Eugenia dombeyi

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Habit at Enchanting Floral Gardens, Maui, Hawaii.
© Forest & Kim Starr (USGS)

Local names:
English (Brazil eugenia,Brazil cherry), French (jambosier du Bresil,cerisier du Brésil,bois de nèfle), Portuguese (grumixameira,grumixama), Spanish (grumichama)

Eugenia dombeyi is a small, evergreen tree, 7-10(-20) m tall; crown narrow, compact; trunk short with grey bark, branches suberect.

Leaves opposite, ovate to obovate-elliptic, 10-12 cm x 5-6 cm, leathery, glossy, minutely pitted on both surfaces, margin recurved; petiole 3-4 mm long; leaves persist for 2 years, buds large with velvety scales, young shoots rosy.  

Flowers solitary, axillary, 2.5 cm wide, white, slightly fragrant; pedicle 3 cm; sepals 4, 8 mm long, green; petals 4, 15 mm long, white; stamens about 100, white. 

Fruit a globose to oblate berry, up to 3-5 cm in diameter, with persistent sepals at apex, hanging on long, slender pedicel, bright-red, dark purple to nearly black, or white, juicy, soft, sweet.

Seeds one to several, globose to angular, about 1 cm in diameter, hard, light brown to grey-green.

Three varieties have been distinguished, based on little more than fruit colour: var iocarpus Berg (= var. dombeyi), fruits deep violet; var erythrocarpus Berg, fruit red; var. leucocarpus Berg, fruits white, tallest trees, less common.


E. dombeyi requires a humid, tropical to subtropical climate.  Mature trees tolerate frost to -3 deg. C for short periods, but young shoots are affected.

Native range

Tree management

Little or no pruning is required until the tree ages, as the canopy remains compact. On light soils applications of organic matter as manure or mulch are recommended.  Light shade and protection from strong winds are preferred.

Seeds lose viability in about 6 weeks.

E. dombeyi requires a humid, tropical to subtropical climate.  Mature trees tolerate frost to -3 deg. C for short periods, but young shoots are affected.

The tree is commonly grown from seed, though propagation through cutting, air layering and grafting is easy.

 The fruit of E. dombeyi is appreciated more than that of several other, more widely grown Eugenia species.  The fruit has a thin and delicate skin, soft and melting pulp and a mild subacid taste.  The taste largely resides in the skin. It is eaten fresh when ripe, or made into jams, pies or preserves when half ripe.  However, the persistent sepals ('rabbit ears') and the modest flesh to seed ratio limit the appeal of the fruit. Per 100 g edible portion, the fruit contains: water 85 g, protein 0.6 g, fat 0.3 g, carbohydrates 13.4 g, fibre 0.6 g and ash 0.4 g.

Tannin or dyestuff: The bark and leaves contain large amounts of tannins, reportedly among highest found in plants (34% in the bark).

Medicine: An infusion of 10 g of leaves or bark in 300 ml water is used as an aromatic, astringent diuretic and as a treatment for rheumatism in Brazil.

Ornamental: Its dark, glossy leaves, reddish young shoots and shapely canopy make the tree an attractive ornamental.

Essential oil:  The bark and leaves contain 1.5% of essential oil.