Cherapu/Button Mangosteen - Garcinia prainiana King
Garcinia Prainiana Cross Section
Fig. 1
Garcinia Prainiana cross section

Button mangosteen Fig. 2 
Button mangosteen

Garcinia Prainiana Fruit Interior
Fig. 3
Garcinia Prainiana fruit interior

Growth habit
Fig. 4

Flower buds
Fig. 5
Flower buds

Male flower
Fig. 6
Male flower

Garcinia prainiana cultivated, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Florida, USA.
Fig. 7
Garcinia prainiana cultivated, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Florida, USA.

Fig. 8
Immature fruit

Fruit habit
Fig. 9
Fruit habit

Fig. 10

Scientific name
Garcinia prainiana King
Common names
Button mangosteen
No synonyms are recorded for this name
Mangosteen, Garcinia mangostana; Brunei cherry, G. parvifolia; cherry mangosteen, G. intermedia; gamboge, G. xanthochymus; gourka, G. dulces; seaside mangosteen, G. hombroniana 3
Clusiaceae (alt. Guttiferae)
Indigenous to the Asiatic tropics, Thailand and Malaysia 4
USDA hardiness zones
Ultra tropical; will not survive the winter cold in all locations north of Key West
Fruit; container plant
Small to medium, 20 ft (6.1 m)  in natural habitat
Plant habit
Evergreen; trees are dioecious, requiring both a male and a female to bear 4
Growth rate
Slow growing; ideal for container growing, maintaining it at 3-6 ft (0.9-1.8 m) 3
Glossy; dark green; opposite; ovate; 2-5 in. (5.1-12.7 cm) 3
5- petaled; red; small but showy; dioecious 3
Bright orange paper thin skin, pulp orange
July-August 3
Light requirement
Needs shade during juvenile stage
PH preference
Drought tolerance
Not tolerant
Aerosol salt tolerance
Soil salt tolerance
Cold tolerance
Lowest cold tolerance of all garcinias; harm 36°F (2.22°C), kill 32°F  (0°C)
Wind Tolerance
Shelter from strong winds
Invasive potential *
None reported
Pest resistance
Few pests or diseases affect the cherapu 3
Known hazard

Reading Material

The Mangosteen Alternative from Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Cherapu, Slow to Germinate from the Tropical Fruit News, Miami Rare Fruit Council

There are over 240 Garcinia species, mostly from southeast Asia. Garcinia species from the Americas were once classified as Rheedia, but now all are considered Garcinia.


Indigenous to the Asiatic tropics, Thailand and Malaysia 4

Deep within the verdant rainforests of Borneo, Cherapu Garcinia prainiana plants begin a most ancient of rituals. Amidst the dense foliage, small red flowers emerge like jewels from the deep green branch tips, effusing their sweet aroma in hopes of seducing tiny insects. Beneath the tropical sun, the insects flitter playfully among the male and female blooms, unwittingly pollinating their thankful hosts. The consummation is a brilliant orange fruit, Mangosteen; a queen is born, and the circle of life continues. 2

The Cherapu is the most cold sensitive of the Garcinias.  It will not survive the winter cold in all locations north of Key West.  The species is nevertheless suitable for growing as a container plant and can be moved indoors when frost threatens.  It produces an outstanding fruit, approximating the flavor of its revered but ultra-tropical cousin, the Mangosteen.  For Florida growers who yearn for fresh Mangosteen, the Cherapu presents a respectable alternative. 3

The button mangosteen has similar foliage to the mangosteen, with attractive dark green, shiny leaves about 8 inches long by 4 inches wide, the undersides pale green with prominent veins. The base of each leaf appears to wrap around the branch, as if it had no petiole. 4

The beautiful rose-colored, camellia-like flowers of both sexes are about 1½ inches wide. Because both appear so much alike, it takes a close inspection to see which has the pollen and is the male. The bloom, which appears singly or in tight clusters, gives this Asiatic tree a highly ornamental appearance. 4

The attractive bright-orange fruit, standing out in sharp contrast to the deep-green foliage, appear from mid-summer into fall. The soft, orange-colored flesh contains two or more seeds. 4
The fruit, round in shape, measures about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The skin is smooth, green when immature (Fig. ), turning a rich orange upon reaching maturity. A lobed calyx is attached to the base. The apex is decorated by a raised, brown 'button' made up of stigma remnants. The thin rind contains between 4 and 8 segments of fragrant , orange flesh of pleasant, subacid flavor. Fruiting takes place when the plant attains a height of about 3 feet. 3

The fruit should be clipped from the branch when fully colored, leaving a short stub of stem protruding from the calyx. 3

Plants come male and female.  Cherapu requires hand pollination.  By taking a pollen-bearing male flower and rubbing it onto a female, fruit set almost never fails. 1
Remember, you need two plants, a male and a female. The two sexes are easy to tell apart by their blooms. The female has no pollen, while the male has a heavy ring of highly visible pollen circling its center. Otherwise, these beautiful flowers, which usually come in clusters, look identical in size, shape and color. 1
Some growers graft a male branch onto a female tree to aid in pollination. 3

The seeds as with many Garcinia species, can be very slow to germinate, and may take 2-6 months to germinate.

The great advantage of the G. prainiana over the G. mangostana is that it can fruit at a young age after reaching thirty-six inches in height. When winter cold arrives simply pick it up in its three -gallon container and bring it indoors until the weather moderates. 1

A complete slow-release fertilizer should be applied at 3 or 4 month intervals. 3

The cherapu needs regular watering.

Few pests or diseases affect the cherapu in Florida. Red-banded thrips are an occasional problem. 3

Food Uses
It is best eaten out of hand. The bitter rind should be discarded. The fruit can be stored for about a week at room temperature and can be stored for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. 3

The Garcinia prainiana was introduced to Florida by William Whitman in 1980. 1
The cherapu is a species fro the dedicated enthusiast. at a minimum, the plant requires adequate cold protection, hand pollination (the precense of a male plant), shelter from strong winds, and regular watering. 3

Further Reading
Sorting Garcinia Names from the Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database, University of Melbourne, Australia ext. link

List of Growers and Vendors


1 Whitman, William F. Five decades with Tropical Fruit, A Personal Journey. Quisqualis Books in cooperation with Fairchild Tropical Garden. Southerstern Printing Company, Stuart, Florida, U.S.A. 2001. Print.
2 "Lovers in the Pavilion: Cherapu, Garcinia prainiana." Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Virtual Herbarium. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.
3 Boning, Charles. Florida's Best Fruiting Plants: Native and Exotic Trees, Shrubs and Vines. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc. p. 104. 2006. Print.
4 Whitman, William F.. "The Mangosteen Alternative." Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. Extract from Tropical Fruit World. Vol.1. Mar. 1990. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.


Fig. 1 Jaitt, Oscar. Garcinia prainiana Cross Web. 29 Jan. 2015.
Fig. 2 Garcinia prainiana. N.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.
Fig. 3 Jaitt, Oscar. Garcinia prainiana Fruit Interior. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.
Fig. 4,5,6,8,9 Garcinia prainiana. N.d. Top Tropicals Tropical Plant Catalog. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.
Fig. 7 Zona, Scott. Garcinia prainiana cultivated, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami, Florida, USA. 2004. Under (CC BY-NC 2.0). Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
Fig. 10 Hind, Christopher. Cheparu. Bill Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. 2005. Public Domain. Web. 27 Jan. 2015.

UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas

Published 27 Jan. 2015 LR. Last update 3 Apr. 2017 LR
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