Surinam Cherry

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The shrub or tree, to 25 ft (7.5 m) high, has slender, spreading branches and resinously aromatic foliage. The opposite leaves, bronze when young, are deep-green and glossy when mature; turn red in cold, dry winter weather. They are ovate to ovate-lanceolate, blunt- to sharp-pointed, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 in (4-6.25 cm) long. Long-stalked flowers, borne singly or as many as 4 together in the leaf axils, have 4 delicate, recurved, white petals and a tuft of 50 to 60 prominent white stamens with pale-yellow anthers. The 7- to 8-ribbed fruit, oblate, 3/4 to 1 1/2 in (2-4 cm) wide, turns from green to orange as it develops and, when mature, bright-red to deep-scarlet or dark, purplish maroon ("black") when fully ripe. The skin is thin, the flesh orange-red, melting and very juicy; acid to sweet, with a touch of resin and slight bitterness. There may be 1 fairly large, round seed or 2 or 3 smaller seeds each with a flattened side, more or less attached to the flesh by a few slender fibers.

Authors: 
Julia F. Morton
Publisher: 
Purdue University
Year: 
1987