Characteristics of Acerola Tree (Malpighia glabra) in the Wild

Malpighia glabra
Acerola (Malpighia glabra) is a species of the Malpighiaceae family, native to South and Central America. Other common names are Acerola Cherry, Azerola, Antilles Cherry, Puerto Rico Cherry, West India Cherry, Jamaican Cherry, and Barbados Cherry.

This tree is often confused with Malpighia emarginata.

Acerola is common in areas that include Texas, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, and Guatemala, including Jamaica and Hawaii. Within the distribution area, there are strong differences in growth form, for example, tendril-like shrubs can be found in northern Mexico and Texas, and small shrubs throughout Mexico, Texas, and Jamaica, while large shrubs and small trees predominate throughout the distribution area.

This species grows in a variety of locations, from wet gorges and riverbanks to roadside and wet lowland forests to locations on dry limestone rocks and rocky mountain slopes.

 

Characteristics of Acerola Leaf

Malpighia glabra Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/abrahanalvarado

The leaves are opposite, ovate to lanceolate, petiole, 1.5-3 mm long, 3-8 cm long, and 1.5-4 cm wide. At the tip, the leaves are tapered, the base is rounded to wedge-shaped or rarely blunt.

 

Characteristics of Acerola Flower

Malpighia glabra Flower
Source: inaturalist.org/alejandrozab

The flowers are tufted, zymous and axillary, and consist of 4-6 flowers. The flower diameter is 13-18 mm, the largest hind petal is 6-9 mm long, and the spreading petals are pink to reddish or white. The flower stalks are green, hairless, hairy 7-11 mm long.

 

Characteristics of Acerola Fruit

Malpighia glabra Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/sebastianberrio

Acerola fruit is berry-shaped, almost round, red, thin-skinned, smooth, and 10-25 mm in diameter. The seeds are egg-shaped, brownish, and not too hard.

Acerola fruit has the highest vitamin C content, 100g of fresh juice contains about 1000-1500 mg of the vitamin. Therefore acerola is used as a dietary supplement.

Acerola fruit can also be consumed raw. The juice is mixed with other sweeter fruit juices.

Acerola fruit is used to make pasteurized or frozen juice in the market. Acerola powder is also offered, which is obtained using a spray drying process. The use of juice, pulp, concentrate, and powder from acerola fruit is very popular.

Unfortunately, acerola fruit cannot be exported because it is so soft and juicy that it must be processed immediately after harvest.

Benefits of Acerola Fruit:

  • As a vitamin enrichment for fruit juices.
  • As an acid additive to enhance the taste of ice cream, jam, and jelly.
  • Cosmetics production materials.
  • Packaged food production materials.
  • Materials for the production of modern medicines.
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    Characteristics of Acerola Tree

    Malpighia glabra Tree
    Source: inaturalist.org/sultana

    Acerola is an evergreen, shrub, or small tree with a height of 1-3 meters (rarely up to 5 meters). The bark of young branches is green and rarely covered with trichome hairs. The bark is grayish to brownish, relatively smooth, and has prominent cork pores when young. In old age, the bark becomes thick and cracks.

    Acerola is currently widely cultivated as a yard ornamental tree and bonsai in various tropical countries.

     

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