Cotton Candy Tree aka Strawberry Tree aka Panama Berry Tree

Cotton Candy Tree, Strawberry Tree, Panama Berry tree, Cake batter tree??? There is a lot of confusion about the name for this tree and admittedly I made up the last one, but my wife demands that they taste like cake batter.  To avoid the confusion, the genus is Mutingia and calabura is the sole species(the plant on this page) of the genus.

Pros of Cotton Candy Tree

  • Mutingia calabura, January 2016, 2 years old, Cotton Candy Tree Panama Berry Tree Free Food Forest PermacultureHeavy and delicious fruit set.
  • Fertilizer and water input completely unnecessary, this plant is genetically prepared to tackle inhospitable environments(aka pioneer tree) and subsequently prepare them for future plant species
  • Will produce considerable shade within 3 years
  • Chickens seem to love the berries and will make you laugh while jumping up at the ripe red berries.
  • Did I mention it tastes like cotton candy/strawberries/cake batter?

Cotton Candy Tree Uses

Edible fruit in large flushes daily with about a month break between flushes of growth.  Broken limbs can make good firewood.

As a pioneer plant, this plant will grow in conditions that would usually kill most plants.  From a permaculture perspective this could help you establish an environment conducive to growing plants and begin to accumulate the biomass needed for a remote food forest.

Research on its medicinal qualities is promising, with a leaf extract leading to reduced marker enzymes in rats with an induced heart attack to anti cancer properties of the roots.  In addition, research has been done on antimicrobial and antinociceptive (pain blocking) functions of extracts as well.  All of this of course needs more research to draw a definitive conclusion, but the results so far are promising.

Personal Experience

Our cotton candy tree has had explosive growth and has tripled its size in under a year (characteristic of a pioneer tree).  Our kids and chickens check this tree daily for new fruit which is prized like candy (cotton candy that is)

It has pretty white flowers which are self pollinated by bees and eventually turn into a small red 1 cm fruit.

Propagation of Panama Berry Trees


Seeds – There are thousands of seeds within each fruit, they are too small to be noticeable while eating, but this also makes them difficult to separate and grow.  I have also purchased the seeds on the internet at some point.

Air layering would be the only other method I might try.

Future Plans

I might plant a second one day but I believe the single specimen we currently have will provide more fruit that we can eat within two years . . . chicken/duck food anyone?

Cons of Cotton Candy Trees

  • Will snap easily in the wind
  • Difficult to share . . .


This is a great tree for the north side(large, don’t want to shade out smaller trees) of any permaculture food forest..  5 out ot 5 stars for the lack of care needed and soon to be great shade tree.  Explore other fruit trees for a food forest.

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