|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Surinam Cherry (Fig. 3743), Eugenia uniflora (E. Michelii) of the family Myrtaceae, is a large shrub, sometimes becoming a small tree, but commonly branching close to the ground and forming a broad compact bush 6 to 12 feet high. It is indigenous to Brazil, where it is called pitanga. In Cuba it is cultivated under the name of cerezo de Cayena, or Cayenne cherry; in Florida it is a common garden plant, and is hardy as far north as Putnam County, according to Reasoner. In recent years the fruit has begun to appear in the markets. In California the plant does not seem to fruit very freely, and has never become generally cultivated, though it is sufficiently hardy to be grown in the open ground throughout the southern part of the state.
The branchlets are rather thin and wiry: the leaves subsessile, opposite, entire, ovate, subacuminate at the apex and rounded to subcordate at the base, 1 to 2 inches long, glabrous, reddish when young but when mature of a deep glossy green color. When crushed they emit a pungent odor which is rather agreeable; in Brazil they are often gathered and scattered over the floors of the houses, the odor which they give off when trampled upon being appreciated and considered efficacious in driving away flies. The white slightly fragrant flowers are about 1/2 inch in diameter, solitary in the axils of the leaves on slender peduncles up to 1 inch long; the sepals are four, oblong, concave, ciliate; the petals four, oblong-obovate, cupped, ciliate. The stamens are numerous, erect in a large cluster, the filaments filiform and the anthers oval, laterally dehiscent. The style is slightly longer than the stamens, filiform, the stigma simple; ovary bilocular. See page 1162.
The fruits are produced in great abundance during the early spring in south Florida, with frequently a second crop later in the summer; they are subglobose, about 1 inch in diameter or somewhat less, prominently eight-ribbed longitudinally, deep crimson in color when fully ripe, each containing one large spherical seed or two hemispherical ones. The flesh is soft and melting, very juicy, of the same color as the thin skin and of an aromatic, subacid flavor. The fruit is a great favorite in parts of Brazil, where it is commonly eaten out of hand or made into jellies, preserves, and sherbets.
The plant is of very simple culture. It is usually propagated by seeds, which will germinate upon the ground beneath the bush if the fruits are allowed to fall. They can be sown in flats of light sandy loam, and covered to the depth of about an inch. Germination usually takes place within a few weeks. When a foot high, the plants may be set out in the open ground, where they require very little attention. They succeed remarkably well on the shallow sandy soils of southeast Florida, but in their native home are found upon clay or clay loam. Their behavior in California indicates that they are reasonably drought-resistant. Because of their attractive appearance and close, compact growth they are often used in Brazil for hedges, for which purpose they are excellent. CH
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Pests and diseases
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- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963