Family: Malpighiaceae

There are around 45 species in this genus of decorative, mostly evergreen shrubs, originating chiefly from tropical America. They are grown for their clusters of unusual flowers, with five, slender-stalked petals, in white, rose or red, and their attractive, spiny-toothed foliage. The fruits come in shades of orange, red or purple.


M. coccigera, holly malpighia, from the West Indies, is a lovely, ornamental shrub, to 1 m (3 ft) high, with shiny, holly-like leaves and a profusion of pink flowers, followed by edible red berries.

M. glabra, acerola or Barbados cherry, grows to 2 m (6 ft) high, with red or pink, star-shaped flowers, followed by edible red fruit, about the size of a cherry, high in vitamin C. The dark green leaves are smooth along the edges.


Except in frost-free climates, grow in an intermediate to warm conservatory or greenhouse, in pots of soil-based potting compost. Plants need maximum light but shade from direct sun, and normal watering in summer with much less in winter. Outdoors grow in an open, sunny position in well drained, humus-rich soil. Lightly prune in spring to maintain shape. Propagate from seed or cuttings.


Warmest parts of zone 10 and above.

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Malcolmia      Malus