Barbados Cherry

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Barbados cherry Malpighia punicifolia, is the most important member of a group of small fruiting trees and shrubs of which most are native to tropical and subtropical America. It is also known as acerola, and as the W. Indian/Puerto Rican/native/garden cherry. It is much cultivated in the W. Indies, where the fruit is eaten fresh or made into pies and preserves; and has been introduced to other areas with suitable climates, such as Brazil and Hawaii.

The fruit is bright red and the size of a cherry (up to 3 cm/1" in diameter). The shallow furrows running down the outside betray the position of the three stones which are to be found inside. The flesh is juicy and subacid, more like a raspberry than a cherry in flavour. When cooked it tastes like a tart apple. It is remarkably rich in vitamin C, outdoing even rose hips in this respect and having a twentyfold advantage over oranges, weight for weight.