Malpighia emarginata is a tropical fruit-bearing shrub or small tree in the familyMalpighiaceae. Common names include acerola (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐse̞ˈɾɔ̞lɐ]),Barbados cherry, West Indian cherry and wild crepemyrtle. Acerola is native to South America, Southern Mexico and Central America, but is now also being grown as far north as Texas and in subtropical areas of Asia, like India. It is known for being extremely rich in vitamin C, almost as much as camu camu, although it also contains vitamins A, B1, B2 and B3 as well as carotenoids and bioflavonoids which provide important nutritive value and have antioxidant uses. The vitamin C produced by the fruit is better absorbed by human organisms than synthetic ascorbic acid.
The fruit is a bright red drupe 1–3 cm (0.39–1.2 in) in diameter with a mass of 3–5 g (0.11–0.18 oz). Drupes are in pairs or groups of three, and each contains three triangular seeds. The drupes are juicy and very high in vitamin C(3-46g kg-1) and other nutrients. They are divided into three obscure lobes and are usually acid to subacid, giving them a sour taste, but may be sweet if grown well.While the nutrient composition depends on the species and environmental conditions, the most common components of acerola and their concentration range are as follow: proteins (2.1-8g), lipids (2.3-8g), carbohydrates (35.7-78g), calcium (117 mg), phosphor (171 mg), iron (2.4 mg), pyridoxine (87 mg), riboflavin (0.7 mg), thiamine (0.2 mg), water (906-920g) and dietic fibre (30g)