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Invasive - South
Caution - Central, North

Eugenia uniflora Surinam Cherry

Edward F. Gilman


Surinam cherry is an excellent shrub for screens or hedges, with smooth, shiny, aromatic leaves which are bright red when young. This lends a reddish cast to a clipped hedge during the growing season. The small, thin leaves allow the plant to be sheared easily, and it is often used as a hedge. The plant remains dense all the way to the ground if the top of the hedge is clipped so it stays slightly narrower than the bottom. The small, fragrant, white flowers are followed by one-inch diameter, tasty, ribbed, red berries which are unusually high in vitamin C.

Figure 1. Eugenia uniflora Surinam cherry.
Figure 1.  Eugenia uniflora Surinam cherry.
Credit: Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS


General Information

Scientific name: Eugenia uniflora
Pronunciation: yoo-JEE-nee-uh yoo-nif-FLOR-uh
Common name(s): Surinam cherry
Family: Myrtaceae
Plant type: tree
USDA hardiness zones: 9B through 11 (Figure 2)
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: fruit; superior hedge; container or above-ground planter; trained as a standard; recommended for buffer strips around parking lots or for median strip plantings in the highway; border
Availablity: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range
Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.



Height: 8 to 20 feet
Spread: 6 to 15 feet
Plant habit: oval
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: fragrant
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches
Leaf color: purple or red
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: pleasant fragrance; spring flowering


Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: orange
Fruit characteristic: suited for human consumption; attracts

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: no thorns; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: reddish
Current year stem/twig thickness: thin


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: potentially invasive
Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Growing best in full sun and rapidly-draining soil, Surinam cherry has interesting tan-colored, thin, peeling bark and multiple stems, making it a good candidate for training into a small tree for use as a specimen tree. Unfortunately, it is seldom grown in this manner. The natural habit of the plant is an upright spreading form, similar to crape myrtle. Space from two to five feet apart to form a hedge or screen planting.

There are many Eugenia species with a range of mature heights and sizes.

Propagation is by seed or cuttings.

Pests and Diseases

Surinam cherry is bothered by scale and caterpillars.

No diseases are of major concern.

IFAS Assessment

Central, North


Caution - manage to prevent escape. May be recommended by IFAS. Will be reassessed in two years.

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IFAS Assessment



Invasive and not recommended by IFAS. Will be reassessed every 10 years. Specified and limited uses may be considered by the IFAS Invasive Plants Working Group

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Publication #FPS-202

Date: 5/26/2015

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About this Publication

This document is FPS-202, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman