Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Muntingia calabura

Muntingia calabura is the sole species in the genus Muntingia.  It is a plant native to tropical America, now naturalized and widely distributed throughout the tropical regions.

In its region of origin, it is known as Strawberry tree ( Jamaica ) ; capulin, palman, bersilana, jonote, puan ( Mexico ) ; pasito ( Panama ) ; chitato, majaguito, chiriado, acuruco, tapabotija, nigua ( Columbia ) ; majaguillo, majagua, mahaujo, guácimo hembra, cedrillo, niguo, niguito ( Venezuela ) ; bolina, Iumanasa, yumanaza, guinda yunanasa, mullacahuayo ( Peru ) ; calabura, pau de seda ( Brazil ), cedrillo majagua ( Argentina ) ; capulina, chapuli ( Cuba ) ; bois d’ orme, bois de soie marron ( Haiti , Guadeloupe ) ; memiso, memizo ( Dominican Republic ) , etc

It is also known by many names : cerri, talok ( Indonesia ) ; tarkop farang ( Thailand ) ; Datiles, Cereza, Seresa, Manzanita , ratiles, latires ( Philippines ) ; cay trung ca ( Vietnam ).  In Malaysia, it is called kerukup Siam, Panama berry, Japanese cherry, Jamaica cherry, ceri Malaysia, ceri kampung or just simply ceri.

Muntingia calabura is a small tree with vertically layered branches.  It has serrated green leaves 5-8cm long and 1-2cm wide, alternate, oblong-lanceolate, unequal and sub-cordate at the base, acuminate at tip.  Flower is solitary, petal white in 5, sepal green, anthers yellow, stigma bright green.  Fruit is a berry, rounded, about 1.5cm in diameter, immature green, red when ripe, fleshy, and numerous tiny yellowish seeds.

Fruits are consumed fresh, by birds, monkeys, small mammals, and human as well.  Bark used for making rope.  Roots, leaves and flowers are used in traditional medicine. 

Muntingia calabura grows easily via seeds dispersed by birds.  It can thrives in poor soil, thus often a pioneer species, or used in reforestation projects.    Often it is considered as invasive weed.   

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