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PANAMA BERRY

Muntingia calabura
ELAEOCARPACEAE 

 

Panama%20Berry%20Fruit.JPGDESCRIPTION

Fruit: The sweet red berries are the size of a big blueberries and taste like a cross between strawberries and figs, with a hint of caramel and have a soft, juicy texture. We were enjoying the fruits of our tree within six months of planting.

Growth Habit: The panama berry is an exceptionally fast growing, short-lived tree. It grows to about 7m in height and has spreading, near horizontal branches and sticky young stems.

Foliage/Flowers: The leaves are evergreen, alternate, long-pointed at the apex, oblique at the base and 5-12cm long. The small flowers, borne singly or in 2's or 3's in the leaf axils, have 5 white petals and many prominent yellow stamens. They last only one day, the petals falling in the afternoon.

CULTURE

Adaptation : These hardy sun loving trees love frost free subtropical climates like here in Wollongong, can be used as a wind break, and grow to a maximum of seven metres tall. Being such a fast growing tree, they’re perfect to plant in between slower growing fruit trees, and take out when the other trees come into production. They’re also fantastic in community and school gardens, providing quick, rewarding results and yummy snack food.

Panama%20Berry%20Tree.JPGSoils : The tree thrives with no care in any type of soil however for a good harvest it needs regular mulch and well-rotted compost. Fertilize in spring with compost.

Irrigation : It is drought-resistant but for regular watering will improve harvest.

Pruning : Pruning is not usually necessary.

Propagation : There are many shoots from the roots. They can be cut with some finer roots and potted and left in the shade for some weeks. Otherwise, sow fresh seeds directly into the field mixed with the sweet juice of the fruit.

Pests and diseases : May be susceptible to fruit fly and crown gall.

Harvest : Wherever it grows, fruits are borne nearly all year, though flowering and fruiting are interrupted during the coolest months. Ripe fruits can easily be shaken from the branches and caught on cloth or plastic sheets. The Panama berry will fruit within two years. It is eaten out of hand or made into fresh jams.