Aberia. Prickly shrub very rare in Cuba and suitable for live fences. Its small, very acidic fruits, black when ripe and with a velvety shell, are edible, rich in vitamin C , phosphorus , calcium and pro-vitamin A. Its juice makes a pleasant wine with an excellent appearance. Its flowers are melliferous. There are specimens in various municipalities of Havana City and it is spread by others through the Fruit of Agriculture sub-program.


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  • 1 Taxonomy
    • 1 Scientific name
      • 1.1 Authors
    • 2 Basonym
    • 3 Synonymy
    • 4 Common name
  • 2 Description
  • 3 Origin and distribution
    • 1 In Cuba
  • 4 Climate
  • 5 Floor
  • 6 Season
  • 7 Uses as food
  • 8 References
  • 9 Source


Scientific name

  • Dovyalis hebecarpa (Gardner) Warb. [1] [2] [3] [4]


  • Warburg, Otto
  • Published in: Die Natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien 3 (6a): 44. 1893. [5]


  • Roumea hebecarpa Gardner [6]


  • Roumea hebecarpa Gardner [7] [8]
  • Aberia gardneri D. Clos [9]

Common name

  • Aberia, Japanese grape, ketambilla or kitembilla.



The shrub, or small tree, reaches no more than 15-20 feet (4.5-6 m) in height, but is long, thin, arched, with broad branches and can cover 30 feet (9 m) of terrain. It has sharp 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) long spines, are abundant on the trunk and lower branches. The leaves are alternate elliptical to ovate, pointed, 2 3/4 to 4 inches (7-10 cm) long, wavy edges, gray-green, finely velvety, with a pink hue and woolly petioles and fine texture.

Male, female and hermaphroditic flowers grow on separate trees . They are petalless, greenish-yellow, about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) wide and grouped in the axils of the leaves. The fruits, produced in great abundance, are globose, 1/2 to 1 inch (1.25-2.5 cm) wide. Its fine and slightly bitter skin turns from orange to dark purple on maturation and is covered with short, gray-green hair, velvety hairs are unpleasant in the mouth. The pulp is very juicy, very acidic, purple-red, accompanied by 9 to 12 hairy seeds approximately 1/4 inch (6 mm) long.

Origin and distribution

Fruit interior

The aberia is native to Ceylon . It was introduced to the United States by Dr. David Fairchild and was one of the few fruits in which he admitted that he never liked it very much. The first specimens to bear fruit in the Western Hemisphere appear to be those that grew in South Florida . PJ Wester brought seeds to the islands of the northern Philippines , where fruiting began in 1916 . From Florida too, the plant was introduced at the “Atkins Garden of Harvard University” in Cienfuegos , Cuba .

Garden seeds were sent to the “Hawaiian Sugar Planter’s Association” in 1920 , and to the Lancetilla experimental garden in Tela, Honduras , in 1927 . Florida seeds were supplied to the Experimental Stations, Mayaguez and Trujillo in Puerto Rico , where the plants were 16 feet (5 m) tall in 1929 and 1930 . The plants were widely distributed throughout the Hawaiian Islands and the use of the fruits was officially encouraged.

The pioneers of their planting in Florida kept the species and the fruits were used until the plants took up too much space. South Florida began to develop rapidly after World War II , most people did not have room for such an aggressive plant. An enthusiast maintained a small commercial parcel in West Palm Beach for juice production.

In 1935 , horticulturists in Israel imported Ceylon seeds, and the plants grew and fruited well in a variety of locations. Commercial exploitation had been planned, but was suspended during the Second World War due to the shortage of sugar for preservation.

In Cuba

Very rare in Cuba and suitable for living fences. Its small, very acidic fruits, black when ripe and with a velvety shell, are edible, rich in vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium and pro-vitamin A; with its juice a pleasant and excellent-looking wine is prepared. Its flowers are melliferous. There are specimens in various municipalities of Havana . [10]


In the Philippines , aberia flourishes from sea level at 2,600 feet (800 m). In Malaysia, it is found from almost sea level to 4,000 feet (1,200 m). It has never survived in Singapore . Fruiting is not consistent in Tela, Honduras. However, it does well when planted at the proper elevations in both dry and humid climates.


In Florida, the plant grows very vigorously and entirely on sand or limestone , but rich soil is best for maximum fruit production and plenty of water is appropriate during fruit development.


In Israel, the fruit ripens from winter to spring . In Florida, there are two harvests a year, spring and fall , but the fruits may be infested with larvae of the Caribbean fruit fly , Anastrepha suspensa , and not usable.

Food uses

In Florida, in the past, aberia was primarily used for jelly . Recipes developed in Hawaii include juice, flavored jelly, jam of Aberia and papaya , Aberia jam and guava and cream apple and Aberia.

In Israel , the fruit is valued above all as a source of jelly for export.


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