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The highly ornamental tree is slender, erect, usually to 25 or 35 ft (7.5-10.5 m) high, short-trunked and heavily foliaged with opposite, oblong-oval leaves 3 1/2 to 5 in (9-16 cm) long, 2 3/8 in (5-6 cm) wide, with recurved margin; glossy, thick, leathery, and minutely pitted on both surfaces. They persist for 2 years. New shoots are rosy. The flowers, borne singly in the leaf axils, are 1 in (2.5 cm) wide; have 4 green sepals and 4 white petals, and about 100 white stamens with pale-yellow anthers. The long-stalked fruit is oblate, 1/2 to 3/4 in (1.25-2 cm) wide; turns from green to bright-red and finally dark-purple to nearly black as it ripens, and bears the persistent, purple- or red-tinted sepals, to 1/2 in (1.25 cm) long, at its apex. The skin is thin, firm and exudes dark-red juice. The red or white pulp is juicy and tastes much like a true subacid or sweet cherry except for a touch of aromatic resin. There may be 1 more or less round, or 2 to 3 hemispherical, hard, light-tan or greenish-gray seeds to 1/2 in (1.25 cm) wide and half as thick.

Julia F. Morton
Purdue University