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Malpighia glabra - L.

Common Name Escobillo, Acerola
Family Malpighiaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rocky limestone, from sea level to 1,000 metres[307 ]. Thrives at elevations between sea level and 800 metres, but it can be found at elevations up to 1,700 metres[418 ].
Range C. America - Mexico to northern S. America and the Caribbean.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Malpighia glabra Escobillo, Acerola

Malpighia glabra Escobillo, Acerola


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Found in Central America, Malpighia glabra or commonly known as Escobillo is a tropical, evergreen, small fruit tree or shrub growing up to 3 m tall. It has spreading and drooping branches on its short bole. Established plants are tolerant to drought. The leaves are glossy, dark green, oval to sword-shaped, and can be wavy along the edge. The flowers are pinkish red. The bright red, ovoid fruits are eaten raw, cooked, or made into juices, sauces, jams, wines, or purees. It has a sweet flavor. It also has medicinal uses. In particular, it is used for the treatment of coughs and colds, diarrhea, dysentery, and liver problems. The bark yields a gum that is recommended as a pectoral; it is also a source of tannins. The wood is hard and heavy, and used for making small utensils.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Malpighia glabra is an evergreen Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Bees. The plant is not self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid and saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Bunchosia parvifolia S.Watson Malpighia biflora Poir. Malpighia dicipiens Sessé & Moc. Malpighia fal

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses: Drink

Fruit - raw or cooked[301 ]. The bright red fruit can range in flavour from sweet to somewhat acid[296 , 301 ]. As well as being eaten out of hand, they can also be stewed, made into juices, sauces, jellies, jams, wines or purees[301 ]. The ovoid fruit is 10 - 35mm in diameter[335 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidiarrhoeal  Antitussive  Dysentery  Pectoral  Vitamin C

The fruits are considered beneficial against liver problems, diarrhoea, dysentery, coughs and colds[303 ]. The bark exudes a gum that is recommended as a pectoral[348 ]. Known historically as a natural source of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Ascorbic acid levels in fresh acerola fruit are in the range of 1.5 to 4% by weight. A glass of acerola juice (180-ml) contains 35mg/ml of ascorbic acid the same as 14 litres of orange Juice.

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Hedge  Tannin  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: The plants are suitable for hedges[303 ]. Other Uses The bark has been used as a source of tannin[303 ]. The wood is hard and heavy[303 ]. It can be used for making small utensils[303 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Hedge

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the subtropics to hot, tropical, lowland areas with medium to high rainfall[303 , 335 ]. It can be found at elevations up to 1,700 metres, but does best below 800 metres[418 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 24 - 30°c, but can tolerate 5 - 34°c[418 ]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -2°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at -1°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,300 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 700 - 2,400mm[418 ]. Tolerates seasonally dry periods[335 ]. Easily grown in a good soil and a sunny position[296 ]. Prefers a rich, deep and well drained soil but is able to tolerate a variety of soil conditions[303 , 335 ]. Sandy soils carry an increasing risk of nematode infection[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7.5, tolerating 5 - 8[418 ]. Requires a pH in excess of 5.5[303 ]. Established plants are drought tolerant[307 ]. Plants are fairly tolerant of salt-laden winds[307 ]. Seedlings can fruit when only 2 - 3 years old, but are not always of as good quality as their parents[296 ]. Trees start to produce well 3 - 4 years after planting and continue for 15 years[303 ]. Plants can produce several flushes of flowers each year[307 ]. The flowers are very attractive to bees[307 ]. Plants can produce 2 - 3 crops of fruit a year[296 ]. Individual trees can produce 15 - 30 kilos of fruit each year[303 ]. Yields of 6.7 - 105 tonnes per hectare have been recorded[418 ]. Plants usually require cross-pollination to ensure a good fruit set[335 ], though there are some reports of self-fertilization[303 ]. Flowering Time: Mid Spring Late Spring/Early Summer. Bloom Color: Rose/Mauve. Spacing: 15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m).

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - germination is slow, with only 5 - 50% of the seed germinating[303 ]. Cuttings Layering Grafting

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Escobillo, Acerola, Barbados Cherry, Wild Crapemyrtle, Antilles cherry, Buesito, Cereso, Choeri, Escobillo, Murta, Palo bonito, San juanillo, San ruanillo, Simeyaranelli, So'ri, Vallari, West Indian cherry, Xochototl,

NORTHERN AMERICA: United States, Texas, Mexico, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Campeche, Chiapas, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave, Yucatán, SOUTHERN AMERICA: Hispaniola, Netherlands Antilles, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, French Guiana, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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