Miracle fruit
3 mins read

Miracle fruit

Introduction

The Miracle Fruit, also known as Synsepalum dulcificum, is a fascinating plant species native to West Africa. This small, red berry has been a topic of interest for centuries, thanks to its extraordinary ability to alter the taste buds, making sour foods taste sweet. In this article, we will delve into the world of Miracle Fruit, exploring its etymology, description, taxonomy, cultivars, distribution, cultivation, production, uses, phytochemistry, flavor, toxicity, nutrition, and cultural significance.

Etymology

The name “Miracle Fruit” is derived from the fruit’s remarkable ability to change the perception of taste. The scientific name, Synsepalum dulcificum, is composed of two Latin words: “synsepalum,” meaning “with sepals,” and “dulcificum,” meaning “sweet-making.”

Description

The Miracle Fruit is a small, oval-shaped berry, typically 2-3 cm in length, with a bright red color and a smooth, glossy surface. The fruit has a single seed in the center, surrounded by a juicy pulp. The plant itself is a small shrub, growing up to 3 meters in height, with dark green, elliptical leaves.

Taxonomy and Cultivars

The Miracle Fruit belongs to the Sapindaceae family and is classified as Synsepalum dulcificum. There are several cultivars, including:

CultivarDescription
‘Dulcificum’The most common variety, known for its sweet-tasting fruit.
‘Rubrum’A variety with reddish-purple leaves and stems.
‘Albidum’A variety with white or pale yellow fruit.

Distribution and Habitat

The Miracle Fruit is native to West Africa, specifically in the tropical regions of Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. It grows in humid, shaded areas with well-drained soil.

Cultivation

The Miracle Fruit is relatively easy to cultivate, requiring:

  • Well-drained soil with a pH range of 5.5-6.5
  • Partial shade to full sun
  • Regular watering
  • Fertilization with balanced nutrients

Production and Uses

The Miracle Fruit is primarily used as a novelty food, with its unique taste-altering properties making it a popular ingredient in:

  • Culinary experiments
  • Food pairing events
  • Scientific research

Phytochemistry

The Miracle Fruit contains a unique protein called miraculin, which binds to the taste buds, temporarily altering the perception of sour tastes to sweet.

Flavor

The fruit itself has a mild, slightly sweet flavor, while the miraculin protein has a neutral taste.

Toxicity

The Miracle Fruit is generally considered safe for consumption, with no reported toxicity.

Nutrition

The Miracle Fruit is low in calories and rich in:

  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Fiber

Culture

The Miracle Fruit has cultural significance in West Africa, where it is used in traditional medicine and as a symbol of hospitality.

“The Miracle Fruit is a gift from nature, allowing us to experience the world in a new and exciting way.” – Dr. Emmanuel N. Okogbenin, Nigerian food scientist

In conclusion, the Miracle Fruit is a fascinating plant with a unique ability to alter our perception of taste. Its rich history, cultural significance, and potential uses make it a valuable addition to the world of food and science.

Tables

NutrientAmount (per 100g)
Energy64 kcal
Carbohydrates14.5g
Fiber2.5g
Protein1.2g
Vitamin C10mg
Potassium440mg
CultivarFruit ColorLeaf Color
‘Dulcificum’RedDark Green
‘Rubrum’Reddish-PurpleReddish-Purple
‘Albidum’White/Pale YellowDark Green