Surinam cherry, cayenne cherry
tall, usually shrub size in Florida; young stems often with red hairs and dark red new
foliage. Leaves opposite, simple, short petioled, oval to lance shaped, 2.5-8 cm (1-3 in)
long, shiny dark green above, paler below; margins entire. Flowers white, fragrant, about
13 mm (0.5 in) across, with many stamens; occurring solitary or in clusters of 2 or 3 at
leaf axils. Fruit a fleshy, juicy, orange-red berry to 4 cm (1.5 in) wide, depressed-globose,
conspicuously 8-ribbed, with 1-3 seeds.
NOTE: Differs from native Eugenia spp. (stoppers) by having relatively larger fruit and at
least some flowers solitary at the leaf axils.
1931, Gordon and Thomas 1997). Widely planted in central and south Florida, espe-
cially for hedges (Maxwell and Maxwell 1961, Watkins 1970). Noted as escaping cultiva-
tion and invading hammocks in south-central and south Florida (Long and Lakela 1971,
Tomlinson 1980, Wunderlin 1982). Has invaded Dade and Broward County hammocks
in high numbers, becoming a target of eradication by park managers (M. McMahon,
Biological and Environmental Consulting, 1995 personal communication). Forms
thickets in hammocks in the Bahamas (Correll and Correll 1982). Also listed as invasive
in Hawaii (Wester 1992). Considered weedy in cultivated landscapes (Broschat and
Meerow 1991), not recommended (Nelson 1996). Now reported from over 20 Florida
natural areas, including national wildlife refuges and rare scrub habitat, in Dade,
Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, Highlands, Lee, Sarasota, Hillsborough, and Pinellas
counties (EPPC 1996).
cultivation also in U.S. Virgin Islands (Little and Wadsworth 1964). Commonly natural-
ized in Dade County (Lakela and Craighead 1965). Herbarium specimens of Florida
naturalized populations collected from as far north as St. Lucie and Brevard counties on
the east coast, Polk County on the central ridge, and Pinellas County on the west coast
(Wunderlin et al. 1995).
to flooding (Sturrock 1959). Freezes at about -1˚C (30˚F); grows moderately fast; can be
easily pruned; has “fair” salt tolerance (Maxwell and Maxwell 1961). Flowers and fruits
primarily in spring, with sometimes a second crop in the fall. Fruits eaten fresh or used in
preserves (Stennis 1931). Plants visited daily by birds during the fruiting season (Stresau
1986). Fruits probably also eaten by small mammals. Propagated for cultivation by seed
(Broschat and Meerow 1991). Also known as a general host for the Mediterranean fruit
fly (Weems 1981).