Muntingia calabura

The Muntingiaceae are a small plant family in the order of Malvenartigen ( Malvales ). The eponymous genus Muntingia honors the Dutch botanist Abraham Munting ( 1626-1683 ). This family now includes three monotypic genera with only three species. It is a purely Neotropical family.


They are small to medium-sized trees or shrubs. The whole plant is hairy. The alternate and distichous arranged leaves are stalked and easy. The leaf margin is serrated. Stipules are present.

The flowers are usually solitary and sometimes in Muntingia to few together. The hermaphrodite, radial symmetry flowers are usually five (four to seven ) trifoliate. There is an annular disc provided. The most five (four to seven) sepals are fused. The most five (four to seven) free, nailed petals are white, pink or yellow and have irregular edges. There are (rare to eleven ) usually 15 to 100 fertile stamens present; they are grouped into bundles or free. It may be formed a Androphor. Five or six to seven carpels are fused into an ovary. Each ovary compartment contains 25 to 50 ovules. The style ends in a simple or five to siebenlappigen scar. Pollination is by insects ( entomophily ) of the order Hymenoptera ( Hymenoptera).

They are fleshy berries, which contain 25 to 100 enveloped by pulp seeds.

Systematics and distribution

The genera were formerly incorporated in the subfamily Neotessmannioideae in the Tiliaceae.

The family comes only in the Neotropics before of course. This family contains three monotypic genera, just three types:

  • Dicraspidia Standlschmaus. With the only kind: Donnell - smithii Dicraspidia Standlschmaus. Ovary half inferior. The area ranges from Honduras to Colombia.
  • Muntingia calabura L., sometimes known as some other plant species also Jamaica Cherry: ovary upper constant. This species is widespread in Latin America. In many tropical and subtropical countries, it is a neophyte. It occurs sometimes as a pioneer plant on after deforestation.
  • Neotessmannia uniflora burret: ovary inferior. She is known only from eastern Peru.


From Muntingia calabura the fruits are edible; it is used worldwide in the tropics as an ornamental plant.


Muntingia calabura:

Unripe and ripe fruit

Branch with flower and leaves


  • Description of the family of Muntingiaceae in APWebsite (English )
  • Description of the family of Muntingiaceae at DELTA. (English )
  • C. Bayer: Muntingiaceae in Klaus Kubitzki: The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants, Volume V. Flowering Plants, Dicotyledons, Malvales, Capparales and Non- betalain Caryophyllales, Springer Verlag, Berlin, 2002, pp. 315-319.