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Products > Eugenia involucrata
Eugenia involucrata - Cherry of the Rio Grande

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtles)
Origin: Brazil (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Spring
Synonyms: [E. aggregata, Phyllocalyx involucrata]
Height: 15-25 feet
Width: 10-15 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20° F
Eugenia involucrata (Cherry of the Rio Grande) - A slow growing evergreen tree native to southern Brazil that in cultivation often grows as a multi-branching, tree or shrub 10 to 25 feet tall with dark green, glossy 2 to 3 inch long leaves. Older plants develop beautiful trunks with peeling bark exposing smooth wood below. In early spring appear showy guava-like flowers with 4 or 5 white petals and many long white stamens. Flowers are followed by attractive 1 inch long dark red to purple fruit that ripens late spring to early summer and is great eaten fresh or in jellies, jams or juices with a flavor similar to that of a cherry. Plant in full sun and irrigate occasionally with deep watering. Mature plants hardy to 18° F but protection required when younger. Our plants are from seed off the only known specimen in Santa Barbara, a 25 foot tall tree that had been planted as a seed in the 1950's by Dr. Melville and Geraldine Sahyun, at Dr. Sahyun's pharmaceutical research lab, which is now the location of the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society offices. This unique tree was moved in July 2009 to make room for an expansion of the society's library. Prior to the move both seed and cuttings were collected as insurance, should the tree not survive the move. The tree was expertly side boxed into a 12 foot wide box over a 6 month period and then moved by Valley Crest Tree Company to a prominent location on the same property. This plant has long been called Eugenia aggreagata in the trade but we believe this plant correctly to be Eugenia involucrata. The 1996 article in the Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society (109:1996) titled “Cherry of the Rio Grande” by Ralph Sharpe and Wayne Sherman of the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Gainesville, Florida sheds some light on this name. In this article it is noted that in Brazil the plant is known as Eugenia involucrata Dc. as it was described in 1828. In Brazil it has also been known under the synonyms Phyllocalyx involucrata, P. Phyllocalyx laevigatus and in older publications (Texeira 1954) as Myrcianthus edulis or Eugenia edulis; but, in English literature it has long gone under the name of Eugenia aggregata Kiersk. The use of this name comes from a 1958 University of Florida bulletin titled “Miscellaneous Tropical and Subtropical Fruits; Florida Fruits” written by H.Mowry, L.R. Troy and H.S. Wolfe that noted that the plant, 'Cherry of the Rio Grande', was introduced from Brazil as Myrciaria edulis Skeels and has been tentatively identified as Eugenia aggregata. This was followed in 1959 by legendary tree man Edwin Menniger who noted that the “nomenclature here is very confusing”, and that Eugenia aggregata was a synonym for E. condensate Baker, a tree of Madagascar and not Brazil. This led to the investigation that determined that the introduction dated back to seeds known to be 'Cherry of the Rio Grande' but labeled Myciara edulis that were received in the 1930's by William Ott in Whittier, CA. Mr. Ott, whose collection data indicated that the plants came from an area 150 to 200 miles north of Sao Paulo, Brazil, sent seedlings to Dr. H.S. Wolfe in Florida in 1938 and these fruited and seedlings were further distributed as Myciara edulis in 1941 but after 1955 as Eugenia aggregata. Since this plant is known in its native land under the name Eugenia involucrata and the name Eugenia aggregata was used as a synonym for another plant from Madagascar Ralph Sharpe and Wayne Sherman note that the name Eugenia involucrata should take precedence.  This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We will also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information about this plant, in particular if this information is contrary to what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Eugenia involucrata.