Muntingia calabura, the sole species in the genus Muntingia, is a flowering plant native to southern Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and western South America south to Peru and Bolivia. Common names include (English) Jamaican cherry, Panama berry, Singapore cherry, Strawberry tree; (Spanish) bolaina yamanaza, cacaniqua, capulín blanco, nigua, niguito, memizo or memiso; and (Filipino) aratilis, aratiles, manzanitas.
It is a small tree 7-12 meters tall with tiered and slightly drooping branches. It has serrated leaves 2.5-15 cm long and 1-6.5 cm wide. The flowers are small and white and gives rise to 1-1.5 cm light red fruit. The fruit is edible, sweet and juicy, and contains a large number of tiny (0.5 mm) yellow seeds.
It is a pioneer species that thrives in poor soil, able to tolerate acidic and alkaline conditions and drought. Its seeds are dispersed by birds and fruit bats. It is cultivated for its edible fruit, and has become naturalised in some other parts of the tropics, including southeastern Asia. As a pioneer plant, it could help condition the soil and make it habitable to other plants. However, it might also be considered as an invasive species since it might out-compete indigenous plants.
In Mexico, the fruits are eaten and sold in markets. The fruits can be processed into jams and the leaves can be used for making tea. In Brazil, the trees are planted along river banks. The fruits falling from the tree attract fish that are then caught. In the Philippines the fruits are usually eaten mostly by children although it is not sold in markets.
The timber from the Jamaican cherry is reddish-brown. It is compact, durable and lightweight and can be used for carpentry. It could also be used as firewood. The bark can be used to produce ropes. Due to its ability to grow in poor soil and its effective propagation by means of bats and birds, it could be used for reforestation projects.