Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dwarf Barbados Cherry (Malphigia glabra)

I'm always looking to bring more wildlife into our lives,  birds, bees and butterflies.

One of my first plantings was Dwarf Barbados Cherry, with which we've ringed the front porch. It's evergreen here most years, is a skipper butterfly host plant, and has sweet flowers in spring and fall which attract hairstreak and blue butterflies.

The flowers develop into multiple crops of red berries each year, which the cardinals, mockingbirds, Bewick's wrens and Eastern Phoebes devour. Our strictly-indoor cats appreciate this last attribute since they monitor birdlife from the kitchen windows overlooking the porch and plantings.

Dwarf Barbados Cherry is a southern plant, native to the West Indies and Central and South America. Some sources say cold hardy in zone 8b, some Zone 9b. It will take cold down to the mid-20's before losing leaves. Makes an airy small shrub to around four feet. And it's adaptable. Sun to part-shade. Drought-tolerant, soil tolerant as long as drainage is good. And, drumroll please...Deer Resistant!

Footnote July 2010:  Our dwarf barbados cherries survived temperatures in the low teens last winter.  The foliage dropped but I pruned them back a third in the spring after danger of frost was over.  Added compost and the plants are flourishing.  

Copyright Kathleen Scott 2009-2010.  Prior written permission required for use of material.


  1. I've been admiring your beautiful dwarf Barbados Cherry. We don't have this strain in CA and they are really lovely. I have some of the taller variety and the fruits are wonderful. Have you ever tried the fruit from these? I would love to know what you think!

  2. Hi W, thanks for your comment. I love the bushes, the way they bloom and fruit for months at a time, drawing birds in close to our windows. I might feel a little guilty taking their dinner...


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