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Malpighia emarginata is a tropical fruit-bearing shrub or small tree in the family Malpighiaceae. Common names include acerola, Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry[4] and wild crepemyrtle.[5] Acerola is native from South America, Southern Mexico and Central America, but now being also grown as far North as Texas and in subtropical areas – Asia and India. It is known for being extremely rich in vitamin C, the highest vitamin C content measured in any fruit, although it also contains vitamins A, B1, B2 and B3 as well as carotenoids and bioflavonoids which provide very important nutritive value and have antioxidant uses.[6] This vitamin C produced by the fruit is better absorbed by human organisms than synthetic ascorbic acid.[7]

Distribution

M. emarginata is originally from Yucatán can be found in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, South America as far south as Peru and the south east region in Brazil, and in the southernmost parts of the contiguous United States (southern Florida[3] and the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas),[8].[2][3] It is cultivated in the tropics and subtropics throughout the world, including the Canary Islands, Ghana, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, India, Java, Hawaii, and Australia.[9]

Adaptation

Acerola can be propagated by seed, cutting and other methods. M. emarginata prefers dry sandy soil and full sun and it’s very susceptible to cold (cannot endure temperature lower than 30°F). Because of its shallow roots, it has very low tolerance to winds.

Description

Acerola is an evergreen shrub or small tree with spreading branches on a short trunk. It is usually 2–3 m (6.6–9.8 ft) tall, but sometimes reaches 6 m (20 ft) in height.[10]

Leaves

The leaves are simple ovate-lanceolate, 2–8 cm (0.79–3.1 in) long, 1–4 cm (0.39–1.6 in), and are attached to short petioles. They are opposite, ovate to elliptic-lanceolate, and have entire or undulating marginswith small hairs, which can irritate skin.

 

Fruit

The fruit is a bright red drupe 1–3 cm (0.39–1.2 in) in diameter with a mass of 3–5 g (0.11–0.18 oz). Drupes are in pairs or groups of three, and each contains three triangular seeds. The drupes are juicy and very high in vitamin C(3-46g kg-1)[12] and other nutrients. They are divided into three obscure lobes and are usually acid to subacid, giving them a sour taste,[10] but may be sweet if grown well.[13] While the nutrient composition depends on the species and environmental conditions, the most common components of acerola and their concentration range are as follow: proteins (2.1-8g), lipids (2.3-8g), carbohydrates (35.7-78g), calcium (117 mg), phosphor (171 mg), iron (2.4 mg), pyridoxine (87 mg), riboflavin (0.7 mg), thiamine (0.2 mg), water (906-920g) and dietic fibre (30g)[6]

Uses

The fruit is edible and widely consumed in the species’ native area, and is cultivated elsewhere for its high vitamin C content. There are 1677.6 mg of vitamin C in 100 g of fruit.[4]

  • Fruit can be used to make juices and pulps, both very rich in vitamin C and antioxidants;
  • Acerola fruit can be used to produce vitamin C concentrate;[7]
  • Baby food and juice[14]

A comparative analysis of antioxidant potency among a variety of frozen juice pulps was carried out, including the acerola fruit. Among the eleven fruits’ pulps tested, acerola was the highest-scoring domestic fruit, meaning it had the most antioxidant potency, with a TEAC (Trolox equivalent antioxidant activity) score of 53.2 mmol g.[15]

Absolut Vodka released Absolut Los Angeles, a limited-edition spirit flavored with acerola, açai, pomegranate, and blueberry, in July 2008.[16]

Other uses

Acerola is a popular bonsai subject because of its small leaf, fruit and fine ramification. It is also grown as an ornamental[17] and for hedges.[9]

Malpighia glabra is one of three ingredients in a proprietary herbal medicine for allergic rhinitis.[18]

Ecology

M. emarginata is a host plant for the caterpillars of the white-patched skipper (Chiomara asychis),[19] Florida duskywing (Ephyriades brunneus),[20] and brown-banded skipper (Timochares ruptifasciatus).[21] Larvae of the acerola weevil (Anthonomus macromalus) feed on the fruits, while adults consume young leaves.[22]

Written on June 13th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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