Cherry tree – Eugenia mattosii

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Cherry tree is an evergreen, woody, fruitful and ornamental shrub, native to the Atlantic Forest in the states of Santa Catarina and Paraná. It presents a dense and rounded crown, being very branched, from the base. The trunk is dark brown in color and is vertically fissured. The leaves are simple, small, oblong, elliptical to spatulate, opposite, leathery, shiny, red when young and green when mature, which causes a coppery effect on the bush in its growth phase. The inflorescences appear in spring and are axillary, of the summit type, gathering groups of 2 to 8 flowers each. The flowers are hermaphroditic, white in color, with long and numerous stamens and lightly scented. They produce abundant nectar and pollen, and are very attractive to native bees and other pollinators.

The fruits form in the summer, are berry-like, small, spherical, red, with a persistent calyx, fleshy pulp and sweet taste, containing one or two seeds per fruit. Its aroma and flavor are reminiscent of pitanga (uniflora eugenics) and Rio Grande cherry (involucrate eugenics). It can be consumed in natura or as refreshing juices, jellies and ice creams. In addition, the fruit of the dwarf cherry tree attracts many species of birds. In general, both flowers and fruits appear more intensely when the plant is grown in the south of the country, that is, in regions with more marked seasons.

In the garden, the dwarf cherry tree is a real wild card, replacing with excellence exotic shrubs such as the Buxinho (boxwood sempervirens) and the Ligustrine (Ligustrum sinense), in addition to the differential of producing edible fruits. It can be used alone, in groups, rows or together with other plants, especially those that contrast with its fine texture and coppery green tones. It tolerates pruning very well and has dense and resistant foliage, being suitable for topiaries, borders and formal and informal hedges. So we can, for example, demarcate the entrance to the garden or even go around a wall. In addition, it is an endangered species with an important ecological role, attracting pollinators and feeding the avifauna, making its use even more important in Brazilian landscaping. It is rare in cultivation, bringing originality to projects. It can also be planted in pots or planters and thus used to adorn sunny patios and balconies. Its small leaves and fissured and woody stem make it a species of choice for the art of bonsai. It is a species of easy cultivation, slow growth and simple maintenance, which involves cleaning pruning, training and fertilization.

It should be grown in full sun, in fertile, drainable soils rich in organic matter. In the garden, after well established, the ideal is that the watering is supplementary. It is resistant to frost (-3ºC) and short periods of drought. However, it is able to adapt to different climatic conditions, being able to be cultivated from sea level to high altitudes (1000 m), from north to south of Brazil. The ideal is to fertilize it in the beginning of spring and during the summer, with organic fertilizers, such as bone meal and well-cured poultry manure, or mineral fertilizers, such as NPK formulas suitable for fruit trees, always following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Remember to water the plant before fertilizing to avoid root burns. Dwarf cherry can be easily multiplied by seeds or cuttings from young branches. For planting, carry out sowing immediately after harvesting the fruits, since their seeds are recalcitrant and quickly lose their germination power. Germination is uneven and occurs between 40 and 90 days. Pinch the tips of the young seedlings, stimulating their densification. Dwarf cherry trees start fruiting about 2 or 3 years after planting.

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