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Muntingia calabura - Strawberry tree


Native to:



Central America, parts of northern and central South America.

Lowland areas from sea level to 1000 m of elevation. 9 meter tall tree.

Muntingia calabura - Strawberry tree

Ecological value:

Thrives in poor soils and can tolerate acidic and alkaline conditions and drought, but doesn’t grow on saline conditions. Rapid growing pioneer. Useful species for restoration projects. Provides shelter and food for around 60 species of birds and mammals. Attracts honey bees.

Material uses:

The wood is soft and used for general carpentry, local construction, cooking utensils, small boxes and casks. Valued in paper-making. Used as fuelwood. Tough silk-like fiber from bark is for making ropes and baskets.

Edible uses:

Red berries that can be eaten by humans but mostly consumed by native birds and bats. The berries can be ground into jam and the leaves are used in tea.

Medicinal use:

Leaves treat headaches, prostate problems, reduce gastric ulcers. Bark an antiseptic. Flowers an antiseptic used to reduce swelling. Fruits used to treat respiratory problems and diarrhea.

Other details:

Naturalized in Southeast Asia and other tropical parts of the world. Sometimes grows as an ornamental or a shade tree. Can become invasive. Withstands air pollution. Soft wood is valued as fuel and lights fast. Tree planted along rivers in Brazil as fruit are used to capture fish.


Amy Feng/Christine Facella


“Muntingia Calabura - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d. Accessed November 14, 2023.
Facciola. S., ‘Cornucopia II’, Kampong Publications, California, 1998
“Muntingia Calabura L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online.
Image source: Prenn.

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