Fruiting the Miracle Berry (Synsepalum dulcificum)
By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin
|Miracle Berry Plant|
|Miracle Berry Fruit|
Synsepalaum dulcificum, is known as the Miracle Berry or Miracle Fruit. It originates from West Africa and has the extraordinary ability to change the way your taste buds perceive sour and sweet. The effect comes from a compound known as miraculin. Simply put, the miraculin temporarily blocks the receptors that perceive sour and it also binds protons on the tongue and activates the sweet receptors. The effect is only temporary and once the protein is washed away with saliva then the taste buds go back to normal. The effect can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Here is how we recommend tasting the Miracle Berry.
Put the whole berry in your mouth. Do not bite into the berry because there is a seed inside. Work the skin and pulp of the berry and coat your mouth and tongue with the taste. Savor the sweetness. In 3-4 minutes start tasting foods that are typically sour, like lemons and sour pickle. If you bite into a tomato, it will be the sweetest tomato you have ever eaten. If you sip on dry red wine, it will be a sweet wine instead of dry. The effect lasts from 20 minutes to several hours so plan accordingly.
One of the most important cultural aspects is the soil mix. Over many years, we discovered that Miracle Berry needs an acid soil mixture for successful growth. We recommend half sphagnum peat moss and half perlite.
Miracle Berry is sensitive to high amounts of fertilizers and can easily get burned if you apply too much. This shows up as browning on the edges of the leaves. Moderate amounts of fertilizer can be used once a month. Use a dilute solution (1/4 to 1/8 of the label requirement) and only fertilize the plant when the soil is already moist. Never fertilize Miracle Berry when the soil is dry.
Water when the soil is visibly dry but do not bring to a severe wilt. Also, we recommend using distilled water, rain water, or filtered, non-chlorinated water so any chemicals or chlorine in your tap water will not harm the plant.
Although, Miracle Berry is self-pollinating, if grown inside, we recommend manually brushing your hand over the flowers to ensure pollination and a good crop of berries. Do this when the small inconspicuous flowers are open and preferably during the sunny part of the day.
Exposure Full or partial sun is required. However, if given full sun, your Miracle Berry plant will produce a crop of berries twice a year or more. If given partial sun, berries will be sparse and only produce once a year.
Miracle Berry is an upright grower and will accommodate its height and size according to the pot it’s grown in. A 14” pot can easily grow into a 5’ tall tree. The larger the plant, the more berries it will produce. Once established, Miracle Berry will continue to produce fruit throughout the year, if grown in full sun.
Cutting vs. Seed
The main difference between seed grown and cutting grown is the length of time until fruit appears. Cutting grown plants will produce berries much sooner than seed grown.
Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in any home, anywhere. By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin, (Storey Publishing, 2010)