Marble berry, also known as Pililia condensata, is an African berry recognized by its iridescent blue color. While they might look like metallic blueberries, these berries aren’t edible—in fact, consuming one wouldn’t be appetizing since the berries are mostly filled with seeds rather than a juicy center. The real magic here is in their coloring, or the lack thereof. Marble berries don’t contain pigment at all. The metallic blue sheen is created by structural coloration, which “is caused by Bragg reflection of helicoidally stacked cellulose microfibrils that form multilayers in the cell walls of the epicarp.”1 This complex process is similar to the way that feathers on peacocks and wings on butterflies reflect color.
While the fruit certainly can’t be used for consumption, it can be used in skin care. According to Skin Script, which recently launched a Vineyard Grape Facial incorporating the berry, “The marble berry contains respectable levels of polyphenols and is protected from degradation using a novel chiral mechanism. It is a holistic antioxidant that reduces redness and irritation.” These high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants help protect the skin from aging and damage. The berry can be used with other ingredients to enhance its properties. For Skin Script’s facial, the berry is used with squalane, Thiotaine that’s made using ergothioneine (L), cyanidin-3-glucoside, and phenyl t-butylnitrone.
Silvia Vignolini, et al., “Pointillist Structural Color in Pollia Fruit,” Physical Sciences 109, no. 39 (2012): https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.1210105109.