Barbados cherry is a fruiting shrub native to Central and South America. This species thrives in hot, dry climates.
The Hawaii Sugar Planters Association imported Barbados cherry in 1946 as a commercial crop, mainly for ascorbic acid production. The success was short-lived, as cheaper ways to extract Vitamin C for preservatives were discovered. Today, it is primarily grown by home gardeners.
When eaten, the fruit is a jolt of Vitamin C. The taste is described as more ‘cherry-like’ than surinam cherry. Others compare the flavor to a partially ripe nectarine. The fruit is perfect for juices, jellies, preserves, desserts, wines, purees, and toppings.
Peter Vellos Valcarcel, owner of Lost Monarch Gardens, a Native & Edible Landscaping & Reforestation company says, ‘They are delicious and don’t mind the dry weather.’ He uses them as an understory tree in his agroforestry designs – Giant Ohia in the overstory, Ulu, bananas, Barbados cherry in the lower level, with Pigeon pea, Cassava, kabocha squash, and turmeric in the bottom layer. Barbados cherry thrives in the lower levels of a food forest.
Because it thrives in the hot sun, Barbados cherry is a perfect container plant for the lanai. One caveat, be careful where it’s planted. Falling fruit can be messy, attracting fruit flies and other pests.
Prune the tree to your desired shape. The stout trunk and spreading branches are perfect for practicing bonsai.
Reproduction is mostly by airlayer. Seeds are not often viable.
- Container plant
- Privacy / screening
- No dangers
High Risk Traits:
- Naturalized in Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico
- Thrives in tropical climates
- Fallen fruit can create a mess
- Irritating hairs on leaves and petioles
- Tolerates many soil conditions (and potentially able to exploit many different habitat types)
- Reaches maturity in two years
- Seeds dispersed by birds
Low Risk Traits:
- Despite ability to spread, no negative impacts have been documented
- Edible fruit
- Landscaping and ornamental value
- Requires specialized pollinators
- Seed set typically low