Purple-fruited pitanga - Antioxidant levels and flavors of mature fruits vary considerably among closely related cultivars

Griffis Jr., J. L.
Sams, S. E.
Manners, Malcom M.
McDonald, T. G.
Radovich, T. J.
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International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS)
Pitanga (Eugenia uniflora L.) has been produced on a small scale in Brazil for many years, and several food items such as juices, jellies, candies and drinks as well as cosmetic products such as shampoos, soaps and perfumes are available in the Brazilian marketplace. Some frozen fruit pulp has been exported to Europe. Seeds of red-fruited pitanga have been widely distributed throughout the tropics, and the seedling plants can be found in many countries, although the fruit is scarcely cultivated as a commercial fruit crop outside of Brazil. There is a small fruit production industry in Hawai’i, and the plants are popular ornamental hedge plants in southern Florida and many other places. Until recently, purple-fruited selections of pitanga have not been widely known or grown. It has been determined that purple-fruited pitanga has substantially higher levels of certain antioxidants than the common red-fruited types. Our chemical analysis by HPLC of freeze-dried purple pitanga pulp for anthocyanin pigments and carotenoids as well as analysis of mineral nutrients by ICP-MS show that concentrations of these materials are quite variable and highly dependent upon cultivar and fruit maturity. For example, lycopene concentrations varied by a factor of 10, as did lutein; quercetin varied by a factor of 4 among purple fruits harvested at the same times from sibling plants grown side-by-side in Hawai’i. Purple fruits harvested from selected mature pitanga siblings planted in both Hawai’i and Florida had rather widely divergent flavor profiles, and both fruit size and actual fruit color at maturity were also quite variable. Chemical analysis of purple fruits of unknown heritage may not be representative of levels of antioxidants found in purple fruits harvested from specific cultivars. Our selection and characterization of purple-fruited pitanga cultivars with both high levels of desirable antioxidants and pleasing flavor profiles is in progress.
Research Subject Categories::FORESTRY, AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES and LANDSCAPE PLANNING::Plant production
Griffis Jr., J.L., Sams, S.E., Manners, M.M., McDonald, T.G. and Radovich, T.J. (2012). PURPLE-FRUITED PITANGA - ANTIOXIDANT LEVELS AND FLAVORS OF MATURE FRUITS VARY CONSIDERABLY AMONG CLOSELY RELATED CULTIVARS. Acta Hortic. 959, 209-215 DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2012.959.26 https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2012.959.26