Bunchosia armeniaca

Family : Malpighiaceae

Text © Pietro Puccio

 

English translation by Mario Beltramini

   

The species is native to Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela where it grows in the forests from the sea level up to about 2400 m of altitude.

The name of the genus comes from one of the name in Arabic, “buncho”, of the coffee plant ( Coffea arabica L.) due to the resemblance of the seeds; the name of the species refers to the shape and colour of the fruits, similar to those of the apricots ( Prunus armeniaca L. ).

Common names: monk’s plum, peanut butter tree, Peruvian plume (English); bunchosie abricot, bunchosie des Andes, cerise des Antilles (French); ameixa-brava, ameixa-do-Peru, caferana, cafezinho, ciruela, falso guaraná (Portuguese–Brazil); chico mamey, ciruela de fraile, ciruela silvestre, ciruela verde (Spanish).

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Native to tropical America, Bunchosia armeniaca is an evergreen that can be 20 m tall with 8-15 cm inflorescences © Giuseppe Mazza

The Bunchosia armeniaca (Cav.) DC. (1824) is a shrub or evergreen tree that may reach the 20 m of height in the old specimens in nature, but that in cultivation keeps much lower, with greyish bark. The leaves, on an about 1 cm long petiole, are opposite, simple, ovate-oblong with pointed apex and wavy margin, 10-20 cm long and 4-8 cm broad, coriaceous. Compact axillary racemose inflorescences, 8-15 cm long, bearing several hermaphroditic yellow flowers, on a 0,5-1 cm long pedicel provided of glandular tubercles, of about 1,5 cm of diametre, with pentapartite calyx, 5 unguiculate petals (petals with the long narroxw base similar to a stem), 5-6 mm long, with ovate lamina and fringed-toothed margin, and ten monadelphous stamina (stamina with filaments fused together and free anthers). The fruits are ovoid drupes of colour from orange to red when ripe, 2,5-4 cm long, containing 1-2 seeds immersed in a red-orange pulp.

It usually reproduces by seed, that does not have a long lasting germinability, in draining loam maintained humid, but without stagnations, at the temperature of 24-26 °C, with germination times of 1-2 months and first fructification starting from the second-third year of age.

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The 4 cm long fruits are edible and various parts of the plant have medicinal properties © Giuseppe Mazza

Ornamental as well as fruit species suitable to tropical, subtropical and marginally warm temperate climate zones, where it can bear exceptional and extremely short lasting drops of temperature up to about -2 °C, cultivated mainly in the family gardens for its fruits.

It requires full sun, or at the most a light shade, and draining soils rich of organic substance, preferably slightly acidic to slightly alkaline maintained humid. Where the climate does not allow the continuous permanence in open air, it can be cultivated in capacious containers to be sheltered during the coldest months in luminous ambient with minimum temperature levels not under the 15 °C. The waterings must be frequent in summer, more spaced in winter, without ever allowing the substratum to dry up completely and the fertilizations, in spring, done with a slow-release product.

The fruits, with creamy and sweet pulp with a taste reminding us that of the peanuts, are locally consumed fresh or utilized for jellies, jams and for aromatizing the dishes.

Parts of the plant are utilized in the traditional medicine for various pathologies, laboratory studies have evidenced the presence in the leaves extracts of bioactive compounds with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Synonyms: Malpighia armeniaca Cav. (1789); Bunchosia pilocarpa Rusby (1907); Bunchosia armeniaca f. parvifolia Nied. (1914); Bunchosia armeniaca f. systyla Nied. (1914).

 

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The photographic file of Giuseppe Mazza

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