Characteristics of Magic Fruit Tree (Synsepalum dulcificum) in the Wild

Synsepalum dulcificum
Magic fruit is a plant known as berries that can turn sour taste into sweetness. The fruit itself has a low sugar content and glycoprotein molecule, with several carbohydrate chains, called miraculin. When the flesh of the fruit is eaten, it binds the molecule to the tongue and creates a sweet and sour taste.

Miraculin binds to proteins and can activate sweet receptors, which results in the perception of sweet taste. The sweetness lasts until the protein is swept away by saliva, about 30 minutes.

The name of the magic fruit is given by Gymnema sylvestre and Thaumatococcus daniellii, which are two other species of plants that are used to make food taste.

The magical fruit tree has been used in West Africa since at least the 18th century, when European explorer, Chevalier des Marchais, explained its use there.

Marchais, who was looking for different fruits in West Africa during a visit in 1725, noticed that the locals picked berries from the bush and ate them.

In the 1980s in the United States, an attempt was made to commercialize the magical fruit because of its ability to cover food that is not sweet to sweet. But that didn’t work out smoothly when the Food and Drug Administration’s body classified magic fruit as a food additive.

In the 1970s, dieters in the United States could buy miraculin. This interest has increased where dieters who generally consume sour and bitter foods, such as lemons, radishes, pickles, hot sauces, and beer, become sweet because they are mixed with miraculin.


Characteristics of the Magic Fruit Leaf

Synsepalum dulcificum Leaf
Source : and Kim Starr

The leaves are 5-10 cm long, 2-4 cm wide, and hairy at the bottom.


Characteristics of the Magic Fruit Flower

Synsepalum dulcificum Flower
Source : Zona

The flowers are white.


Characteristics of the Magic Fruit

Synsepalum dulcificum Fruit
Source : Zona

The fruit is red as long as 2 cm. Each fruit contains one seed.

Magic fruit is on the EU’s new food list and still needs a more in-depth safety assessment before it can be sold as food or food additives.


Characteristics of Magic Fruit Tree

Synsepalum dulcificum Tree
Source :

The tree has a bush shape that grows between 2-5 meters and has thick leaves.

Since 2011, the United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has imposed a ban on the import of live trees or fruit from Taiwan, declaring them miraculous fruit as “illegal unpublished sweeteners”.


Magic fruit trees can be propagated using the seedlings. The seeds need 14-21 days to germinate. If planting it on agricultural land, the recommended planting distance for cultivation is 4 meters per tree. Or you can also use a large pot, but the growth will be a little slower if you use a pot.

Magic fruit trees grow best in soils with a pH of 4.5 to 5.8 and a shady location with high humidity. Although the magical fruit tree is strong and can withstand the drought and also the scorching sun.


In West Africa, where this species of the tree originated, preparations of magical fruit are used to sweeten palm.

Historically, magic fruit has also been used as a sweetener and flavoring ingredient for various drinks and foods, such as bread, corn, beer, cocktails, vinegar, and pickles.


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