Bush cherry is botanically known as Maesobotrya Barteri or Red Maeso, a member of the Euphorbiaceae family, is the most widely distributed Maesobotrya species in Nigeria. It is a rainforest plant occurring in Sierra Leone, Southern Nigeria and Western Cameroon.
Bush cherries are small, round fruits with a small dimple at its stem end. The size of Bush cherries vary depending on the variety but they average about 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter. Its thin skin is a dark-red with a glossy sheen. The flesh is firm yet juicy and surrounds a single central seed. Bush cherries have a crisp texture and have a tart, tangy flavor.
The fruit of the bush cherry is small, typically about the size of a blueberry, and it varies in color from red to dark purple when ripe. The taste of bush cherries can be described as sweet-tart, similar to traditional cherries but with a more complex flavor profile. They are often used in jams, jellies, and desserts.
Bush cherries are well-suited for temperate climates and are prized for their ornamental value as well as their fruit. They require minimal care and can thrive in various soil types. It grows In the bush (wild), and you can grow them in your gardens too.
However, in southeast Nigeria, it has common names in various dialects such as ubene, ubene, uvune, ufene, or uvere. As a rainforest plant, it can also be found in regions of Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone.
Here are some facts about Bush Cherry (Ubene)
• The bush cherry fruit is a small, round fruit that typically measures about 1cm in diameter. Bush cherry, also known as dwarf cherry or sour cherry, is a small fruit tree. It is a compact and hardy plant that can grow up to 6 feet tall and wide, making it a great choice for small gardens or container growing.
• The fruit is typically dark red or purple when ripe and has a sweet, tangy flavor.
• It is sweet but maybe tart when not fully ripe.
• The fruit is high in antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, which are beneficial for heart health and can help prevent cancer.
• It reduces inflammation due to the presence of melatonin, it aids in boosting the immune system, promotes heart health, improves sleep quality, and helps with digestion.
• The bush cherry fruit is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and fiber.
• The bush cherry tree is a deciduous shrub that grows up to 2-4 meters in height and is native to parts of Europe and Asia. It is a seasonal fruit that bears fruit from April through June.
• You can use bush cherry fruit fresh or in making jams, jellies, and pies. When not fully ripe, it is sweet yet possibly acidic.
• The bush cherry fruit, in herbal medicine, is common in treating respiratory and digestive problems.
• The bush cherry tree is hardy and can tolerate a wide range of soil types and temperatures.
• The cherry fruit is a good source of energy and can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet.
• The fruit (particularly the colored variants) like other common berries turns the tongue and teeth blue.
• When unripe, it is green. Furthermore, it is ideal to let them ripen before plucking. Bush cherry does not ripen well off the tree.
• Bush cherries are smaller than other types of cherries. As a result, it draws more birds and squirrels.
• They can ripen quickly once picked from the tree. It is quite perishable, especially in hot weather.
• Bush cherries are not ideal for shipping due to their short shelf life unless they are preservatives inclusive.
• The fruit (the coloured varieties) stains the tongue and teeth blue.
• Some traditional medicine practitioners use various parts of the bush cherry plant to treat respiratory and digestive problems.
• This plant is often used in landscaping and gardening as ornamental plants. The plants have attractive flowers in spring, and the fruit can add color to the garden when it is ripe.
• This fruit is a valuable food source for many birds and small mammals, and the plants can provide cover and nesting sites for wildlife. The thick stem makes an excellent chewing stick.
• The roots of bush cherry plants are strong and can help stabilize soil on slopes and prevent erosion especially when they are in your garden or as ornaments.