Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Eugenia uniflora
(Surinam cherry)

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Datasheet

Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 15 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Eugenia uniflora
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Surinam cherry
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • E. uniflora is a South American tree, widely introduced for its valuable fruit and as an ornamental plant, adaptable, fast growing, especially in rich, well-drained soils, forming dense thickets that crowd out...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); habit in Laysan albatross colony. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.
TitleHabit with Laysan albatross chicks
CaptionEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); habit in Laysan albatross colony. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); habit in Laysan albatross colony. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.
Habit with Laysan albatross chicksEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); habit in Laysan albatross colony. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); habit with Laysan albatross chicks. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.
TitleHabit with Laysan albatross chicks
CaptionEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); habit with Laysan albatross chicks. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); habit with Laysan albatross chicks. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.
Habit with Laysan albatross chicksEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); habit with Laysan albatross chicks. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); leaves. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2007.
TitleLeaves
CaptionEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); leaves. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2007.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); leaves. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2007.
LeavesEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); leaves. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii, USA. September, 2007.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); trunk and bark. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll.
June, 2008.
TitleTrunk and bark
CaptionEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); trunk and bark. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); trunk and bark. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll.
June, 2008.
Trunk and bark Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); trunk and bark. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); leaves and flower buds. Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2009.
TitleLeaves and flower buds
CaptionEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); leaves and flower buds. Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); leaves and flower buds. Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2009.
Leaves and flower budsEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); leaves and flower buds. Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); flowers and young red leaves. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.
TitleFlowers and young red leaves
CaptionEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); flowers and young red leaves. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); flowers and young red leaves. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.
Flowers and young red leavesEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); flowers and young red leaves. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); flowers. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll.
June, 2008.
TitleFlowers
CaptionEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); flowers. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); flowers. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll.
June, 2008.
FlowersEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); flowers. Cable Company buildings Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June, 2008.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); fruiting habit. Lanai City, Maui County, Hawai, USA. April, 2007.
TitleFruiting habit
CaptionEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); fruiting habit. Lanai City, Maui County, Hawai, USA. April, 2007.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); fruiting habit. Lanai City, Maui County, Hawai, USA. April, 2007.
Fruiting habitEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); fruiting habit. Lanai City, Maui County, Hawai, USA. April, 2007.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); fruit and foliage. Garden of Eden Keanae, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2011.
TitleFruit and foliage
CaptionEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); fruit and foliage. Garden of Eden Keanae, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2011.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); fruit and foliage. Garden of Eden Keanae, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2011.
Fruit and foliageEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); fruit and foliage. Garden of Eden Keanae, Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2011.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); seedling. John Prince Park Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
TitleSeedling
CaptionEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); seedling. John Prince Park Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); seedling. John Prince Park Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.
SeedlingEugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry, pitanga); seedling. John Prince Park Lake Worth, Florida, USA. September, 2009.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Eugenia uniflora L.

Preferred Common Name

  • Surinam cherry

Other Scientific Names

  • Eugenia brasiliana (L.) Aubl.
  • Eugenia costata Cambess.
  • Eugenia indica Nicheli
  • Eugenia lacustris Barb. Rodr.
  • Eugenia michelii Lam.
  • Eugenia microphylla Barb. Rodr.
  • Eugenia myrtifolia Salisb.
  • Eugenia parkeriana DC.
  • Myrtus brasiliana L.
  • Plinia pendunculata L.f.
  • Plinia rubra L.
  • Stenocalyx affinis O. Berg
  • Stenocalyx brunneus O. Berg
  • Stenocalyx dasyblastus O. Berg
  • Stenocalyx glaber O. Berg
  • Stenocalyx impunctatus O. Berg
  • Stenocalyx lucidus O. Berg
  • Stenocalyx michelii (Lam.) O. Berg
  • Stenocalyx nhampiri Barb. Rodr.
  • Stenocalyx strigosus O. Berg
  • Stenocalyx uniflorus (L.) Kausel

International Common Names

  • English: Barbados cherry; Brazil cherry; cayenne cherry; Florida cherry; French cherry; pitanga; red Brazil cherry
  • Spanish: cerezo de cayena; pitanga
  • French: cerise cotelée; cerise créole; cerise de cayenne; cerisier carré; cerisier de cayenne; roussaille
  • Portuguese: ginja; pitanga do notre

Local Common Names

  • Argentina: nagapiry; nangapiri
  • Brazil: pitanga; pitanga mulata; pitanga roxa; pitanga-da-praia; pitangueira vermelha; vermelha
  • China: hong guo zi
  • Colombia: cereza quadrada
  • Cook Islands: menemene; venevene
  • El Salvador: guinda
  • Germany: Cayennekirsche; Pitanga; Surinam Kirschmyrte; Surinamkirsche
  • Guadeloupe: cerese a cotes; cerese-cotes
  • Indonesia: ceremai belanda; dewandaru
  • Netherlands: kerseboom, Surinaamse
  • Niue: kafika; kafika papalangi; karifa palangi
  • Samoa: vine
  • Suriname: monkie monkie kirsie; Surinaamsche kersh; zoete kers
  • Sweden: korsbarsmyrten
  • Thailand: mayom-farang
  • Tonga: pomikanite
  • Venezuela: pendanga

EPPO code

  • EUEUN (Eugenia uniflora)

Summary of Invasiveness

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E. uniflora is a South American tree, widely introduced for its valuable fruit and as an ornamental plant, adaptable, fast growing, especially in rich, well-drained soils, forming dense thickets that crowd out native regeneration. Seeds in the sweet and attractive fruit are spread by birds and small mammals, and it has become invasive in several areas around the world. It is notably invasive in Florida, Bermuda and the Bahamas where it has formed dense thickets crowding out native species. It is also reported as invasive in Queensland, Australia and many Pacific islands including Hawaii, and also in the Indian Ocean in Mauritius and Reunion.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Myrtales
  •                         Family: Myrtaceae
  •                             Genus: Eugenia
  •                                 Species: Eugenia uniflora

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Eugenia uniflora L. (Myrtaceae) is the most widely known of the many species of Eugenia that have edible fruit. E. uniflora is named Surinam cherry, pitanga, Brazilian cherry and Florida cherry in English. Pitanga, the name given by the Tupi Indians, is used in Brazil. Many synonyms exist for Eugenia uniflora L. in the older literature and include Stenocalyx michelii Berg, Stenocalyx lucidus O. Berg, Eugenia costata Cambess., Myrtus brasiliana L., Eugenia michelii Lam. and Plinia rubra Veil (Duarte and Paull, 2015).

A number of edible small fruits of limited commercial importance occur within the genus Eugenia including Eugenia uvalha Camb. (ubaia), Eugenia aggregata Kiaersk (cherry of the Rio Grande), Eugenia dombeyi Skeels (grumichama) and Eugenia luschnathiana Klotzsch (pitomba) (Martin et al., 1987). All of these related species are native to Brazil and are distributed to some extent throughout tropical America (Janick and Paull, 2008).

Description

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General description

E. uniflora is an evergreen shrub 2-4 m tall or a small, multi-trunked tree to 7 m, occasionally to 10 m depending on site, with spreading, slender, sometimes crooked branches.

Leaves

Young leaves are notably pink to bronze or dark red, turning shiny dark green above, paler below when mature but turning red in cold, dry weather. Leaves are opposite, simple, ovate or narrowly ovate to lanceolate, 2.5-6(-8) cm long and 1.5-3 cm wide, with 7-9 pairs of lateral veins and margins entire or slightly and irregularly wavy. Leaf bases are rounded or slightly cordate, apex obtuse to shortly acuminate, glabrous, glossy, and pellucidly dotted. Petioles are 1-3 mm long.

Flowers

Flowers are creamy white, fragrant, (1-)1.5-3 cm across, solitary or in clusters of 2-3(-4) at leaf axils, with slender peduncles, small bracts, a 4-lobed tubular calyx, 8-ribbed, with lobes 3-4 mm long, petals 4, white, thin, obovate and fugacious, with about 50-60 prominent white stamens with yellow anthers, 0.7-1.1 cm long, with a slightly ridged ovary. ). Flowering occurs on the previous season’s growth or the basal part of the current season’s shoots (Verheij and Coronel, 1992, Janick and Paull, 2008).

Fruit

The fruit is a succulent, pendulous berry, 2-4 cm in diameter, depressed-globose, conspicuously 8-ribbed, commonly containing 1-3 seeds, though it can have a single large seed or up to 7 small seeds. When mature, the fruit turns from green to yellow then orange and finally a dark red to wine-red or dark purplish-maroon when ripe. The peel is very thin and delicate. The pulp, the same colour as the peel, is aromatic, juicy and sweet or sour-sweet, and often has a resinous flavour that is not so appealing. The pulp represents about 60-65% of the total weight. The time from anthesis to ripening is around 40 days and overripe fruit will drop fairly soon after the full-ripe stage (Villachica et al., 1996). Birds and mammals disperse the seeds (Duarte and Paull, 2015).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Tree
Woody

Distribution

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E. uniflora is native to central and eastern areas of South America, specifically to Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil (Minas Gerais, Parana, Rio Grande do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina, Sao Paulo), Bolivia (La Paz, Santa Cruz, Tarija), and Argentina (Catamarca, Chaco, Corrientes, Entre Rios, Formosa, Jujuy, Misiones, Salta, Santa Fe, Tucuman) (USDA-ARS, 2013). In Brazil, it grows wild along stream banks and at forest edges (Lorenzi, 1992). It is also mistakenly considered by some authors (e.g. Morton, 1987; Rifai, 1992) as native to northern South America, Guyana, Surinam and French Guiana and the north-east of Brazil, which has also tended to be repeated by other sources (e.g. Janick and Paull, 2008). The common names also appear to confuse people regarding its native range, as it is known as Surinam cherry, Barbados cherry and even Florida cherry.

It has been widely introduced as a valuable fruit tree throughout the tropical and sub-tropical Americas, and also in many parts of Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Rifai (1992) stated that it was grown all over the tropics and subtropics, though it is rare in South-East Asia (Java, Peninsular Malaysia and the Philippines). It was also reported as introduced to the Mediterranean basin, including southern Europe and northern Africa (Morton, 1987), though records from such countries are very rare. In the USA, it is grown in California, Hawaii and Florida, mainly as a living fence or hedge, or as a garden or backyard plant (Duarte and Paull, 2015)

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

ChinaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
-FujianPresentIntroducedFlora of China, 2013
-Hong KongPresentIntroduced Not invasive Flora of China, 2013
-SichuanPresentIntroducedFlora of China, 2013
-YunnanPresentIntroducedFlora of China, 2013
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
IndiaPresentIntroducedMorton, 1987; GBIF, 2013
IndonesiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-JavaPresentIntroducedRifai, 1992Rare
IsraelPresentIntroduced1922Morton, 1987
JapanPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
MalaysiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIntroducedRifai, 1992Rare
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced<1911Morton, 1987; Rifai, 1992
SingaporePresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedMorton, 1987
TaiwanPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
VietnamPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013

Africa

AngolaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
BurundiPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
GabonPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
GhanaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
GuineaPresentIntroduced1966 Invasive GBIF, 2013
KenyaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
MadagascarPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
MauritiusPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
MayottePresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
MozambiquePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
Sierra LeonePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
South AfricaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
ZambiaThe Plant List, 2010; GBIF, 2013

North America

BermudaPresentIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2003
MexicoPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
USAPresentIntroduced Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedJanick and Paull, 2008
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2013
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013; USDA-NRCS, 2013

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
BahamasPresentIntroduced Invasive Kairo et al., 2003
BarbadosPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
BelizePresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
CubaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
DominicaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
GrenadaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
HondurasPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
MartiniquePresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
MontserratPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
PanamaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2013

South America

ArgentinaPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2013
BoliviaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
BrazilPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2013
-GoiasPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
-ParanaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
-Santa CatarinaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
-Sao PauloPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2013
ChilePresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Easter IslandPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
ColombiaPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
French GuianaPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
GuyanaPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
ParaguayPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
PeruPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
SurinamePresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013
UruguayPresentNative Natural USDA-ARS, 2013
VenezuelaPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2013

Europe

FrancePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
PortugalPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
SpainPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
-Australian Northern TerritoryLocalisedIntroducedCouncil of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2013Melville Island only
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Biosecurity Queensland, 2011
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2013Common in coastal areas, and on Lord Howe Island
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
GuamPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
NiuePresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Biosecurity Queensland, 2011; PIER, 2013
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013
PalauPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Not invasive Biosecurity Queensland, 2011; PIER, 2013
Pitcairn IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
SamoaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
TongaPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2013
US Minor Outlying IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2013
VanuatuPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013

History of Introduction and Spread

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Being seen as a valuable fruit tree, it was introduced from its native range early on in colonial history, and there are several detailed accounts of its introduction and spread that are of interest.

An undated report by the Government of Bermuda (2014) stated that E. uniflora was listed in an 1790 account of the produce grown in Bermuda and therefore it must have been introduced before this date. A mature tree was also listed in an inventory of trees in Orange Valley, Devonshire, Bermuda in 1840. E. uniflora naturalized quickly, spreading slowing from gardens into surrounding forest until 1900 when starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) arrived in Bermuda. The seed in the centre of the fruit is more than 1 cm in diameter which meant that the smaller native birds could not swallow them; however, the larger starling could eat the fruit and spread the seeds. Then, when much of the island’s native cedar forest was denuded following an epidemic of cedar scale in the 1940s, E. uniflora began to dominate large areas of cleared land. Its spread in Bermuda was then further accelerated in 1957 by the introduction of another large bird, the great kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus).

In Florida, USA, E. uniflora was introduced as a fruit tree, an ornamental and a hedge tree before 1931, being widely planted in central and south Florida. It was noted by several authors as escaping cultivation and invading hammocks in these areas 40 years later, as early as 1971 (Langeland and Burks, 1998), becoming a target of eradication by park managers by 1995.

It was first reported to have been introduced to Israel in 1922 (Morton, 1987). It was also reported as introduced elsewhere in the Mediterranean basin including southern Europe and northern Africa (Morton, 1987), though records from such countries are very rare. 

Risk of Introduction

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E. uniflora is valued for its fruit and ornamental value and as such, further intentional introduction is likely. However, the species received a high risk score of 12 in a risk assessment for the Pacific region (PIER, 2013), indicating the dangers posed by further introduction of E. uniflora.

Habitat

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E. uniflora is commonly found along riverbanks, in forests and forest edges and also in coastal scrub (PIER, 2013). The species is highly adaptable, however and can grow in most terrestrial habitats in suitable climates. There are variable reports, however, regarding tolerance to areas liable to flooding, waterlogging, saline soils or persistent salt spray. In Florida and in the Bahamas it is found invading disturbed hammocks and is also considered weedy in cultivated landscapes, natural areas, including national wildlife refuges and rare scrub habitat (Langeland and Burks, 1998). In Queensland, Australia, E. uniflora is becoming a weed of rainforests, open woodlands, forest margins, urban bushland, gardens, roadsides and riparian vegetation (Biosecurity Queensland, 2011). 

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Reproductive Biology

E. uniflora is most commonly propagated by seed, though seed must be sowed immediately as they only remain viable for a few weeks and tend not to germinate if stored for more than a month. Germination generally occurs in 3-4 weeks. Vegetative propagation of selected varieties has also been used successfully with layering or grafting.

Physiology and Phenology

E. uniflora is variously described as a fast growing species (e.g. PIER, 2013) or moderately fast (Langeland and Burks, 1998), but is also reported to grow slowly in early establishment (Rifai, 1992). Flowering and fruiting may start from when plants are as young as two years old under the most favourable circumstances, but usually starts when the shrubs or small trees are 5-6 years old, or up to 10 years old in unfavourable sites (Morton, 1987). Flowering occurs on the growth from the previous season or on the basal part of shoots of the current season. The fruit then develops and ripens very quickly, which can occur in as little as three weeks after anthesis.

The duration of flowering and fruiting is dependent upon local climate, varying from almost continuous, to several extended periods in a year, or a single period of up to two months (Rifai, 1992). In Florida, USA, E. uniflora flowers and fruits mostly in spring (March to May), and depending on site there may be a second crop in the autumn (Langeland and Burks, 1998). In Israel, it also produces fruit in May, a period when few other tree species are producing fruit, though yields tend to be low (Morton, 1987). Yields per tree tend to be relatively low in any case as compared to other fruit trees, in the range of 2.5 to 3.6 kg per plant (Morton, 1987; Janick and Paull, 2008).

Associations

Almost a century ago in Bermuda, E. uniflora trees were being cut down by landowners because it was being observed that their presence encouraged the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata), which was an agricultural pest on the island at that time (Britton, 1918, in Langeland and Burks, 1998). The tree is also known as a general host for the Mediterranean fruit fly in Florida (Langeland and Burks, 1998).

Stricker and Stiling (2012) used invasive E. uniflora to test the enemy release hypothesis in Florida, USA, i.e. that plant populations are regulated by coevolved enemies in their native range but are relieved of this pressure where their enemies have not been co-introduced. Insecticide was used to exclude species of insect herbivores from invasive E. uniflora and two native co-occurring species of Eugenia in the field for two years. Herbivore damage, plant growth, survival, and population growth rates for the three species were assessed. The results however contradicted the enemy release hypothesis as E. uniflora sustained more herbivore damage than the native species which had reduced survival, plant height and population growth. In addition, most damage to E. uniflora was due to the weevil Myllocerus undatus recently introduced from Sri Lanka. M. undatus was observed to attack E. uniflora foliage significantly more than the leaves of the native species. This interaction is particularly interesting because M. undatus and E. uniflora share no co-evolutionary history, having arisen on two separate continents and come into contact on a third Stricker and Stiling (2012).

Environmental Requirements

It is a tropical and sub-tropical species preferring moister climates. However, reports of more exacting environmental requirements are quite variable from author to author. Rifai (1992) report that E. uniflora thrives in full sun and requires only moderate rainfall, withstanding long dry seasons. However, PIER (2013) stated that it tends to grow better in rich, moist but well-drained soils, and partial shade. In Florida, USA, Langeland and Burks (1998) described E. uniflora as adaptable to all soil conditions not subject to flooding and with some salt tolerance, and Rifai (1992) reported that it grows in almost any type of soil and withstands temporary waterlogging, but that it is intolerant of salt.

In its native range in South America, it inhabits areas of warm temperate climates with both wet and dry summers as well as areas with no dry season, with average annual rainfall in the range of 500-2000 mm, and average temperatures of 20-35ºC in the southern hemisphere summer in January, and 10-30ºC in July. It has proved to be more tolerant where introduced, and Rifai (1992) reported that E. uniflora is rather cold-tolerant and will stand several degrees of frost unharmed, whereas Langeland and Burks (1998) stated that E. uniflora freezes at about -1°C in Florida.

It is mostly a lowland species, commonly found from sea level up to 250 m attitude. It is also found up to 750 m in Hawaii (PIER, 2013), up to 1000 m in the Philippines, rarely up to 1500 m (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2013), and even to 1800 m in Guatemala (Rifai, 1992). 

 

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Tolerated < 860mm precipitation annually
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -1
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 20 35
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 10 30

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration05number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall5002000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • saline
  • shallow
  • sodic

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Myllocerus undatus Predator Whole plant The Plant List, 2010

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In Florida, USA, E. uniflora foliage is attacked by the weevil Myllocerus undatus that was reported by Stricker and Stiling (2012) to have been introduced from Sri Lanka only a few years previously. This paper also discusses the interesting observation that M. undatus and E. uniflora share no co-evolutionary history, having arisen on two separate continents and come into contact on a third (Stricker and Stiling, 2012).

A number of pests and diseases have been reported as affecting E. uniflora, including leaf-spot, thread blight, anthracnose, twig dieback and root rot. The fruit are also attractive to fruit flies, scale insects and caterpillars (Rifai, 1992).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Most local distribution of E. uniflora is by birds spreading the seeds after eating the sweet, bright-coloured and attractive fruits. Plants are visited daily by birds during the fruiting season, and the fruits are probably also eaten by small mammals (Langeland and Burks, 1998).

Long distance movement of E. uniflora is through the intentional introduction of trees, for its fruit and for its use as an ornamental species. It has also been identified as a potential seed contaminant (USDA-ARS, 2013).

Pathway Causes

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Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
True seeds (inc. grain)

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Negative
Human health Positive

Economic Impact

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In the early 1990s, the Florida Nurserymen and Growers Association (FNGA) and the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC) asked nurseries to stop the production of 45 potentially invasive plant species that were relatively insignificant in the ornamental horticulture market (Wirth et al., 2004). E. uniflora was not included as it was one of 14 additional species designated as invasive by the FLEPPC, but which the nurseries wanted to continue production of for their high economic value as they are highly ornamental and very widely used in landscaping. A survey indicated that incomes to nurseries of these 14 species across Florida were estimated at US$45 million in 2001, with $34 million from in-state sales and $11 million from sales to out-of-state markets (Wirth et al., 2004). These sales were estimated to translate into combined economic output impacts of $59 million and employment impacts of 800 jobs for Florida's economy. However, it was argued that these estimated impacts should not be seen as equal to the expected loss if these species were phased out, because if one species is not available consumers are likely to buy another species (Wirth et al., 2004).

Despite this intervention, by the late 1990s E. uniflora was still commonly used in gardens in Florida, particularly as a tree or shrub for hedging (Langeland and Burks, 1998).

As a fruit tree, E. uniflora is either planted at spacings of 3-4 m, or in rows 5 m apart and 1-2 m between plants within the row (Rifai, 1992). Plants are most productive if left unpruned for a number of years, and fruiting is promoted by application of fertilizers and fruit development responds positively to irrigation (Rifai, 1992).

Environmental Impact

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E. uniflora forms dense thickets that displace native plants and prevents their regeneration, replacing native species, reducing the amount of light that reaches the forest floor, and changing the micro-environment of invaded habitats (Biosecurity Queensland, 2011; PIER, 2013).

Stricker and Stiling (2013) found that the emergence, survival and growth of E. uniflora seedlings in Florida, USA, was higher than that of two native Eugenia species, supporting predictions that invasive E. uniflora may possess a competitive advantage. Their study also suggested that measurements of such traits may be useful in determining the likelihood of invasion by newly introduced woody plant species (Stricker and Stiling, 2013).

Social Impact

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When bruised, crushed or cut, the leaves and branches have a spicy resinous fragrance, which can cause respiratory discomfort in susceptible individuals.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Increases vulnerability to invasions
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Interaction with other invasive species
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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E. uniflora is mainly grown for its edible fruit which is consumed fresh or conserved as jam, a relish or by pickling in vinegar. Fruit flesh contains 0.8-1% protein, 0.4-0.8% fat, 8-12% carbohydrates, 0.3-0.6% fibre, and 0.3-0.5% ash. The vitamin C content is 20-30 mg/100 g and the energy value is 190 kJ/100 g (Rifai, 1992). Fruit juice is 85-90% water but due to the sugar content it can be fermented into a wine, which can then also be processed into vinegar. Furthermore, in Brazil, the fermented juice is also sometimes distilled to produce an alcoholic spirit (Rifai, 1992). The uses, economic and nutritional value and health benefits of E. uniflora fruit, postharvest physiology and handling practices, quality control and processing are described in detail by Vizzotto et al. (2011).

Plant parts also have a number of other more minor uses. The bark contains 20-28% tannin and can be processed and used to treat leather.

A strong-smelling essential oil is obtained from crushing and distilling the foliage, containing citronellal, geranyl acetate, geraniol, cineole, terpinene, sesquiterpenes and polyterpenes. This has antihypertensive antidiabetic, antitumor, analgesic and insect repellent properties (Rifai, 1992). It has shown antiviral and antifungal activity against microorganisms such as Trichomonas gallinae, Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania amazonensis.

Plant extracts also show significant anti-inflammatory properties, and are used extensively as a folk remedy in South America against stomach diseases. Various uses in traditional medicine have been reported (Rifai, 1992). A leaf infusion is used in Brazil and Surinam as a stomachic, febrifuge and astringent, in Java the fruits are used to reduce blood pressure. Seeds are extremely resinous and toxic and can be used as a poison.

The characteristic 8-lobed ‘mini-pumpkin’-like and bright-coloured fruit add to making E. uniflora a popular ornamental in suitable climates. It is also commonly used as a hedge, because plants become densely branched when regularly trimmed. It is also planted as a boundary tree, barrier or support (Rifai, 1992).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Amenity
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Landscape improvement

General

  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Fruits

Materials

  • Alcohol
  • Bark products
  • Essential oils
  • Tanstuffs

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • garden plant

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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In Florida, E. uniflora can appear similar to native Eugenia species. However, it can usually be differentiated by the distinct odour given off by E. uniflora leaves when crushed in the hand (Langeland et al., 2011).

Prevention and Control

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Physical/Mechnical Control

Physical methods are most commonly used, with seedlings and young trees being pulled out (Langeland et al., 2011) or dug out manually. Trees will coppice if just cut, so roots must be removed ot stumps treated with herbicides or burnt out.

Chemical Control

Basal bark treatments using triclopyr have proved effective on small plants with diameters up to 12 mm (Langeland et al., 2011). Triclopyr has also been used as a cut stump treatment (Langeland et al., 2011; PIER, 2013). Glyphosate and triclopyr are also reported effective as foliar sprays (NewsMail, 2015).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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For the commercial production of fruit and for other potential uses especially where introduced, the agronomic and economic aspects need further investigation.

References

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Aguayo J, Adams GC, Halkett F, Catal M, Husson C, Nagy ZÂ, Hansen EM, Marçais B, Frey P, 2013. Strong genetic differentiation between North American and European populations of Phytophthora alni subsp. uniformis. Phytopathology, 103(2):190-199. http://apsjournals.apsnet.org/loi/phyto

Bezerra, J. E. F., Lederman, I. E., Silva Júnior, J. F. da, Alves, M. A., 2004. Performance of Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora L.) under irrigation in the Moxotó Valley, Pernambuco State, Brazil., Revista Brasileira de Fruticultura, 26(1):177-179

Biosecurity Queensland, 2011. Brazilian cherry, Eugenia uniflora. Environmental Weeds of Australia Fact Sheet. Queensland, Australia: The University of Queensland.

Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2013. Australia's virtual herbarium. Australia: Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria. http://avh.ala.org.au

Ctenas, M. L. de B., Ctenas, A. C., Quast, D., 2000. Frutas das Terras Brasileiras

Duarte, O., Paull, R., 2015. Exotic fruits and nuts of the New World., Exotic fruits and nuts of the New World:ix + 332 pp. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20153017861

Flora of China, 2013. Flora of China. http://www.efloras.org/

GBIF, 2013. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). http://data.gbif.org/species/

Government of Bermuda, 2014. Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uniflora). Flatts, Bermuda: Government of Bermuda, Ministry of Environment and Planning. http://bermudaconservation.squarespace.com/surinam-cherry/

Janick J, Paull RE, 2008. Eugenia uniflora. In: The Encyclopedia of Fruits and Nuts. Wallingford, UK: CABI, 534-536 pp.

Janick, J., Paull, R. E., 2008. The encyclopedia of fruit & nuts., The encyclopedia of fruit & nuts:xviii + 954 pp.

Kairo M, Ali B, Cheesman O, Haysom K, Murphy S, 2003. Invasive species threats in the Caribbean region. Report to the Nature Conservancy. Curepe, Trinidad and Tobago: CAB International, 132 pp. http://www.issg.org/database/species/reference_files/Kairo%20et%20al,%202003.pdf

Langeland KA, Burks CK, 1998. Identification and Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas. Gainesville, USA: University of Florida, 104-105 pp.

Langeland KA, Ferrell JA, Sellers B, MacDonald GE, Stocker RK, 2011. Integrated management of nonnative plants in natural areas of Florida. IFAS Extension note SP242. Florida, USA: University of Florida, 27 pp.

Langeland, K. A., Burks, C. K., 1998. Identification and biology of non-native plants in Florida's natural areas., Identification and biology of non-native plants in Florida's natural areas:165 pp.

Lorenzi, H., 1992. Árvores Brasileiras

Lorenzi, H., Bacher, L., Lacerda, M., Sartori, S., 2006. Frutas Brasileiras e Exóticas Cultivadas

Martin, F. W., Campbell, C. W., Ruberté, R. M., 1987. Perennial edible fruits of the tropics: an inventory., Agriculture Handbook, USDA:247pp.

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2013. VAScular Tropicos database. Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://mobot.mobot.org/W3T/Search/vast.html

Morton, J. F., 1987. Fruits of warm climates., Fruits of warm climates:517 pp.

NewsMail, 2015. Garden plant has gone wild. Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia: NewsMail. http://www.news-mail.com.au/news/garden-plant-has-gone-wild/2781461

PIER, 2013. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

Rifai MA, 1992. Eugenia uniflora L. In: Plant Resources of South-East Asia. 2: Edible fruits and nuts, 2 [ed. by Coronel, R. E. \Verheij, E. W. M.]. Bogor, Indonesia: Prosea Foundation, 165-166 pp.

Singhal VK, Gill BS, Bir SS, 1984. Cytology of cultivated woody species (Polypetalae). Proceedings of the Indian Science Congress Association, 71:143-144.

Stricker KB, Stiling P, 2012. Herbivory by an introduced Asian weevil negatively affects population growth of an invasive Brazilian shrub in Florida. Ecology, 93(8):1902-1911. http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/11-1328.1

Stricker KB, Stiling P, 2013. Seedlings of the introduced invasive shrub Eugenia uniflora (Myrtaceae) outperform those of its native and introduced non-invasive congeners in Florida. Biological Invasions, 15(9):1973-1987. http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10530-013-0425-z

The Plant List, 2010. The Plant List Version 1. UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Gardens. http://www.theplantlist.org/

USDA-ARS, 2013. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2013. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/

Verheij, E. W. M., Coronel, R. E., 1992. Edible Fruits and Nuts, Plant Resources of South East Asia No.2:165-167

Villachica, H., Carvalho, J. E. U., Muller, C. H., Diaz, S. C., Almanza, M., 1996. Pitanga, In: Frutales y Hortalizas Promisorios de la Amazonía:227-232

Vizzotto M, Cabral L, Lopes AS, 2011. Pitanga (Eugenia uniflora L.). In: Postharvest biology and technology of tropical and subtropical fruits. Volume 4: mangosteen to white sapote [ed. by Yahia, E. M.]. Cambridge, UK: Woodhead Publishing Ltd, 272-286.

Wirth FF, Davis KJ, Wilson SB, 2004. Florida nursery sales and economic impacts of 14 potentially invasive landscape plant species. Journal of Environmental Horticulture, 22(1):12-16.

Contributors

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28/01/14 Original text by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France 

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