The Jamaican Cherry

The Jamaican Cherry has red, sometimes yellow skin, is yellow inside and has two to three small oval seeds. It is slightly sweet, slightly tart and juicy, and is used to make juices, or washed and eaten just picked from the tree. The cherries are low in carbohydrates and are packed with vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.

Lone garden cherry on a tree Jamaica
Jamaican Cherry

The Jamaican Cherry is native to the Caribbean, southern Mexico, Central America and south to Peru and Bolivia. But it has also been found as far away as India and the Philippines. The Jamaican Cherry is known by several names, including Panama berry, Singapore cherry, and manzanitas.

Garden Cherry Jamaica
Jamaican Cherry
Cherry pits Jamaica

Flesh of a garden cherry Jamaica

The Jamaican Cherry is also a flowering tree. The flowers can be used as an antiseptic and also to relieve headaches and colds.

I took this flower, which I’ve magnified several times, around November. Since then, there has been two crops of fruit – cherries are in season again.

Flower of a cherry tree, Jamaica
Cherry flower

The trees are beautiful in season with specks of red peeking out from among verdant green leaves. The fruit can be picked individually or shaken from the tree, which typically grows no more than 6 or 7 feet tall. And since the trees are not very large, they can be found in the backyard gardens of most Jamaican families.

Cherry Drink, Jamaica
Jamaican Cherry Drink

During the season, it’s possible to get dozens of cherries – more than enough to juice. I usually freeze them and use them sparingly until the next crop. For color, I add some to my homemade fruit juices.

The Jamaican cherry is in season now so if you’re visiting or planning to visit soon, you should try the fresh juice. Ask at your hotel or guest house if there’s some on the menu, or if they can get some. I know some of the smaller establishments will gladly oblige.

The juice is quite easy to make. Put cherries in a blender, add enough water to cover the fruit and blend. (You can also add a bit more water if the juice is too thick.) Strain, add a little nutmeg, lime or ginger, and sugar to taste. Serve over ice or chill before serving.


This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.


41 comments on “The Jamaican Cherry

  1. Do you have to beat the birds to the cherries. We had a big cherry tree in Boulder but the robins would usually clean it off before we could get to it.

  2. Hi Marcia, it must be a great time to visit Jamaica right now with the glorious mangoes and heavenly cherries in season.

  3. It looks so very similar to the cherries we get here in India. Though our cherries have just a single seed inside. They are one of my favorites, so very delicious!
    PS – Marcia, I am hosting a contest giveaway on my blog, do check it out 🙂

  4. YUM! Your last picture with the juice and cherries is great! I\’m not sure I\’ve ever had Jamaican cherries while in the Philippines but would love to try one. I wonder if they taste the same as the ones here in the US. Their color looks more like the sweeter Rainier cherries. How wonderful that those flowers are decorative and medicinal.

  5. I love this featureabout our cherries. I love the drink and the taste is so exceptionally refreshing on a hot day . The images are beautiful!!!!Wow!

  6. Beautiful photos and interesting information, Marcia. I’m not sure that I should have read this before breakfast though – I’m craving cherries now!

  7. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment, Steve. I’m glad you like the photos. Unfortunately, it’s hard to do an accurate comparison as I’ve never had fresh Maraschino cherries. These have a little tartness whereas Maraschinos are uniformly sweet from the sugar that’s added during the preservation process. We have Maraschinos here as well — I have a bottle in the fridge right now.

  8. Glad you like the photo. I got it when I did a tour of an eco-tourism site I’ll be writing about later. I was offered something to drink and it was cherry juice. I couldn’t resist. I told the property owner that I had a post ready to go on cherries so she kindly set up the shot.
    I’ve only ever had Maraschinos in the US and they’re preserved so it’s difficult to know how they really taste. I’ll have to look for Rainier cherries next time I’m there to see if they are similar in taste.

  9. They could be. From what I’ve read, they did make it to India. You’re right, they are very delicious.
    Thanks for the info on your contest. I’ll check it out.

  10. Yum! Your photos are making my mouth water for some delicious cherries! My grandmother used to have a cherry tree in her front yard and I loved to visit when she was busy freezing the cherries and making homemade jam. Great memory- thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  11. What caught my eye was how red it was and perfectly shaped. I love cherries but the price remains high in these parts. 😉

  12. Oh, shame. I just noticed another crop on the tree this afternoon. They’re green now but they might be ready by the time we see each other. Will see if I can bring you some.

  13. Oh, sorry, Michele! For sure, it’s quite convenient to have a tree in the backyard. This evening, I noticed that tree’s full of cherries again — they’re green now but will be ready for eating soon.

  14. That’s the next best way of eating them, Sophie, from the tree. I passed the tree earlier and it’s full of green ones. Can’t wait for the ripe ones.

  15. I am so amazed that Jamaica even has it’s own cherry. But that yellow meat inside looks sweet. I wonder if it taste anything like the Rainer bing cherries (the only ones I eat). I have to explore more.

  16. It’s not indigenous to Jamaica but we claim it. There’s a lot of it here. I was picking some just last weekend.
    Birds love them – there were lots of half eaten ones on the tree!

  17. I’ll have to do some research and see if we can get them here. I have always wanted a cherry tree.

    We have our lilly pilly’s here which are our native version of a cherry. I like them a lot but they are vey different to the commercial cherry.

    The fruit of your cherry looks pithy and fleshy, like our lilly pilly’s.

    I’ve never thought of having cherry juice.

  18. You should try making cherry juice with your lilly polly, Narelle. I just put it in the blender with water and strain to remove any large pieces of the seed that didn’t get blended.

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