JAMAICAN CHERRY (Muntingia calabra)
A very fast-growing small to medium tree, 8 to 13 m high, branches spreading, nearly horizontal.Leaves are alternate, lanceolate or oblong, long-pointed at the apex, oblique at the base.Flowers with 5 green sepals and 5 white petals and many prominent yellow stamens last only one day, the petals falling in the afternoon.The flowers of this tree resemble strawberry bloom. Hence it is also called a strawberry tree which confuses it with Arbutus unedo.
The fruits of Jamaican cherry are eaten and sold in markets. The fruits can be processed into jams and other products. The leaves are used for making a tea in some countries.100 gm of pulp contains, 77.8 g moisture, 0.324 g protein, 1.56 g fat, 4.6 g fibre, 1.14 g total minerals, 124.6 mg calcium, 84.0 mg phosphorus, and 1.18 mg iron and o.019 mg carotene.
This fruit is a very good source of vitamin C containing 80.55 mg of this vitamin per 100 g of pulp.
Jamaican cherry flowers are used as an antiseptic and to treat spasms. It is also taken to relieve headaches and colds.
The tree yields a useful timber which is reddish-brown, compact, fine-grained, moderately strong, light in weight, durable, and easily worked. It is used to make small boxes, casks, and general carpentry. The dried timber is valued as firewood for cooking as it lights quickly and produces intense heat with little smoke. In Brazil, it is being considered as pulp for paper making.
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