IFAS Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service
The miracle fruit, Synsepalum dulcificum, is one of the
strangest tropical fruits grown by Rare Fruit Council members and other
hobbyists. This small, evergreen shrub, native to tropical West Africa, grows
slowly to a height of 12 to 15 feet. The most unusual thing about the fruit
is the effect it has on one's taste after it has been consumed.
The 3/4-inch, bright scarlet berries are borne throughout the year,
beginning when the plants are about four years of age. Most of the fruit
is taken up by a single large seed, but the yellowish pulp around it can
be nibbled off and then for the next hour or so, anything one eats that
is sour has a sweet flavor, as if sugar has been added.
Miracle fruits like rich, well-drained soils that are acid in pH.
On alkaline soils they often are grown in large containers with generous
amounts of peat moss for sustained success in fruiting. Plants should be
located where they get as much light as possible and should be fertilized
every two to three months with a good quality balanced fertilizer. They like
to be watered once or twice a week, or more often if they are in very sandy
When plants are small they are subject to damage by frost, so they
should be container-grown and kept indoors or moved to protected locations
when frost or freeze threatens. Older plants may sustain some leaf and minor
twig damage, but can sustain temperatures down into the mid-20's (°F)
without being killed.
The interest in miracle fruit is such that almost anyone who has
a plant always finds eager volunteers to test its sweetening properties.
The fruits themselves are of interest as a commercial source of artificial
sweetener; however, large quantities of berries are needed to collect a
substantial amount of the sweetener.
When propagating miracle fruit, sow the seeds in a rich,
well-drained medium, just barely covered, and water lightly every other
day. Seeds generally come up in about eight to ten weeks, but grow
slowly the first year, often being only two to three inches tall at the
end of almost one year of growth. It really takes three to four years
before the plants reach a height of more
than fifteen to twenty inches, and then they start to grow more
There are few insects or disease pests associated with the
fruit, and since it is so easily containerized, almost anyone can grow
plant whether they have an outside planting area or not. In fact, many
northern seed companies regularly offer miracle fruit seed for sale
throughout the United States so that people may grow it indoors.
Our additional Miracle Fruit Information:
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© 2000 BGCII Page posted March 2004