From the Sub-Tropical Fruit Club of Qld Inc.
by Jenny Awbery
Sourced from: STFC N/L Feb Mar 2003
Many of you would have an Acerola Cherry tree (Malpighia glabra)
in your garden, and perhaps you know that the fruit contains a lot of
Vitamin C, which some people are keen to ensure is included in their
diet. In addition to very high levels of Vitamin C, the fruit contains
other vitamins and minerals, including Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron,
Carotene, Thiamine, Riboflavin and Niacin. Acerola Cherry was once
grown commercially purely as away of producing Vitamin C. Acerola syrup
used to be given to babies and children for this purpose. It was only
when new ways of producing synthetic Vitamin C were invented, that the
economics of natural production was no longer viable.
everyone agrees on the health benefits of taking vitamins artificially,
as supplements. But if you are keen to have a natural source of Vitamin
C in your diet, you may be interested that Acerola is purported to be
one of the richest natural sources, rivalled perhaps only by Rose Hips.
12 to 25 of the fruits supply about 2000 mg. of Vitamin C, which is
well over the average daily requirement. To get an idea how much this
is, consider this. Whereas a glass of fresh orange juice contains about
100 mg of Vitamin C, a glass of Acerola cherry juice contains about
2600 mg – 26 times as much. Note that there are several varieties
of Acerola, and the varieties with highest content Vitamin C have 3
seeds per ‘cherry’, whilst other varieties have more seeds.
is surprising that Acerola is not more commonly grown or seen in
gardens in South East Queensland. It seems very well suited to our
subtropical climate. In other parts of the world, such as South
America, it is widespread as food source, and is cultivated
commercially, and one wonders why that is not the case in Australia.
Here’s some of Acerola’s qualities: suffers few pest
problems (ours only occasionally get a bit of aphid, and are little
affected by fruit fly (here is sometimes a problem with bush rats);
bears prolifically, can produce a number or crops each year, can
tolerate long periods of drought, and has some frost tolerance; small
attractive, evergreen tree or bush; tastes great.
What more could you want in a fruit tree?
fruits can be eaten raw, stewed with a little sugar and then eaten as a
dessert (spitting out the pips), or strained and used as puree. The
addition of pectin makes a delicious jam or jelly. The Vitamin C is not
totally destroyed by heat, for the jelly may contain 500-2000 mg/100 g.
Refrigeration reduces the deterioration of the Vitamin C content. To
help maintain the high vitamin level, juice and puree should only be
kept about a week.
You can propagate your own Acerola tree from
cuttings, using semi hardwood. They can be a little touchy to get
going, taking up to 1 – 2 months. I find it is best to take a
good number of cuttings, so as only a certain percentage will be
successful. Keep the humidity up by covering with plastic bags.
its bright red fruits, an Acerola tree in the garden is a great talking
point for visitors. It is also a really tree for ‘grazing’,
as the fruits ripen a few each day. You can easily have your
day’s quota of Vitamin C by browsing on a handful of fruits
whilst taking a stroll around your garden. It’s one of my
favourite fruit trees.
Barbados Cherry Page