as food: The fruits are eaten in Mexico and sold in markets there.
Fruits are also made into jams and used in tarts. The leaf is made into
a tea. In Brazil, they are planted on river banks so their fallen fruit
attracts fish which are then caught.
Jamaican/Japanese Cherry, Buah Ceri/Kerukup
The Cherry Tree is named for its sweet sticky fruits, juicy and full
of tiny seeds. They are a favourite with birds and bats, which disperse
the seeds, and children too! The leaves are covered with tiny sticky
Although it provides good shade, it is not a popular wayside tree
because the birds and bats that visit the tree also leave their
droppings under the tree.
The tree flourishes in poor soil, tolerating both acid and alkaline
conditions and quite drought resistant. However, it doesn't tolerate
salty conditions and so is not a true mangrove associate.
and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
features: Small fast-growing tree with drooping
branches that give an umbrella-shaped crown. Grows up
Leaves: Simple, covered with
Flowers: Small, white. Last
only one day, petals falling in the afternoon.
Small, round, juicy, green turning red when ripe. Very
sweet, musky, somewhat fig-like flavour, filled with tiny,
yellowish seeds, too fine to be noticed when the fruit
Status in Singapore: Introduced, common in wastelands.
World distribution: Native
to southern Mexico, Central America, tropical South America,
the Greater Antilles, St. Vincent and Trinidad. Widely
introduced to almost all tropical regions.
Classification: Family Elaeocarpaceae.
Other uses: The reddish-brown timber
is compact, fine-grained, moderately strong, light in weight, durable, and
easily worked. It is used to make small boxes, casks, and general carpentry.
The dried timber is valued as firewood for cooking as it lights quickly
and produces intense heat with little smoke. In Brazil, it is being considered
as pulp for paper making. The bark is stripped to produce strong soft cord
made into ropes. Because of its ability to grow quickly on poor soils and
rapid dispersal by birds and bats, the Cherry Tree is being considered as
a candidate for reforestation projects.
Traditional medicinal uses: The flowers
are used as an antiseptic and to treat spasms. It is also taken to relieve
headaches and colds.
Role in the habitat: As a pioneer species
on poor soils, it helps provide shade for other plants to establish themselves.
Its fruits provide food for birds and bats, and it provides shelter for
- Wee Yeow Chin,
"A Guide to the Wayside Trees of Singapore", BP Singapore
Science Centre, 1989 (p. 145: description, habitat, photo).
- E. J. H. Corner,
"Wayside Trees of Malaya: Vol I", Malayan Nature Society,
4th ed., 1997 (p. 251-252: description, habit, distribution).