Friday, 13 April 2012

The Value Of Consuming Acerola - Health

Acerola is commonly known as Barbados cherry, West Indian Cherry, Semeruco, Cereza, or Cerisier. The Acerola fruits contain a soaring amount of vitamin C (up to 4000mg per 100gm of fresh fruit). Green fruits have twice the vitamin C than mature fruits. Fruits attain maturity in less than 25 days.Origin: This is believed to have its origin from the Yucatan and distributed through Mexico, Central America to Venezuela, Surinam, Columbia, and Caribbean Islands. Acerola is now successfully grown in sub-tropical areas throughout the world like India, South America, Southeast Asia and some of the largest plantings are in Brazil.

Description: Acerola grows as a large, relatively fast growing bushy shrub or small tree of not more than 15 ft. height and generally found in dry, thorn woodlands as a deciduous tree. Acerola has poor cold tolerance and young plants do not survive temperature below 300 F. Trees have shallow roots and are sensitive to high winds but they can be uprighted and recover. Branches are brittle and easily break. However, it is drought tolerant, and will adopt a deciduous habit, adaptable to pot culture and can be pruned to shape.

Salient features: Acerola leaves are dark to light green, glossy when mature and has minute hairs, which can be irritating to handle. Acerola's have small pink to white flowers that contain five petals. Most of the flowers drop down from the tree. Fowering can take place throughout the year and primarily occurs in old growth. Fruits are round and cherry -like but have 3 lobes. The fruits are bright red having thin skin and are easily bruised. The pulp is juicy, acid to sub-acid and sometimes even sweet with delicate flavor of apple. The fruits contain high vitamin C.

Some of the typical characteristics of Acerola are enunciated below:

The Acerola plant prefers full sun for fruit development. It gives rise to the problem of winter protection in harsh climatic condition. Shaded Acerola trees also grow fruits but in reduced quantity and the plant, itself become spindly. Due to its smaller root system, the Acerola can be interplanted with other crops more closely.

Acerola grows in soil, limestone, marl and other heavy soil as long as it drains well since water logging of roots will cause plant death. The soil pH has to be within 6.5 to 7.5 brackets since acidic soils will not promote vigorous growth. For higher productivity, proper working with the soil and planned plantation is essential.

Irrigation for Acerola plants has to be carefully handled. Acerola perform best with 1000 to 2000 mm of water. However, Acerola is drought tolerant but to get better flowering limited irrigation is necessary. Under controlled and regular irrigation, Acerola can flower throughout the year. Acerola needs balanced fertilization schedule and once in a year lining of soil. It adapts well with heavy pruning especially in tropical climate. Small bush of about 5ft high produce maximum fruits.

In areas where frost can happen, Acerola needs proper frost protection. Propagation of Acerola can be by seed, cutting, grafting, and other standard methods. Acerola is susceptible to root knot nematode and affected by various other pets for which proper pest control is necessary.

The fruit deteriorates rapidly once removed from the tree. The fruit undergoes rapid fermentation and becomes unusable in 3 to 5 days. The best use is direct eating, jam, jelly, syrup; juices are very popular in Brazil. Fruits are also used in baby food as a supplement of vitamin C, as an ice cream, in many home recipes.

Acerola has tremendous commercial potentialities and plantings of Acerola are increasing worldwide because of increased use of Acerola as a natural source of Vitamin C.

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