We depend on donations from users of our database of over 8000 edible and useful plants to keep making it available free of charge and to further extend and improve it. In recent months donations are down, and we are spending more than we receive. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


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


Translate this page:


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


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

Now available: PLANTS FOR YOUR FOOD FOREST: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens.

An important new book from PFAF. It focuses on the attributes of plants suitable for food forests, what each can contribute to a food forest ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, and the kinds of foods they yield. The book suggests that community and small-scale food forests can provide a real alternative to intensive industrialised agriculture, and help to combat the many inter-related environmental crises that threaten the very future of life on Earth.

Read More


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

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

Shop Now


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,

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Antilles, Asia, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Caribbean, Central America, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Africa, East Timor, El Salvador, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico*, Nicaragua, North America, Pacific, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, SE Asia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South America, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, USA (Texas), Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies,

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Banisteriopsis caapiYage, Ayahuasca, CaapiClimber30.0 10-12  LMHSNM040
Bunchosia armeniacaAmeixa Do Peru 0.0 -  LMHSNM10 
Byrsonima crassifoliaGolden Spoon, Nance, Nancy TreeTree12.0 9-12 SLMHNDM423
Malpighia emarginataAcerola, Barbados CherryShrub4.0 10-12 MLMHSNM402

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.


Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment



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.

Readers comment

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Malpighia glabra  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.