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The Barbados Cherry
"The Tropical Acerola"

The Barbados cherry is a bright red fruit that is round in shape and very acid to taste.  When bitten, an orange pulp is revealed surrounding 3 small seeds.

There are numerous names for this cherry, including Acerola and Wild Crapemyrtle. However the true scientific name for this Barbados fruit is Malpighia punicifolia L as it is a member of the Malpighiaceae flowering plant family.

Barbados is not the only place the Acerola cherry is found.   There are a number of other regions where this tasty fruit can be found including many of the other Caribbean islands in the Lesser Antilles, Central America, South America, Southern Florida and Hawaii.

The Barbados cherry is found growing on the slender branches of the bushy, cherry shrub or tree.  Its branches have smooth evegreen leaves that are dark green in color. The Barbados cherry tree can reach as high as 15 feet but is typically 8 to 10 feet tall.   


The Nutritional Value of this Caribbean Cherry

Vacation in Barbados

Barbados CherryBarbados cherries have been found to provide much nutritional value.  The most dominant of these is its high vitamin C or ascorbic acid content, containing up to 4500 mg per 100 g (4.5%) of cherries. 

This has made this cherry one of the richest sources of vitamin C as compared to a peeled orange which only contains 50 mg per 100g (0.05%).  To put these values into better perspective, a glass of raw Barbados cherry juice contains approximately 32 times more vitamin C than a glass of raw orange juice.

This Barbados fruit also contains high levels of vitmin A of about 12,500 IU per 100 g which is almost the same level of vitamin A found in carrots and 8 times more than that found in orange juice.

A third health benefit of the Acerola cherry is its  high content of the antioxidant Trolox. Trolox is an antioxidant derivative of vitamin E.  Its full chemical name is 6-hydroxy-2,-5,7,8-tetramethylchroman-2-carboxylic acid, which is known to reduce peroxynitrite mediated oxidative stress.

For many years the acerola cherry has been heavily used in Brazil and many other South America countries as a natural health drink to cure an array of ailments.  These include dysentery and fever. 

Here are some of the most common health-promoting reasons to eat Barbados cherries:

Cholesterol Reduction Skin maintenance / Astringent Anti-Stress
Anti-Inflammatory Anti-Fungal Iron Absorption
Anti-Aging Common Colds and Flus Cardiotonic Agent


The Growth of the Barbados Cherry Tree

Vacation in Barbados

Acerola cherry trees love lots of sunshine and well draining soil.  It is also a drought resistant shrub.  This makes Barbados a perfect fit for the growth of the cherry tree with our tropical sunshine and limestone base. 

Barbados Cherry TreeThis Barbados plant is commonly proprogated by cuttings due to its ease and effectiveness, however air-layering is sometimes practiced.  Cutting is performed by removing a vegetative part of the fully grown acerola tree and planting it.  This allows the formation of a new identical acerola tree.

The cherry trees are best planted well spaced out, 10 to 15 feet apart, and in rows.  As these cherry plants like warmth and sunshine they should be planted during the spring time after the winter season has past.  As the cuttings grow they will get taller and the shrub will begin to spread out.

It takes almost a year for Barbados cherry trees to start producing the cherry fruit, with optimal bearing at about 3 years or later.  Having been planted in the spring the cherries will ripen and be ready for picking in the winter or spring each year.

The Barbados cherry changes from a yellowish to bright red colour as they become ripe.  The fruit can be picked directly from the tree and be eaten.  It is also possible to pick the cherries when they are yellow and leave them to ripen in a basket or bowl. 

As well as eating the cherries straight from the tree many locals use these cherries to make juice, jam and puree.

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