry.

The surinam cherry has a good tolerance to frequent shearing and was an old standard for landscape hedges until it fell out of favor in the ‘90s. From Brazil, our temperatures rarely fall too low for tolerance making it a hardy choice also. Unfortunately, eugenia uniflora has been documented as invading natural areas of South Florida. This plant easily propagates from seed and birds are noted as daily visitors when fruiting and then depositing the seeds in our natural areas. I say unfortunately because I have always enjoyed stopping at a Surinam Cherry for a handful of cherries when the fruit was deep red and fully ripe as it is in the picture. Because of its invasive nature this is a plant which will slowly disappear from our landscapes so enjoy a cherry while you can.

The jaboticaba is a small tree or large shrub depending on how you prune it. The bark is attractive like the guava and so is a nice addition to a landscape. This another plant with origins in Brazil where the fruit is sold commercially. The fruit is grape like, dark purple and three-fourths to one-and-a-half inches. The interesting thing about jaboticaba is that the fruit grows directly out of the trunk and main branches. This is another delight to eat fresh off the tree if you know the location of one. Squeeze the delicious, white fruit from the skin into your mouth and enjoy. Eating these reminds me of eating concord grapes from the vine as a child in Connecticut.

At certain times of the year you can live off the land here in South Florida. In fact, when I come home for lunch and am not especially hungry, my husband knows I’ve been grazing on plants in the yards. Enjoy!

Eileen Ward and her husband Peter have owned and operated Greensward of Marco, Inc., a lawn maintenance and landscaping company since 1981. Watch Eileen’s gardening videos on MarcoIsland-TV.com.

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