Hardiness: 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
Danger: Pollen may cause allergic reaction
Bloom Color: White/Near White
Bloom Time: Late Winter/Early Spring Mid Spring
Foliage: Grown for foliage Smooth-Textured
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: Non-patented
Propagation Methods: From seed; direct sow after last frost
Seed Collecting: Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
UPDATE RE: LARVAE:
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 weren´t 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 didn´t know how until I remembered I threw away some seeds on there some time before.
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 San Diego, California Bartow, Florida Black Diamond, Florida Boca Raton, Florida Brandon, Florida Cape Coral, Florida Coral Springs, Florida Fort Lauderdale, Florida Gulfport, Florida Hampton, Florida Highpoint, Florida Jacksonville, Florida Keystone Heights, Florida Lake Butter, Florida Lauderdale-by-the-sea, Florida Lockhart, Florida Lutz, Florida Margate, Florida Masaryktown, Florida Merritt Island, Florida Miami, Florida Mulberry, Florida North De Land, Florida Oak Ridge, Florida Orangetree, Florida Osprey, Florida Port Saint Lucie, Florida Rockledge, Florida Safety Harbor, Florida Sarasota, Florida Sebring, Florida (2 reports) Seffner, Florida South Venice, Florida St Petersburg, Florida Suwannee, Florida Tamarac, Florida Vero Beach, Florida Anahola, Hawaii Honolulu, Hawaii Honomu, Hawaii Wahiawa, Hawaii Greensburg, Pennsylvania Brookshire, Texas Houston, Texas Rockport, Texas Christiansted, Virgin Islands