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Pitanga

Specifications

Scientific name: Eugenia uniflora L.
Popular names: Pitanga, pitanguinha, pitanga-preta, pitanga-ananã, pitanga-vermelha, pitanga-do-mato.
Botanical family: Myrtaceae
Geographical distribution and habitat: it is native from central Brazil to northern Argentina, although it is currently very well distributed both nationally and in various parts of the world. In Brazil, it is characteristic of the Semi-deciduous Seasonal Forest and Restingas, from 5 meters in the coast of the South Region, to 1,650 meters of altitude in the state of São Paulo.
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF PITANGUEIRA
It is a dense tree or shrub, 2 to 15 m high, with a rounded crown, up to 6 m in diameter. It has a well developed root system.
Flowers: are hermaphrodite, solitary, or fascinated, in number from 4 to 8, occur in the axillaries of the bracts on the base of the young branches or the year.
Fruit: it is berry type, globular, depressed in the poles, with 7 to 10 grooves, longitudinally, measuring 1.75 cm in diameter, 1.40 cm high, weighs between 3 and 4.8 g, red when ripe; the pulp and skin are reddish, both edible, sweet, but with some acidity, make up 74 to 88% of the weight of the fruit.
Climate and soil: it can be found in temperatures between 8.2 to 27.3 ° C, with rainfall evenly distributed in the South and periodic in other regions. The average annual rainfall regime can occur from 770 mm in the State of Rio de Janeiro, to 2,500 mm in Pernambuco. It adapts to tropical and subtropical climates and tolerates weak frosts. It occurs in humid and alluvial soils.
USES OF PITANGA
It is generally consumed naturally, its taste is sweet, acid, pungent and with a very characteristic aroma. It is used to make liqueurs, flavored cachaças, jellies and wines. However, the industrial production of pulps, juices and popsicles prepared from pitanga is increasing.
The fruit is perishable and must be carefully picked and packed in small boxes, and should be kept refrigerated for its perishability, but retains good nutritional value and has good acceptance.
It is also indicated for home orchards, for collection and immediate use, besides the uses already commented.
The Pernambuco Agricultural Research Company maintains a large collection of pitangas, with about 120 types, and has selected better varieties, with pulp yield above 85%, total soluble solids of about 8 to 9% and acidity of 1.7% citric acid. The fruit has medicinal value, as well as the leaves.
CURIOSITIES ABOUT PITANGA
Besides its qualities as a fruit, the pitangueira is decorative. Its tortuous stem and the intensely branched branches, with small leaves, attract attention and are much appreciated in residential gardens. It is recommended in plantations destined to the recovery of degraded areas, especially around dams by birding.
Photos: Prof. Dr. Luiz Carlos Donadio

NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF PITANGA

Vitamins – It has 220 to 650 IU of vitamin A; 30 mcg of thiamine (B1); 60 mcg of riboflavin (B2); 0,3 mg of niacin (B3); and 14 to 22 mg or more of ascorbic acid.
Minerals – phosphorus – 11 mg; calcium – 9-18 mg; iron – 0.2 mg.
Source: DONADIO, L.C.; ZACCARO, R.P. Nutritional value of fruits.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Although still little exploited commercially in Brazil, the pitangueira gathers in its small reddish fruits countless qualities that place them as the most appreciated among its consumers. Preferably used in the elaboration of juices, the pitanga is also industrialized in the form of ice creams, jellies, concentrated juice and frozen pulp. With an attractive color, exotic flavor and aroma, the pitanga stands out for its high content of vitamin A and low caloric value.
Vitamin A, also called retinol, exercises protective action on the skin and mucous membranes, in addition to playing an essential role in the function of the retina and the functional capacity of the reproductive organs.
The levels of phenolic and carotenoid compounds found in the pulp of the pitanga fruit are quite significant; these being in higher values in the purple pitanga than in the traditional red pitanga. These compounds have antioxidant properties, which may be related to the retardation of cell aging.
Dr. ILDO ELIEZER LEDERMAN, researcher of IPA, PE.