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Tree Description: The fruit of the Strawberry Tree are born on the outstretched branches of the tree. Each fruit is about the size of a blueberry and contains an abundance of tiny yellowish seeds too small to be noticed when eating. The flavor is often compared to cotton candy. The trees are highly ornamental and fast growing, providing a good source of shade and a fruit that is a favorite among children. Avg. Height x Width: 20' x 20'. Season: Year round. Damage Temp: 28 - 30 F.
Scientific Name: Muntingia calabura
Common Names: Strawberry tree, Jam tree, Jamaican / Singapore / Panama cherry, Cotton Candy Berry, Calabura, Manzanil
Origin: Tropical America
Distribution: M. calabura is native to tropical America, from Mexico to northern Argentina, but despite not being commercially cultivated has since become pantropical. In the West Indies, as well as Brazil, it has been considered as either native or introduced. Introduced in USA (Florida, California) and the Galápagos Islands. Also widely present and naturalized in Southeast Asia, Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, and many other Pacific Islands. Reported also for Spain, New Zealand, East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania), and some islands in the Indian Ocean (Seychelles, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Christmas Island and Cocos Islands).
Importance: M. calabura is commonly planted as an ornamental shade tree, and for its edible sweet fruits, which are eaten raw or cooked into jams and preserves. A number of bioactive compounds, mostly flavonoids (flavones, flavanones and flavans), have been isolated from the roots, bark, wood, leaves and flowers of M. calabura. Extracts containing these compounds have been reported to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, anticancer, hypotensive and antipyretic properties among others, so the species has great potential for the development of plant-derived drugs.