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The Barbados cherry is native to the Lesser Antilles from St. Croix to Trinidad, also Curacao and Margarita and neighboring northern South America as far south as Brazil. It has become naturalized in Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico after cultivation, and is commonly grown in dooryards in the Bahamas and Bermuda, and to some extent in Central and South America. 2

In a work by Julia F. Morton that was entitled ‘Fruits of warm climates’, it was stated that this fruit tree’s correct botanical name should be Malpighia punicifolia and not Malpighia glabra. Morton stated that latter botanical name refers to a wild relative of the Barbados cherry that bears smaller and pointed leaves, and produces smaller flowers and fruits. However, in Plant Resources of Southeast Asia (PROSEA), both names are synonymous and used to refer to the same plant.

The Barbados cherry is a minor fruiting species that produces a dependable crop in South Florida. The tre is compact, attractive and requires little care. It is well adapted to Florida growing conditions and fruits abundantly over many months. As a dooryard tree it has many advantages. Better selections are mild and faintly sweet. However, the grumichama and cherry of the Rio Grande both produce a superior cherrylike fruit. 7