Rainforest Plants - Acerola
Common Names: Barbados cherry or wild crape myrtle
General Description: Acerola,also known as Barbados cherry or wild crape myrtle, is a tropical shrub that bears a small fruit and is now considered very common throughout South America. This small tree is native to the West Indies, Caribbean and northern South America; it is also cultivated in India. As an ornamental shrub, Acerola can also be trimmed into an easy-care hedge. Some reports suggest Acerola is native to the Yucatan. It is primarily consumed as juice and food (fruit).
Location: Acerola is now successfully grown in sub-tropical areas around the world (Southeast Asia, India, South America), and some of the largest cultivated regions are in Brazil.
Uses: Acerola is most commonly grown as an ornamental shrub, not cultivated for its nutritional value, particularly in Southeastern United States. Acerola is actually the fruit of the tree, as well as the name of the tree. It is a berry that is purported to have healing power. Acerola has a higher vitamin C content than oranges (by weight), making its use as an antioxidant highly promising. Vitamin C content in Acerola is very high, contributing to strengthening the immune system and fighting off diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
In addition to ascorbic acid, this berry provides a rich source of vitamin A, magnesium, pantothenic acid, and potassium. Acerola is marketed commercially for supplements juices, jams, ices, gelatins, sweets and liquors.
In addition to the food-based nutritional value of Acerola, it is used in traditional herbal medicine as an astringent, diuretic, arterial stimulant for the liver and renal systems, and as a tonic for general heart health.
Disclaimer: The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any reference to medicinal use is not intended to treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease.