Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Surinam Cherry, Pitanga, Brazilian Cherry, Cayenne Cherry, Florida Cherry
Eugenia uniflora

Family: Myrtaceae (mir-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Eugenia (yoo-JEE-nee-uh) (Info)
Species: uniflora (yoo-nee-FLOR-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Eugenia michelii

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

38 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

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By Thaumaturgist
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By IslandJim
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By Thaumaturgist
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There are a total of 23 photos.
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13 positives
2 neutrals
4 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive greenbau On Apr 6, 2014, greenbau from Lake Worth, FL wrote:

This may well be a threat as an invasive plant in S. Florida, sounds as if that is the case in Dade County and the Keys. Here in Palm Beach county it is growing well but not profusely in my garden, I haven;t seen any specimens in the wild but admit have not looked long and hard. So perhaps it should not be planted in Broward county or south. Sometimes the 'invasive' label seems a bit overkeen; sapadilla is listed as potentially invasive (category II?) and I should hate not to be able to plant this most delicious of fruits which deserves to be better known.

Positive malakai On Feb 23, 2014, malakai from Hampton, FL wrote:

Grows as a perennial here in North-Central Florida. While it has flowered at least every-other year, it has not ever had a chance to set fruit or become invasive.

Positive Maidhc On Sep 21, 2013, Maidhc from Jamestown
Saint Helena wrote:

I'm an Irish national on a two year contract working as Agricultural Production Officer with the Agriculture and Natural Resources Division of the Govt. of St.Helena here in the South Atlantic Ocean. My wife and I live here at Cambrian House Jamestown which is the main(only) town on the island of 90 The climate is sub-tropical and the temperature never falls below 12deg. C.
We have a lovely Surinam Cherry bush in a little patch right in front of our door. It's currently producing its second crop of the year and we are making a S.Cherry and Apple pie today. We both love the spicy, aromatic scent and flavour. Invasive species is a very important matter here on St.Helena but I have not seen another SC plant on the island despite the liking for its fruits by the invasive Mynah Birds which were introduced here to deal with ticks in cattle and which devour everything they can get their beaks on - Rose apples, Figs and Guavas in addition to our S. Cherries. Have seen no volunteer SC plants anywhere in this garden or any other place on the island.

Positive GopherT On Jan 25, 2013, GopherT from Syracuse, NY wrote:

I agree completely with ecological's post. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Negative GoWIld On May 9, 2012, GoWIld from Cape Coral, FL wrote:

I received a Surinam Cherry as a free tree from Researching the tree i learned it is consider a Category I evasive palnt on

I wonder why they would sell or give away a tree that is potentially harmful to Florida's environment? I emailed them and so far no response.

Positive Ikniqpalik On Mar 10, 2012, Ikniqpalik from Anchorage, AK wrote:

When I got my Black-Fruited Surinam Cherry tree, it was dead on the top, &, had miscellaneous dead branches, but, after removing them, it took off just fine, & now, two years later, I'm seeing around 30 blooms, &, just had two open today.
It, & a goodly number of other plants, tropical fruits & fragrant flowers, are all grown under red & blue-spectrum LED lights.

What I'm wondering is, since I absolutely cannot find out in any Internet search, does anyone know for a certainty if these flowers are self-pollinating or what?
Mine, since I live in Anchorage, Alaska, is container-grown indoors, &, has no access to Bees & other pollinators.

Thanks for anyone's help with this.

Positive ecological On Mar 2, 2011, ecological from Orlando, FL wrote:

I am in a state of shock and rage to find this plant negitivized as invasive.It has been a no maintainence,no care privacy fence in my yard for over 40 years.Add to that a secure nesting site for generations of cardinals and mocking birds.This designation has been rendered by the same agency that promoted kudzu for erosion control as air potato until some one ate one and discovered theyre poisonous.With this country fixin to re-live the depression era-ww II subsistance gardening life,any edible fruit bearing plant is by no stretch of the imagination undesirable.Mine have shrugged off a horrific drought and two killer freeze winters.Someone needs a reality reconfiguration or job title.Its being sold in my garden centers as of this posting and I hope it sells well.

Negative NativePlantFan9 On Jan 4, 2005, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uniflora) is very invasive in many natural areas as well as in the landscape as well as in many habitats in central and southern Florida and the Keys from zone 9a southward, including disturbed areas and vacant lots, pinelands, dry xeric sites and many other habitats, including in natural areas! It is weedy and spreading in many counties in the central and southern half of the state, including in my area, and the seeds are dispersed by birds and other wildlife to natural areas and other areas where they sprout, quickly grow and become invasive, and crowd out surrounding native vegetation nearly completely or totally! Because of it's high invasiveness in Florida from central Florida (zone 9a) southward through the rest of the state and the Keys and zone 11, it is now listed on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's Pest Plant List Category One (FLEPPC). It is very invasive especially on the southeast and southwest coasts and in the Keys, especially from the Tampa Bay Area (Pinellas and Sarasota counties) and from Brevard County southward, as well as inland in several counties. It is established and spreading and invasive in several counties in central and southern Florida, including Pinellas, Sarasota, Polk, Brevard, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Collier, Lee and Glades counties as well as probably several other counties not listed by the ISB Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. If you live in central and southern Florida, please DO NOT PLANT THIS PLANT! It takes over, becomes invasive, and seeds are dispersed to many areas where it will spread!

MORE FACTS - The berries are and look like cherries, hence the name 'Surinam Cherry'. The 'cherries' are bright red when ripe, and are orange or green when not ripe. The 'cherries' are commonly eaten where the plant is commonly grown because of that food source, such as in South America and Brazil, where the plant is native and is an important crop as well as ornamental, as well as in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, where it is also grown for food and/or used as an ornamental or hedge. This plant also grows in Hawaii, the Caribbean and Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Negative TREEHUGR On Jan 4, 2005, TREEHUGR from Now in Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Plants don't become catagory I invasives because they leave volunteers in your yard... They become catagory I invasives when birds or other creatures drop fruit/seed they obtained from your surinam cherry in nearby hammocks or natural areas where it spreads rapidly, forms dense thickets and outcompetes native flora as it is doing heavily in Miami-Dade and Broward counties florida, where the plant was once found at every K-mart garden center. The reason invasives get to be a bad problem is because homeowners don't realize what's happening because it's not going on in their yard.

Positive Jamespayne On Jul 22, 2004, Jamespayne from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I am a middle aged man, who has seen a hedge of Surinam Cherry grow completly around my parents home. As a child and today, I love the fruit of this plant. I have never seen any invasive or out of control growing due to this plant. We trim the hedge when it needs trimming and keep it about 3 feet high. It grows in full sun to full shade and the foilage is very attractive, and unlike other hedges it is slow to grow and in need of trimming. This hedge has to be over 70 years old because my Grandparents planted it back in the 30's, and to my knowledge, it has never been bothered by frosts or freezes in zone 9a, central Florida. The darker the berry on this plant the sweeter the taste of the fruit!

Positive foodiesleuth On Apr 4, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

We have two large shrubs in our yard - they are about 10' tall and about the same size in span. They are covered in fruit at this time and usually fruit twice a year.
I do not notice too many volunteer plants underneath. The birds don't seem to bother them and we have no squirrels.

The taste is sweet with a slightly tart undertone. I like making flavored vinegars with it. Wonderful in mixed fresh green salads, with some crumbled feta and chopped toasted macadamia nuts.

3 cups cherries
3/4 cup distilled vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water

Cook until cherries are soft and mushy. Pass through a fine sieve, pushing as much of the pulp as you can through it. Beautiful ruby red color. Makes great gifts.

I have never noticed any larvae on the fruit. We have had a huge crop of them this year and I have been making many different preserves and vinegars.....Made a wonderful trifle with the jam, vanilla pudding and angel food cake.

Honomu, Big Island of Hawaii

Positive Musgrave On Mar 1, 2004, Musgrave from Brandon, FL wrote:

I have been growing these plants since 1947 and eating them always . I like the taste . They do not always taste this way . If given lots of iron and fertilizer & water they get bigger and better. Of course they seem invasive they grow well and cannot be spread by birds perhaps squirrels . I also like their cousins the other Eugenias .

Positive LHGordonMD On Feb 24, 2004, LHGordonMD wrote:

This plant grows well in Hawaii in full or partial sun bearing a large quantity of fruit without any care. It grows up to about 8 feet. With enough sugar, it makes great preserves, a different taste than any other fruit that I know of.

Positive DawnRain On Feb 23, 2004, DawnRain from Bartow, FL wrote:

I grow this tree on my property in central Florida. There has not been one volunteer. I and the grandchildren love the fruit and I have added 4 more seedlings. I am surprised that someone said these large seeds were distributed in bird droppings. My large tree has survived the freezes since '89 and temps in the low 20's for days at a time. Not nearly as tender as I had supposed.

Negative MotherNature4 On Feb 22, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Eugenia uniflora or Surinam Cherry is listed in Category I by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council for Central and South Florida.

Neutral xyris On Aug 22, 2003, xyris from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Although it is a very handsome evergreen small tree, with the bonus of having "somewhat edible" fruit (those I have are too strongly aromatic for my taste), this species can be invasive in central Florida. It germinates very easily from seed spread by animals, and can overtake areas of native woodland shrubs.

Also, in central Florida it easily reaches 12 to 15 feet tall, maybe taller.

Positive IslandJim On Aug 22, 2003, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have a special interest in this plant. I have been selecting its fruit for fruit size and taste for about 6 years now. They normally fruit heaviest in spring [April-May] but also fruit small amounts all year.

In southwest Florida, they grow to be small trees or large shrubs. I am growing one as a small tree in the patio in front of my house and several others as large shrubs in the hedge around my property. The picture I posted shows cherries on the patio tree.

Positive Monocromatico On Aug 22, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This plant, amongst other places, comes from the brazilian coastal sandy plains, in other words, it vegetates on salty, white sand, although never reaching the same height it would in moist soils. I once found a comunity of Surinam Cherries living 500m from the sea under full sun, and the shrubs werent taller than 50cm, although they were loaded with normal-sized fruits - and they were delicious!

On the central plateau and more to the south, where the climate is colder and the soil is more fertile, this same species grows as tall shrubs to small trees, logically producing more fruits than the dwarf ones.

The seeds have a high germination rate, even if you trow it on the ground right after eating the fruit. I got one growing in a vase... I didnt know how until I remembered I threw away some seeds on there some time before.

Neutral Thaumaturgist On Aug 22, 2003, Thaumaturgist from Rockledge, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Surinam Cherry is a small tree/shrub with copper-pink young leaves. Mature leaves are opposite, ovate or narrowly ovate, subglossy with paler underside. It is generally spread by seeds from bird droppings.

Flowers are white, thin and are mostly axillary, solitary or fascicled with slender peduncles with small bracts,
4-lobed calyx, 4 petals.

Fruit are succulent and berrylike with 8 deep longitudinal grooves and 8 ridges. Ripe fruits are juicy and edible but acidic, red to deep red with 1 or 2 seeds.

Surinam Cherry grows best in fertile, moist soils and partial shade.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Lathrop, California
Rowland Heights, California
San Diego, California
Bartow, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Cocoa, Florida
Deland, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (3 reports)
Hampton, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Jupiter, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Miami, Florida
Mulberry, Florida
Naples, Florida
Ocala, Florida
Orlando, Florida (2 reports)
Osprey, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida (2 reports)
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Safety Harbor, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida (2 reports)
Sarasota, Florida
Sebring, Florida (2 reports)
Seffner, Florida
Suwannee, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Venice, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
Windermere, Florida
Anahola, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii
Honomu, Hawaii
Wahiawa, Hawaii
Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Brookshire, Texas
Houston, Texas
Rockport, Texas
Christiansted, Virgin Islands

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