Home / Aratiles / Aratiles tree: Cultivating the cotton candy flavored fruit.

Aratiles tree: Cultivating the cotton candy flavored fruit.


(Muntingia calabura)


Aratiles Overview:

  • The Aratiles tree is a fast growing tree with cotton candy flavored fruit.
Strawberry tree fruit

Strawberry tree fruit

Fruit appearance:

  • The Aratiles fruit is small, about the size of a blueberry. Unripe green fruit turns orange to red when ripe.


Strawberry tree fruit

Muntingia calabura with penny to show size & cut to show insides.

Fruit taste:

  • The Aratiles fruit is juicy, somewhat gelatinous inside.
  • Hundreds of tiny yellow seeds give a nice texture similar to tiny rice crispy crunches.
  • The fruit is sweet and the smell/flavor is very close to cotton candy. Yes, it is not a typo; cotton candy on a tree. It’s kind of amazing.


Fruit Season:

  • As soon as the fruit ripens more flowers form.  In the warmer months, this is a plant that gives and gives; every day there is more fruit.  However, the tree does take a break in the winter.
Aratales: unripe green and ripe orange/red fruit

Muntingia: unripe green and ripe orange/red fruit

Landscaping use:

  • A medium sized, evergreen, fast growing tree (25 to 40 feet tall).
  • It makes a great shade tree.
  • Slightly drooping lancet shaped leaves. I have noticed that the leaves droop/fold more at night, perhaps to conserve heat.
  • The flowers are small and white. The flowers look like the flowers of a strawberry-thus one of the common names for the tree.
  • I have seen conflicting reports about the life span of this tree. Some say it is short lived (on the order of 7 years). Others say that they had the same tree growing in their yard their whole life (at least 40-50 years).


Aratales flowering, with ripe and unripe fruit at same time

Muntingia flowering, with ripe and unripe fruit at same time



Aratales silhouette

Muntingia silhouette


  • Everything I have read says the plant can grow in the worst soils where other plants can’t survive.
  • It is also said to be drought tolerant. However, the San Diego backyard grower that I bought the tree from insisted that it needs a lot of water.
  • I played it safe and I planted my tree in my typical very rich soil mixture. I have it on a 2-3 x a week watering schedule (it’s on the same drip line as my stone fruit). This has worked very well for me and the tree is thriving.
  • Click here to see my 6/9/13 post on the best planting technique to avoid transplantation shock. 



  • Many references that I have read say that the tree is drought tolerant when established.  However, the guy that I bought it from says that the tree needs a lot of water.  So I don’t know what to tell you.  My experience is that I just water it like my citrus trees and it had been happy.
  • The tree won’t tolerate salt.



  • Full



  • I haven’t read anything about fertilizing. Considering the numerous reports about how well the plant does in terrible soils it may not need fertilizer. I am going to take a wait and see approach on this for now.





  • It is a tropical or near tropical tree and it is said to be rather cold sensitive.  Therefore , I was rather concerned about the occasional cold snaps we get below freezing (0C, 32F).
  • As a result, I planted the tree on the top of a hill to avoid the possibility of any cold air pooling around it in the cooler months.  I guess it worked because it survived the 2012/2013 winter.
  • Side note: I later went back to the place where I bought the tree and the grower was very surprised that it survived the winter. I am not sure if I should feel happy or pissed that someone sold me something they thought would probably die.
  • For more information about the lowest temperatures that you can expect in your area, check out my article “Climate Zones: What can I grow in my yard?”



  • Prone to leaf spot caused by Phyllosticta sp. and Pseudocercospora muntingiae.
  • Also subject to crown gall caused by Agrobacterium tumefaciens.
  • In Florida the fruit have been infested with Caribbean fruit fly larva.
  • I am told that birds love the fruit.  However, I think I eat the fruit off the tree so fast that they dont have a chance to notice it.  However, for other fruiting plants, I have used Holographic Bird Scare Tape that works rather well at keeping the birds away.  If you are going to use glitter tape, it is best to only use it during the fruit season so that the birds don’t get use to it.  A very similar product is Flash Tape but I haven’t tried that.


Food uses:

  • My mother in law was the first to tell me about this tree. She grew up in the Philippines and some of her happiest childhood memories were spent with her sisters picking and eating the fruit of the Aratiles (Muntingia calabura).
  • As it turns out this is not an uncommon scenario. In many parts of the tropics such as the Philippines, the fruit is devoured by young children right off the tree and the fruit never makes it to market on any scale. So as you can imagine, the fruit is great to eat just out of hand. The fruit is also made into jams and the fruit is also cooked into tarts.
  • The leaves have been used for tea and the flowers have been used for folk/home remedies.



  • Native range extends from southern Mexico to Peru.
  • It is considered a pioneer plant, which means it has the ability to get established in poor growing conditions where other plants won’t survive. As a pioneer it could help condition the soil and make it habitable to other plants. However, the same intrinsic qualities of the plant make it a potential invasive species.  However, considering the cold intolerance the plant has I dont believe that this would be a problem in California.
  • I have found an impressive array of different local names for this tree from around the world (see below).
  • Strawberry tree, Jamaican cherry, Panama berry, Singapore cherry, Bajelly tree, Strawberry tree, Bolaina, Yamanaza, Cacaniqua, Capulín blanco, Cigua, Niguito, Memizo,Memiso, Kersen, Trứng cá, Thực vật, Aratilis, Aratiles, Manzanitas, Sarisa, Ceri Kampung, village cherry, palman, bersilana, jonote, puan, capulin de comer, pasito or majagüillo, chitató, majagüito, chirriador, acuruco, tapabotija, nigua, majagua, majaguillo, mahaujo, guácimo hembra, cedrillo, niguo, niguito, nigüito, iumanasa, yumanaza, guinda yunanasa, mullacahuayo, calabura, pau de seda, cedrillo majagua, capulina, chapuli, bois d’ orm, bois de soie marron, memiso, memizo, bois ramier, bois de soie, datiles, ratiles, latires, cereza, seresa, takop farang or ta kob farang, kakhop, cay trung ca, buah cheri, kerukup siam, Japanese cherry, Chinese cherry, jam fruit.
  • Name update 9/15/15.  A fellow reader has just shared that the tree is also known as Mansanitas in Leyte, Philippines. Thanks Beth Dongon!
  • Name update 9/18/15:  Another fellow reader from Maasin city, Southern Leyte, Philippines adds that it is also known as Mansanitas there. Thanks Ayee.
  • Note of naming confusion: One of the most common names for this tree is strawberry tree. However, this is also a name used for several other trees including the European native Arbutus unedo.

About Thomas Osborne, MD

Dr. Osborne is a Harvard trained Radiologist and Neuroradiologist who loves to share his insight about medicine and gardening.


  1. Hello, I was wondering if you could comment about where you found the tree for sale in San Diego. Just found out about the tree and would like to grow one too. I’m in Oceanside and want to give it a shot. Thank you for the article and info.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Hiel
      Thanks for the note.
      I found the tree at “Ong Nursery”: http://www.ongnursery.com/
      However, just to prepare you, its not your average nursery… and not just because it is only open on the weekends.
      The nursery is basically the owners home property. The family is from Vietnam and depending on who is there at the time, there may be a slight language barrier. Therefore, it may help to write down-or print what you are looking for so you can just point to it if need be.
      That being said, I have been to this nursery many times and they all seem very knowledgeable about their plants.
      Overall, you will find an impressive variety of hard to find tropical plants sold at a fair price by a hardworking family.

    • go to philippines they are lot their

  2. Is it Possible to use it’s fruit to make sugar?… if it is can you mail or post here the procedure Thanks!!.. by the way you did a GREAT JOB!!!.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Richard
      Thanks for the interesting question for your thoughtful complement.
      Personally, the Aratiles fruit usually gets eaten before I get back to my house.
      I have not tried to make sugar out of this fruit, but it that is an interesting idea.
      Ill ask around and get back to you if I hear anything.

      • Pls notify me if ever you can make sugar from the Mansanitas. It grows just anywhere here in Cagayan we Pro City, Philippines. I’m surprised what the aratiles has to offer us people. Thanks lots to you, Dr Thomas.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hi Evelyn
          I have not made sugar from the Mansanitas.
          However, I know many people like to make the fruit into jams and jellies.

    • Hi Doctor! Just wanna know if how much of that Aratiles would be used as tea? It would be good as for research. Thanks.

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Hey Starlyn
        I have read that some people use the leaves of Aratiles for tea.
        However, I have no experience with this.
        I just eat the fruit.
        Perhaps another reader has some insight to share.

  3. G’day Thomas
    I also had childhood memories of picking the fruits from the tree. I migrated to Australia over a decade ago and last year I bought two Aratiles trees hoping my little girls will have the same wonderful childhood memories of the lovely fruit tree.
    I live north of Sydney and happy to let you and your readers know my trees survived last winter. They didn’t like the cold wind much so I placed it in full sun and in front of my feijoa hedge facing North (your winter sun would be southward in the northern hemisphere). I watered it less during winter as well but you are correct with watering it like a citrus tree…. We are in our last month of summer here and I noticed my trees stopped producing flowers and wasn’t looking good so I watered it everyday and gave it some organic fertilisers complete with potash and blood&bone. But I still haven’t successfully gone past the flowering stage. After the flowers die, I do not get any fruit. Got any tips? Oh by the way they are in pots as well.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Chrissie
      Thanks for the note.
      As far as your question about fruiting… I am not exactly sure why your tree has not fruited but I have a few ideas.

      1. Tree could be too young:
      However, my Aratiles tree was fruiting at a really young age.

      2. Plants don’t like to be potted:
      I have noticed many fruit trees (regardless of the type) will only fruit/or would fruit better if they were in the ground.
      In large part it may be that the more extreme flux in root temperature and moisture for potted plants is rather stressful for most plants.

      3. Mycorrhizae
      I also suspect that it has a lot to do with the microscopic symbiotic ecosystem that develops in the ground… but can only develop to a limited extent in potted plants.
      The main players in this symbiotic relationship are with beneficial fungus called Mycorrhizae.
      Mycorrhizae join up with roots to bring in nutrients and water to the plant more efficiently then they could do on their own.
      So this stuff can help potted plants as well, but you often have to add it in the pot. You don’t need a lot b/c this stuff is living and it multiplies. However, it does need to touch the roots to get going.

      4. Mycorrhizae (cont)
      However, (and amazingly) Mycorrhizae also help plants talk to each other through their underground connections.
      Obviously, plants need to be planted for this to happen.
      There is a recent article about adjacent plants that would talk to each other via their roots and Mycorrhizae to warn of infections.
      I know, it sounds crazy-cool, but it is a real thing.

      Here’s a link to some of the recent Mycorrhizae-talking references.



      These Mycorrhizae benefits are the main reasons why I dust the roots of my plants with Mycorrhizae at the time of planting.
      (see my planting suggestions article for more details).


      Good luck and keep us posted.

    • Mine won’t allow the fruit to ripen except after a good rain. They all just stay green and drop otherwise. Yours may just need a good soaking.. It likes to grow near rivers afterall.


      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Hey Binu
        Sorry to hear about the fruiting issue.
        Aside from protecting your aratilies tree from dogs… there are a few other things to consider about fruiting.
        If the tree is small, it may not be mature enough to produce a lot.
        That being said, I have been able to get a few fruits from a very young 1 foot tall seedling.
        They dont like cold much, so if they survive a hard winter.. it may still throw them off for the next fruiting season.
        Watering enough makes a difference… although I dont think they like to be soaking all the time. Good draining soil is preferred.
        Pollination doesnt seem to be a problem around here because they do a great job attracting bees. However, if there is a bee problem in your area (not enough bees), that could be a contributing factor.
        Hope this helps,

  4. can i grow one from its fruit?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Faye
      That’s a great question.

      The answer is yes you can grow Aratiles (Muntingia calabura) from seed.
      I have read that in Brazil, farmers will squeeze out the fruit juice and seeds directly into the ground to grow the trees.
      In Brazil, they will also prep the seeds for future planting by rinsing/washing the fresh fruit seeds and juice several times with water and then dry the remaining seeds in the shade.

      I have also read from others that constant humidity in the germination stage is very important.
      There is some debate about the need for sunlight in the early germination stage.
      However, with the combo of humidity in a sealed container and lots of sun, I would imagine if could be easy to bake the little seedlings too.

      I have not grown any Aratiles from seed myself, but I intend to give it a try this season.
      Ill update the site if I have any luck.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Awesome suggestion Mike!
      Thats exciting!
      I will have to plant a Guama tree.
      Can you recommend the place where you bought yours?
      Any growing suggestions or issues that you would like to share?

  5. Hello!

    I LOVE this fruit and have spent many hours on the web chasing its many names – it has been and still is quite a goose chase. From ‘jamaica cherry’ to ‘capulin’ to ‘panama berry’ and now to ‘aratiles’!

    I live in Florida and I cannot find this tree anywhere — furthermore, I can’t find this tree in any nursery that will ship the darn thing to me! Does anyone have a resource for this? I’d be VERY appreciative for a lead on one!

    Thank you to anyone who has a tip!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey KC
      Yea, I totally agree, it is a cool tree.
      Too bad you cant find it in FL… It should grow great there.
      I know some local guys around here that carry the strawberry tree, aratiles, jamaica cherry, etc…
      Ill ask around to see if they are able to ship and let you know.
      best, Tom

    • I don’t know if you found this tree or not by now, but I’ve seen this tree for sale at Kerby’s Nursery in Seffner, Florida. http://www.kerbysnursery.com/

      I saw it there last spring. They may keep a stock of these trees. I wish I purchased! Definitely an intriguing fruit. I was there for a pomegranate tree instead.

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Thanks for the additional info Meghan!

      • Thanks so much for the info.! I’ll check it out — I really appreciate your help, all of you! If there’s anything I can help anyone with, give me a shoutout!

        • hi kc
          I have a small edible nursery in summerfield fl, just south of ocala. I love the srrawberry tree! I also have hundreds or sale in many different sizes. U can email me at mcp4452 at gmail dot com.

    • I have a jamaican cherry in my yard if you’re interested I wouldbe happy to give you some for free

    • I’m trying to find out if you can clone a Jamaican cherry, I have one in my yard and I’d like to put more in, I live in South Florida and I’ve had 1 for years, if any of your readers would like some berries for free I’d be more than happy to give them to him, I personally think the fruit tastes rotten but the tree is beautiful and my neighbors and the kids love it and it creates wonderful Quik shade

      • I would like some of the fruit to get the seeds and plant them. I would appreciate it very much ,if you can.
        thank you,

    • May be a little late but in bradenton fl there is a free botanical park called palma sola botanical park. The have a lot of growing fruit trees including one of these which is ripe as of now. You possibly could manage to grown one from the berries itself. It’s worth a shot!

    • I live in central Florida actually Lakeland and I just bought one 2 weeks ago. They will have more in Oct. Email me if you have not found one yet. Jan

  6. Hi KC, I recently ordered this tree from Logee’s. It is a nursery that ships out of CT, they have a nice variety of tropical fruiting plants. I live in Richmond VA, so I will have to keep it potted 🙁 .If I get a few fruits a year I will be happy.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks for the info Jewel!

      • Thank you, Jewel!

        I visited the site — how long was the period between receiving the tree in the mail and its bearing fruit?

        I’m doing more and more research, learning about ‘maturity rates’ and the point at which trees are able to bear fruit — some have a ten year wait period!

        Again — thanks so much for the resource!

  7. Hi! I’m doing a research about the jamaican cheery fruit, but I can’t find any exact components these fruits contain. Can you help me to find out? Thank you for you help! 🙂

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Interesting Marcus

      What type of research are you doing?
      Is it personal or academic through a university?
      Quantitative research, Qualitative research, mixed methods?
      Do you want to research already published material in a metadata/Meta-Analysis format or is it novel bench research?
      What types of components are you looking into; (seed count, water content, chemical: molecular, elemental, spectroscopy, etc)?


      • Hi Thomas. I’m doing a research about Jamaican Cherry too. It’s an academic research. Does Jamaican Cherry have an anti-microbial component in its fruit/seeds? Does it have the necessary component to support the growth of bacteria in a culture media? It would be a great help to me and Marcus to know the answer to these questions. 🙂

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Interesting question Hamilton

          In general:
          All fruits (and vegetables) have some type of antimicrobial properties.
          Plants are not alone in this battle; other bugs and fungi fight each other fro survival with a complex cocktail of chemicals.
          Penicillin for example is produced by a fungus (Penicillium fungi) and we happened to discover that this chemical can be extracted to help us too.
          The majority of our current antibiotics are derived from nature.

          Since bacteria and other bugs are all around us in staggering numbers, fruit has evolved to combat at least some of that.
          Without some sort of antimicrobial defense, all fruit would quickly rot before it could be eaten.
          Often the bulk of the antimicrobial element is concentrated in the skin of the fruit to keep the bugs out.
          To this point, you may notice that fruits will rot faster if the skin is damaged.
          This might be why we find that the rind of some fruits (like oranges) tastes bad… It may actually not be good for us and our taste buds are letting us know.

          More specifically:
          Some fruit are better at this than others.
          Some fruit are specifically adapted to defend against specific kinds of pathogens.
          Sometimes this stuff can be good for us, and sometimes the plants defense is so powerful that it is actually bad for us.
          As an example, please reference my euphorbia article.

          Fruit is good:
          However, there is a staggering amount of evidence that eating fresh fruit is really really good for us.
          And it is no surprise because we have co-evolved to eat fruit… That’s just how we are built.
          The reason fruit is good for us is not only good because of the direct antimicrobial properties. Fruit is also good for the antioxidant elements, as well as the fiber, vitamins and minerals, etc.

          Michael Pollan has done a lot of great writing on this, His book, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s ManifestoIn Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” is a great read.

          A recent article in the journal of food science also touched on some of these ideas.

          Research considerations:
          So when doing research in in vivo, it can be a bit confounding to sift all of this out. The issue is that all of the other goodness in fruit will support our immune system to do a better job and this is difficult to separate these components from the intrinsic direct antimicrobial properties of the fruit (which I think you are asking about).
          In vitro studies attempt to avoid these issues by looking at how things work outside of people. However, this has issues too because it ignores many of the very real complex interactions.

          Jamaican Cherry (Aratiles) research:
          Theres an article in Science about the Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Bacterial Efficacy of Aratiles Leaves.
          That article, and contacting those authors might be an interesting resource.

          However, overall, I would suspect that there is a lot of crossover with other fruits.
          That being said, the flavor of the Jamaican Cherry is so unique, that it may be a reflection of some interesting and specific antimicrobial elements. If something new was discovered, then you could be on to something very big and important for medicine/pharmacology.
          If I were looking to do original research on the antimicrobial properties of the Jamaican Cherry (Aratiles) I would start with in vitro studies.
          I have heard of some folkloric use of the flowers as a topical antiseptic, so there might be something to it.

          Good luck and keep us posted!


  8. Good Afternoon, Dr. Tom. I enjoyed reading this page on aratiles. I grew up in The Philippines, surrounded by aratiles trees. I know that many Filipinos use its leaves to relieve stomach pain. I love to boil the leaves for a tea substitute with rice cakes. I love the fruits much. I have been thinking of its medicinal value and which you may share to us. Recently I planted pomegranate seeds in th Philippines which I and my children will plant these 700 – 800 seedlings, 6 months hence in our former sugar cane farm. Do you think I can plant aritiles with the pomegranate for these reasons: 1) to attract bees to pollenate the pomegranates, 2) to promote the medicinal value of the aratiles which abounds in our country. Thanks from, Adelina,a plant lover.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Adelina

      Thank you:
      Thank you for your positive feedback
      Thank you for the additional information about how many Filipinos use the Aratiles leaves to relieve stomach pain.
      …And how you use the leaves as a tea substitute.

      The fruit is wonderful:
      I currently have a crop that is beginning to ripen.
      My daughter and I have been eating the berries for the last few weeks.
      She loves them!

      Your pomegranate orchard:
      you have 700-800 pomegranate seedlings!
      Wow, that’s a lot of plants.. I only have 3 pomegranate trees/bushes.

      Attracting bees:
      Great thoughts; this is always a good idea.
      The best plant option for you would depend on what happily grows in your part of the world.
      Therefore, since you have a lot of aratiles normally growing in your area, that tree would be an awesome option.

      However, as you know, bees also love all kinds of flowering plants.
      I would think that a variety of flowering plants would be a big benefit to make sure that there are always flowers around to attract the bees.
      For example, my rosemary bushes seem to be constantly flowering and buzzing with bee life.
      If rosemary will grow in your area, this may also be a complementary plant option to consider.
      Here is an article I wrote about how to easily propagate rosemary.

      Medical value of aratiles:
      An aratiles orchard that also provides reliable education materials may be part of the solution.
      Based on your plans, you might be able to play an important role here.
      However, a key component would be to gather the most medically sound research on the subject.
      Another amazing option for you would be to partner with a university project working on this type of research.

      More academic research is needed on the subject.
      For example, before medicine (at least in the US) accepts the use of this plant, there needs to be respected evidenced based research.
      This would include research on the treatment efficacy of the plant compared to standard treatments, as well as side effect issues and safe-effective doses.

      Sounds like a fun project.

      Please keep us posted.


  9. I have these trees (Aratiles Calabara) growing in my garden here in Thailand. I would like to grow new ones from these trees elsewhere. New shoots spring up from the underground roots and I have to mow them to keep them under control. I have tried to take one of these shoots with some of the parent tree attached and unsuccessfully tried to grow it. What is the best way to propagate a new tree?
    A nice educational and informative site bye the way.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Ron

      Another beautiful part of the world.
      I few years back I traveled from Bangkok to Chiang Mai… and then hiked into the deeper jungle with the help of elephants and bamboo rafts.
      As I am sure you know, Thailand has stunning historical sights and wonderful people.
      Overall, it was quite an amazing trip for me and I feel fortunate to have been able to take that adventure.

      Aratiles shoots:
      That is an interesting dilemma you have; my aratiles tree does not create the shoots that you described.
      Perhaps your growing environment is so good that the tree is able to express this trait.
      I would think that you would be able to grow a plant from one of these shoots though.
      It works for many other plants.
      Perhaps the shoots need to become bigger-more mature with a strong root system before they will survive transplantation.
      Hopefully another reader will have some direct experience in this area to help you.

      I suppose that some of these ‘shoots’ around the base of your tree may also be seedlings that are growing from fallen fruit/seeds.

      Aratiles from seed:
      From what I have read, farmers in tropical regions will sow the seeds directly into the field.
      If I understand it correctly, it sounds like they just squeeze out the seeds and juice of the fruit into the planting spot.
      I have done something similar when growing the Inca Berry.
      Heres a link to my Inca Berry article for reference:

      Ill have to try this myself with aratiles.

      It also sounds like you can prep the seeds for future planting by cleaning them and then drying them.
      Specifically, the seeds are washed in a container until the juice and flesh are rinsed away.
      The seeds that sink to the bottom of the container are the good ones and the rest is poured off.
      The remaining seeds are dried in the shade and saved for future planting.

      Best of luck and keep us posted.


      • Thanks for the speedy reply Tom. Yes, Thailand does have a lot to offer. I did the jungle, raft and elephant trekking in 87. My son and his future wife came over and they loved it. We stayed overnight in the headman’s house of a Lisu tribe. Quite an experience.
        I’ll try the advice you have given and let you know how I get on. I may wait a while as the monsoon rains are late this year and we have had hardly any rain, although it looks a bit promising this morning.
        Thanks again.

  10. hi thomas

    do you think it will survive in canada?you know we have long winter.. does it hybernate and comeback after winter?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks for the question Frank.
      And lol… I am definitely aware that you have a long winter in Canada.

      The Aratiles tree is very tropical
      Unfortunately, this plant is not expected to survive a Canadian winter.
      The survivable range in North America seems to reach its limit in Southern California and Florida.

      However, if you live close to US border, then there is a reference source that you might find useful when evaluating other plants.

      I recently wrote an article about climate zones and you may be able to get your exact climate zone number from that article.
      Having your specific climate zone number should get you to the plants that will work in your area.



  11. Hi,

    I recently moved to Panama and just heard about this tree. I have 30 acres and want to plant a few but I don’t want to do it from Seed –

    On the off chance would anybody know where i can get several small trees to transpant in Panama



    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Shannon
      Great question
      I have tried a bunch of different ways to grow these guys from seed and I have some great pointers now that I have success.
      I will try to write a dedicated article about it soon. Perhaps early next week.

  12. I don’t know if this can help.. I came from the Philippines and we refer the plant as “Sarisa”. the plant grows here abundantly even without being cultivated (must be because we have only 2 seasons). But I noticed that most of them grew where there is an abundant source of water in any type of soil. It grows and bears fruits under 2 to 3 years. They don’t grow fast when potted (since i tried them and they didn’t grew that fast unlike the ones that grew all on its own). The sprout usually came from the fruits that falls from the tree(the dark reddish ones). They grew very very tall and have to chopped down from time to time. We even have a tree that have fallen due to typhoon Haiyan(Yolanda) and was uprooted but it still continue to strive and bears a lot of fruits this time. Between March to May is when the ripe fruits are really abundant(seriously, half a day and I have a cupful of them and when I went back in the afternoon when I thought there was nothing I still got another cupful, this is coming from a tree that was growing from the abandoned neighbor’s yard.

  13. Hello! I just eant to ask if how long does it take for the aratilea to fully grew and have fruits? Were having our feasibolity study and i would like to make a jam made of aratiles. Just want to have some info for our study. Thank you!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Wency
      Thanks for the note.

      Where are you doing your feasibility study?

      Per your question.
      The aratilies is a relatively fast growing tree.
      As you can imagine, exact growth rate will be influenced by environmental factors.
      For me, in Southern California, it has done quite well.
      One of the main keys seems to be to plant in a frost protected area, such as a protected hilltop where cold air will not collect and there is lots of sunlight.
      I know that a lot of people do make jam with the fruit. I havent done that myself, basically we just eat them as soon as they are ripe off the tree.
      There are multiple crops of fruit in the warm parts of they year (spring to late fall). Fruit is bigger in the warmer parts of the year if you can get the watering right.
      The tree starts to fruit at a young and small age.

      Hope this helps.

  14. Hi tom, I’m randy
    Just asking if you have any idea how I will extract the juice of aratiles? Is it better to boil or squeeze the fruit?… I’m planning to make candies out of aratiles… I’m from the Philippines…

    Thanks a lot Tom…

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Mabuhay Randy

      Great question.
      However, the fruit at my place is so quickly eaten.. we really dont think about doing anything else with it.
      Therefore, I dont have first hand experience making candies, jelly, etc with atatiles fruit.

      Hopefully another reader can chime in with their experience.

      In the mean time, I have some thoughts to consider.

      By squeezing the fruit you can extract most of the juice from it.
      However, as you know, the fruit is small so that would mean a lot of squeezing.
      Another thing to consider is that boiling any fruit can lead to a loss of nutrients and flavor.
      The skin of the fruit is somewhat bitter, so leaving that out by squeezing may change the flavor too.

      Hopefully we can come up with some more insight.


  15. Hello Dr. Osborne,

    Thank you for your blog! I cannot overstate how helpful personal growing experiences are, and how grateful I am to people like you, who take the time to share their experiences. I first learned about Aratiles from your blog and had to try one. I’m in the Phoenix area and it grows well here, but needs afternoon shade and more frequent watering than a citrus tree, more like an olive tree. The only negative is that the fruit doesn’t ripen in the summer heat and has an off flavor. How is your tree doing? On some of the forums I frequent, people claim that older Aratiles have some cold tolerance. What are your experiences with this tree during the winter? Do you know what the lifespan of this tree is? I’ve read that it can be rather short.

    Best Regards,

    P.S. Here is one of the most informative talks I’ve seen on reversing desertification. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but if not, then you might be interested.


    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Sarah
      Thank you for the great note!

      Thanks for the info:
      Interesting info about growing Aratiles in Arizona. Sounds like the moisture free mid day sun is too much for them. Thanks for sharing.

      How is my tree doing?
      My tree is doing great and I have several seedlings going.

      Cold tolerance:
      I have heard the same that older trees are more cold tolerant, but aratiles in general does not like the cold.
      Therefore, I planted mine at the top of a hill with no risk of cold heavy air collecting around it.
      Seems to be working.
      Tree doesnt fruit or grow much in the winter, but gets by.
      It grows relatively fast in the warmer months as long as it gets enough water and is not too hot-dry at the same time.

      Aratiles Lifespan:
      I have also heard that the tree has a short lifespan.
      I have seen some say that the max age is around 7years (seems a bit short to me though). Although the sources of this information that I have seen are questionable.
      None the less, I have also noticed that (in general) fast growing plants seem to have a short lifespan… and this tree grows on the fast side.

      I have not had my aratiles tree long enough to know how true any of this is.

      Thanks for the link. Cool topic. Love TED talks. I will check that out soon.


  16. Hello Doc!

    Are there any recent study of aratilis for medicinal doc? I found only few by now, hope you can help to give more reliable journals about it. Thanks in advance!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Benj
      Good question.

      Yea, I have heard a lot of claims about the numerous health benefits of Aratiles fruit and even the leaves, etc.
      However, much of that information I have seen was on nontraditional health sites.
      None the less there are some scientific journal articles on the topic.

      To find the latest, I would:

      Go to
      google scholar

      and use the scientific name of the plant to do a search:
      Muntingia calabura medical


  17. This is the first ever article I read about the tree. We call this tree Mansanitas in Leyte, Philippines. This tree has been a part of my childhood since we always play under its shades most of the time fighting who gets the ripe fruits first. Finding the orangy-cherry tiny fruits amidst the green leaves is a real challenge. It was fun actually.Thanks to your blog. At last the fruit gets the recognition it deserves. I am amazed knowing the fruit grows even in 4 seasoned places. And I am very happy know the benefits it can give to one’s health. I haven’t seen any jam or jelly of Mansanitas yet. And yes it has never made its way to the market, kids are the culprit I guess.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Beth
      Thanks for the note.
      I have heard a lot of stories similar to yours; how this tree and fruit is a beloved part of childhood memories.
      Thank you for sharing your stories.
      I will add your local name for the tree in the article.

  18. can we eat this fruit?
    is there any side effects if we eat it daily?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Meenu
      Thanks for the note.

      I am curious why you have asked about eating this fruit.
      Please share any additional information you may have.

      To your point:
      It is important to be very sure about the safety of any fruit/food you eat.
      Specifically, in this case, you will want to be sure you are dealing with the plant that goes by the scientific name of Muntingia calabura. There are other plants with small berries that could be poisonous and you dont want to mix that up. to further complicate things, Muntingia calabura is known by many common names and some of those common names are also used for other plants/fruits.

      So assuming we are all talking about Muntingia calabura, there are lots of people who have eaten this fruit around the world. I am not aware of any toxicity of the fruit but, that is not my area of expertise and I suppose anything is possible.

      The Horticulture and Landscape Architecture division of Purdue University has an article about this plant/fruit and they use the name Jamaica Cherry as the common name (but of course the scientific name is the same because it is the same tree/fruit). In that Purdue University article there is no reference of toxicity. In that article, they do however have a chart that outlines the nutrition contents of the fruit.

      As a side, I did just find an interesting scientific article about how the leaves have medicinal properties (below). But that is really a different question/topic all together.
      Activity-Guided Isolation of Bioactive Constituents with Antinociceptive Activity from Muntingia calabura L. Leaves Using the Formalin Test


  19. Thank you so much for this article! True, this fruit-bearing tree deserves so much more. It has been part of many cheerful Filipino childhood memories. And you are right, kids are the culprit why this never made the market. Also, it is irresistible once you pick the fruit, you’ll definitely be tempted to eat it, again and again. Plus, I guess because the fruit is so soft, it will easily get squished, not good to market. It’s just sad to know that nowadays, people do not know the happiness this tree brings!

  20. Hi Tom,
    Im from southern california trying too look for the aratelis tree. I tried calling ong nursery but the owner said they dont have this tree. Do you know of any other place that i can get one?

    Thanks , kat

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Kat
      Good question, they are hard to come by. I got mine at Ong, so if they dont have them I am not sure…
      I have a few little seedlings going but they are too small to safely transport and got beat up a bit in the winter cold.
      Perhaps another reader has an idea.

  21. what is the abundance of aratiles? thank you. we need your answer now. not being rude or something but we just have to submit this research tomorrow thank yo very much if you would.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      I am sorry,
      I am happy to help, but I dont understand your question.
      What are you looking for?

  22. I bought one for $13 on a 4″ pot. Very happy just hoping it will live here in Lancaster, CA. So far so good. It’s been a month and still alive. 🙂 I also bought Jamun tree (duhat).

  23. Hi Tom
    This has been a part of my hilarious childhood memories. Buts nowadays it’s hard to find one of it as it is almost cut down. A few day ago i found one by chance, and I take some of fruits. Would you mind show me any way to make candy or something else from that fruit? I want to eat that fruit whenever I want, so candy must be the most suitable :)). Thanks for your help

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey MN
      I hear from so many people that the Aratiles fruit is a a joyous part of their childhood memories.
      My daughter and I eat the fruit as soon as it is picked and it doesn’t really make it inside.
      I have not tried to make any candy or jam with the fruit but perhaps another reader can add some thoughts.


  24. Juliet Castillo

    Thanks for the very informative blog. I grow aratiles tree in my backyard coz I want my kids to get the same childhood fun it brought me and my childhood friends when we were young. It’s only now that I learned how healthy this fruie tree is!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Your very welcome
      Its interesting, I hear the same thing about childhood memories and the aratiles tree from so many people… much more than any other tree. Something special about this plant.

  25. ramamohanaraotanuku

    This is the only tree which attracted so many beautiful birds and amazing to see such beautiful birds at my home. I surprised the birds are in pairs and eating together the ripen fruits .

  26. Just received the latest email newsletter from top tropicals and looks like they now have the tree for sale. Good sign to see it becoming more available. Here is the link to the trees on their site: http://toptropicals.com/cgi-bin/store/store.cgi?item=2184

  27. In your article on Aratiles, you said it tolerated 0 degrees F. Did you mean 0 degrees C?

    I recently ordered one and just trying to figure out how much winter protection it needs.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks Matt!
      Great catch and your totally right. It was meant to be 0C (freezing).
      I have corrected the text.
      Thank you.

  28. My dog destroyed one of my aratiles tree. It was about to give fruits.

  29. any idea for the uses of its leaves and the process and how to get extract of it?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Earl
      I dont have any personal experience doing this but I understand it is very popular in some places such as the Philippines.
      Not sure about the potential toxicities or if that is even a concern.
      Perhaps another reader has some insight.

  30. hello sir good evening. i just want to ask why this tree never found in any markets.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Grace
      Good question.
      I think there may be a few reasons.
      Nurseries generally carry products that they know they can sell.. which means popular items.
      Nurseries also tend to carry trees that are optimized to do well in a particular environment. Aratiles can be tricky to grow in most parts of the US and therefore can result in customer dissatisfaction more than other trees.

  31. and also sir. is muntingia calabura can be use as a fertilizer for growing a plant?? because it is our research to know if muntingia calabura and mango peel can be use as a fertilizer for growing an allium cepa (onion).

  32. Hi doctor,
    Can I ask if how carbohydrates does the jamaican cherry have??
    Im kinda doing some academic research for my proposal..

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Nammy
      Thanks for the question.

      I am not sure many carbohydrates/sugars (calories) there are in a single jamaican cherry.

      To some degree, this number would depend on the size of the individual cherry… I have seen a range in size of the fruit based on growing conditions.

      However, since the fruit tastes very sweet, I would expect there to be more calories per volume compared to many other fruit.

      What is your research question referring to?


      • Hello Doctor,
        I’m Anna from Viet Nam. Nice to meet you and all here.
        I would like to grow and export the Muntingia calabura – Vietnames is Cây Trứng Cá. This plant grows naturally in Vietnam but most of people does not know ít value for health so I would like to know more and hopefully to find out the way to invest for business.

        So could you please tell me how to protect and maintain after harvesting?

        Pls note: my English is not good so hope you undersand what i mean with well sharing.

        Thanks you so much.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hi Ann

          Thank you for your note and question.

          It sounds like you are asking how to harvest/prepare the fruit so it will survive shipping.

          I am not sure how to do this. In my experience, this fruit has a very short shelf life no matter what you do. However, some people have made jams and jellies with the fruit which would be expected to last longer. But that is probably not what your customers are looking for.

          Perhaps another reader has some ideas for you.


  33. I live in Brisbane, Australia and I have a Panama Berry that has rapidly grown to about 3 metres in a pot. It’s hot and humid where I live with mild winters so the Panama Berry seems happy and has been fruiting prolifically. It has however, lost a lot of leaves recently and is not as lush as it was, I don’t think I was watering it enough and it did have a rust spot on its leaves for a while. I’m not sure how to care for it to increase its foliage cover again, perhaps some liquid seaweed fertisler and a covering of compost over the soil to stop it drying out so quickly.

    The fruit is really good but I’m also interested in researching more about the medicinal properties of its leaves and how to prepare a tea and what the benefits of that might be. It’s curious that the leaves of such a beautiful plant have antinociceptive properties.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Jodie
      Thanks for your great question.

      As you know, a tree might loose leaves for a lot of different reasons. The major ones are temperature stress and water stress. If it is hot and humid, then that is a great environment for this tree (they hate the cold). That would put water stress at the top of the list of possibilities. These plants really dont like bring bone dry. However, they also like well draining soil. So.. if it has been really hot in your area, then perhaps you tree is not getting the moisture it needs to support its leaves. Deep infrequent watering is better than frequent shallow watering.

      Gentile fertilizer is totally fine, but I suspect water is the main issue to address.

      There is a lot of unsupported reports about the value of this plants leaves as a cure and treatment for various ailments. Plants have been the source of many reputable medications and this plant may have ‘yet to be discovered’ medical value. However, I have not seen convincing scientific data about the safe and effective use of this plant yet. I wouldnt be surprised if there was some great use… Most modern medications have their origin in nature. However, from what I know now, I would say more research is needed.

      We should keep in mind that most modern medications have a rather narrow therapeutic range. This basically means that its easy to give too much which would make things worse (too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing). This is particularly problematic with directly-obtained plant based medications because the concentrations of the active chemical components may vary wildly from plant to plant and even from the same plant depending on the time of year.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top