Purple-fruited Pitanga (Eugenia uniflora L.): Crop Development and Commercialization

John L Griffis, Jr., Malcolm M Manners, Carl E Sams, Ty G McDonald, Theodore J Radovich


Many species of plants produce some edible or medicinal component, yet fewer than 100 species provide almost all of the food products available commercially worldwide. Hundreds of other edible crops remain non-commercialized; why? Examination of the ongoing commercialization project of purple-fruited pitanga yields some explanations to this question. Pitanga is certainly not a new crop. The wild red-fruited type was spread throughout the tropics many years ago by European explorers. Although the plant grows in many places and is commonly used as an ornamental hedge in Florida, it has seen only limited commercialization of the fruits in its native Brazil. Many factors may have limited further development of the crop although considerable variation among seedlings and their fruits (e.g., many of the fruits have an unpleasant, resinous aftertaste) may be the largest single factor. The dark purple fruits that are the focus of our project tend to taste much better than most of the red or orange fruits. The purple fruits also contain significant levels of antioxidants that are not found in the red-fruited ones. Factors that may have limited further development of pitanga include difficulty in clonal propagation, lack of recognizably superior cultivars, limited production information, lack of pest and disease control recommendations, difficulty in determining when to harvest the fruits, lack of postharvest handling information, lack of nutritional content information, lack of marketing, limited development of commercial uses for the processed fruits and a lack of research funding. Our research addresses many of these factors as the development and commercialization of the crop progresses.


Myrtaceae, Surinam cherry, Pitangueira, Brazilian cherry, Nangapiri, antioxidants

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283