Superfood 101: Pitanga (Surinam Cherry)!

Pitanga is a member of the family Myrtaceae or Myrtle family of the genus Eugenia L., also known as stopper P, containing the species Eugenia uniflora L., commonly named Surinam cherry P. The plant is native to the tropical regions of South America and was brought to India from Brazil by the Portuguese. It is also known as Surinam cherry. Today it grows throughout the tropical world and is used as a decorative landscape accent—and in Florida it is used as a hedge plant. In colder climates pitanga does well as a container plant.

Pitanga is a versatile plant: its leaves are used as a tea and the fruit can be used in a variety of recipes. Pitanga is rich in nutrients and it helps the body to inhibit the development of many diseases. The plant is used in many ways as an astringent, in the form of an infusion for colds and flu, and as a syrup to ease the effects of influenza.


What does pitanga (or Surinam cherry) look like?

Pitanga is a coniferous tree maturing to thirty feet with opposing leaves that can be pinnate, ovate, or slightly elliptical. They are shiny and dark green in color, growing from one to three inches in length. The tree produces blooms that contain four fragrant white petals that grow to one-half inch in diameter.

The fruit has a global shape with vertical ridges evenly placed and matures to one-and-one-half inches in width, containing a hue that ranges from orange to red. There are two to three small light, brown seeds found in each pitanga.


Health Benefits Of Pitanga (Surinam Cherry)

Pitanga ( is rich in nutrients, containing vitamins A, C, and B-complex. Also found in the fruit are the minerals iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Other beneficial substances found in pitanga are dietary fiber, amino acids, and antioxidants. It is low in calories, which makes it an ideal fruit for those on a weight loss diet. Other substances found in pitanga include kaempferol, myricetin, ash, and quercetin.

Pitanga is an excellent food for maintaining a healthy body. It prevents the development of diseases in the pulmonary system because of its anti-inflammatory properties and improves lung function. The vitamin C found in the fruit lowers the risk of developing cancer of the mouth, lung, vocal chords, and throat, as well as, colon and stomach cancer. It also prevents colds, flu, and other viral diseases and boosts the immune system.

Pitanga helps out with lots of other stuff that’s beneficial for your body, too.  For example, it improves digestive health, preventing the development of gastrointestinal diseases, and it can treat diarrhea. Its content of B-complex vitamins aids in the healthy function of the nervous system and increases energy. Pitanga is beneficial to the circulatory system, maintaining normal blood pressure levels and increasing blood flow to the kidneys; this lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. The fruit also contains melatonin which regulates the sleep center of the brain and inhibits insomnia.


How To Grow Pitanga (Surinam Cherry)

Pitanga is a tropical tree that does well in warm climates and can be grown in containers in colder climates. The plant thrives in full sunlight or partial shade and can be planted in soils that are alkaline, clay, sandy, acidic, or loamy. It needs a moderate amount of water and trees should be planted approximately five feet apart to create a hedge. They can produce fruit from two to ten years, depending on the environmental surroundings.


Eating Pitanga (Surinam Cherry)

There are many applications for pitanga and they are a versatile food. The fruit can be made into jams and jellies or eaten fresh, and unripe fruit can be used for chutney and relish. They make excellent pie filling and are ingredients in puddings, pies, and juices. The fruit can be fermented into wines. They are also used as toppings on ice cream and added to salads.