Eugenia uniflora

Surinam cherry

Nonnative to FloridaFISC Category 1 Invasive

Species Overview

Native to: Brazil

Surinam cherry was introduced into south Florida prior to 1931. It has been widely planted as an ornamental shrub/tree as well as for its edible fruits. Surinam cherry has escaped cultivation and forms dense thickets in natural areas and it extremely difficult to control.

Species Characteristics

  • Family: Myrtaceae
  • Habit: evergreen, multibranched shrub or small tree to 10 m (30 ft) tall, usually shrub size in Florida; young stems often with red hairs and dark red new foliage
  • Leaves: opposite, simple, short petioled, oval to lance shaped, 2.5-8 cm (1-3 in) long, shiny dark green above, paler below; margins entire
  • Flowers: white, fragrant, about 13 mm (0.5 in) across, with many stamens; occurring solitary or in clusters of 2 or 3 at leaf axils; blooms and produces fruit in spring and occasionally in the fall
  • Fruit: fleshy, juicy, orange-red berry to 4 cm (1.5 in) wide, depressed-globose, conspicuously 8-ribbed
  • Seeds: fruits contain 1-3 seeds
  • Distribution in Florida: central and south


The seeds of Surinam cherry are readily dispersed by birds and mammals, as the fruits are highly edible. It invades hammocks in the central and southern peninsula of Florida, where it forms dense thickets that displace native plants and prevents their regeneration.

Surinam cherry is not recommended by UF/IFAS. The UF/IFAS Assessment lists it as invasive in south Florida and a species of caution in central and north Florida. It is listed as a Category l invasive species by FLEPPC due to its ability to invade and displace native plant communities.

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

Regular monitoring and removal of plants can prevent the spread and establishment of Surinam cherry. Programs to educate homeowners on proper plant identification will also reduce the spread of this species. Native alternatives to Surinam cherry for use in home landscaping or natural areas include Simpson stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans), myrsine (Rapanea punctata) and Jamaican caper (Capparis cynophallophora).


Refrain from planting Surinam cherry and remove seeds if possible. Hand-pull seedlings. 


Mechanical control is not an effective management strategy for Surinam cherry due to its ability to re-sprout.


There are no known biological control agents for Surinam cherry.

  • Basal bark: for plants up to 0.5-inch diameter, 10% Garlon 4
  • Cut stump: 50% Garlon 3A or 10% Garlon 4
  • **Reapplication will be neccessary

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