West Indian Cherry: Richest Known Source of Natural Vitamin C
West Indian Cherry is delicately sweet and sour, acerola cherries are small-sized fruits of Caribbean origin. Botanically, acerola cherry belongs to Malpighiaceae family of shrubs native to the Antilles, grow naturally in the wild in several parts of Central American, and Amazonian forests. Some of the common names are Barbados cherry, Amazon cherry, etc.
West Indian Cherry is an evergreen large size bushy shrub that reaches about 8-18 feet in height. Its downy woody branches bear beautiful pink, lavender color flowers. Blooming occurs all along its leaf axils year round. Fruits are small-sized berries about the size of table grapes that appear single or in clusters along the entire length of its woody branches. The fruit features bright-red color, round or oblate shape, with tri-lobes which are more obvious at its bottom. Each berry measures about 1.5 to 4 cm in diameter and weigh about 5-7 g. Inside, the pulp is juicy with sweet and tart flavor and consists of three tiny winged edible seeds. Ripe berries are sweeter and juicier than that of immature, green skinned ones that can be consumed out of hand.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF WEST INDIAN CHERRY
The West Indian Cherry is very low in calories. 100 g fresh berries provide just 32 calories. Nonetheless, they compose many health benefiting components such as vitamins, and pigment anti-oxidants that contribute immensely towards optimum health and wellness. The berries possess significantly high levels of antioxidants in comparison to some of other Amazonian fruits such as acai, abiu, wax jambu, etc. Acerola possesses the highest content of vitamin C for any plant-derived fruits/berries. The combination of vitamin C and phytochemical compounds in this cherry would help rid off harmful oxygen-derived free radicals from the body, and thereby, help boost immunity, protect the body from cancers, aging, degenerative diseases, inflammation, and infections.
MAINTENANCE OF THE PLANTATION
Once a plantation has been established, the work should not be considered finished. It will be necessary, for example, to protect the plantation against weather, fire, insects and fungi, and animals. A variety of cultural treatments also may be required to meet the purpose of the plantation.
Cherry fruit plants grown as protective hedge are hardly manured or fertilized. Manuring, however used as 10-15 kg well-rotten farmyard manure or compost/plant and should be applied before flowering.
WATERING AND WEED CONTROL
Young cherry fruit trees should be watered regularly until fully established. In dry western climates, water mature trees deeply at least every one or two weeks. Desert gardeners may have to water more frequently. Mulch the soil around the trees to conserve moisture. Weeding is also very important. Remove all weeds 1.5 meter around the plant.
PRUNING AND SHAPE OF TREE
Regular plantations of cherry can be trained on single or double stem. Therefore additional unwanted shoots or laterals are removed from time-to-time to give the plant desired shape. Bearing plants of normal height do not require any pruning. Suckers arising from ground and diseased dried twigs should be removed.
PEST & DISEASE CHERRY TREES
Every fruit tree has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your tree encounters. If available, disease-resistant trees are the best option for easy care; and for all trees, proper maintenance (such as watering, fertilizing, pruning, spraying, weeding, and fall cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.
HARVESTING YOUR KARONDA CHERRY
Karonda fruits mature 100-110 days after fruit set. At this stage fruits develop their natural color. Fruits ripen after this stage, taking about 120 days (after fruit set) when they become soft and attain dark purple/maroon/ red color. Karonda requires 2-3 pickings to harvest the entire crop. On an average, a plant provides 3-5 kg fruits.
1. Prioritize your tree planting with the sun’s direction to maximize shade by planting on the southwestern and western sides of your home.
2. It can be grown on a wide range of soils including saline soils.
3. For Commercial Plantation, the planting distance for fence/ hedge should be 1-1.5 m, requiring 300-400 plants for planting along the boundary of one hectare field. If an exclusive planting is to be raised, a planting distance of 2 m x 2 m should be enough
4. In a home garden generally we are planting one or two karonda trees along with other species of fruit plants. So it is better to keep minimum 3 meter distance from other plants to plant an karonda tree.
5. 100% sunlight is best but can grow up to 50 % shade
6. During dry weather, initially water the plant once in two days and after one month of planting water every 7 to 10 days during the first year.
7. Do not use chemical fertilizer or any other chemicals on your newly planted trees. Such products will kill your young trees. If needed you can add chemical fertilizers in small quantity (generally below 100gm) after two to three months of planting with sufficient irrigation
8. Do not over water or allow rain water so much that you see standing water in the pit area of the plant. It will damage the plants roots and results the die of your plant.