Acerola fruit or Acerola cherry is variously known as the Barbados Cherry, West Indian Cherry, Cereza, Cerisier and Semeruco. It is believed to have originated along the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and grows throughout South Texas, Mexico, Central America, Northern South America and the Caribbean. It has been successfully introduced into Southeast Asia, India and South America. Brazil is the largest commercial producer of acerola cherries.
It is a deciduous shrub of the Malpighiaceae family that grows best in dry thorn-woodlands. It does not do well if the temperature drops below 30 degrees F. though it can survive in protected areas. It is very drought tolerant but will grow prodigiously when irrigated. It typically grows to about 9 feet in height.
Acerola cherries look a lot like European cherries. They contain two to three small, hard seeds, are quite juicy and sweet-tart. Extremely nutrient-dense, the acerola is famous for its incredibly high vitamin C content, having up to 3000% more vitamin C than orange juice! Ironically, the green cherries have the most vitamin C. As the fruit ripens, the vitamin C diminishes.
Ethno-medicinal properties: antioxidant, astringent, nutritive. It is used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis, fevers. The leaves, fruit and bark have anti-fungal properties.
Want to grow one? They make great bonsai plants and are especially popular with bonsai fans in Taiwan.