Muntingia calabura: Singapore Cherry, Kersen

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Muntingia calabura, the sole species in the genus Muntingia, is a flowering plant native to southern Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and western South America south to Peru and Bolivia. Common names include Jamaican cherry, Panama berry, Singapore cherry, Malayan Cherry, Bajelly tree; [Indonesia] kersen.

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It is a small tree 7–12 meters tall with tiered and slightly drooping branches. It has serrated leaves 2.5–15 cm long and 1–6.5 cm wide. The flowers are small, white and slightly malodorous. It gives rise to 1–1.5 cm red fruit. The fruit is edible, sweet and juicy but ‘sandy’ because of its large number of tiny [0.5 mm] yellow seeds.

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It is a pioneer species that thrives in poor soil, able to tolerate acidic and alkaline conditions and drought. Its seeds are dispersed by birds and fruit bats. It is cultivated for its edible fruit, and has become naturalized in some other parts of the tropics, including southeastern Asia.

Photos: KTPH Hospital Garden, Singapore, 20130124

Source: Wikipedia

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