Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Guava (Psidium guajava)

The tropical guava (Psidium guajava) is a fast-growing fruit tree believed to have originated in Central America, but is now grown in tropical regions world-wide.
They can reach heights of 20-25 feet but can be maintained at around ten feet.  Guavas even fruit well in containers.  They are evergreen or deciduous, depending on the severity of the winter.  During hard freezes, there may be some die-back of the upper branches, but new growth will quickly replace the limbs lost.
Fragrant and showy flowers appear in early spring.
As the fruit develops, the flower calyx remains at the end of the fruit.  The guava fruit ripens in mid to late summer and the fruit itself is highly aromatic.
In Florida and other warm regions, the fruit is attacked by the Caribbean and Mediterranean  fruit fly.  This is a huge problem for commercial production but for home-growers the fruit can be bagged to protect it.
I 've experimented with different materials and I'm currently using little bags I made from a product called floating row cover. It allows light, water and air to reach the developing fruit, while keeping out insects. I've also used plastic sandwich baggies, but if they are exposed to direct sun the fruit will burn on that side, causing a large brown sunscald on the skin.

For plastic baggies, I slip the baggie over the green fruit, and lightly secure with a twist-tie.  When the fruit ripens, it loosens from the stem and drops into the baggie.  The weight pulls the baggie off the stem and it drops to the ground.  During guava season I simply go out each day and pick up the fallen fruits, free of fruit fly damage. The fabric bags don't slip from the stem as easily so I usually have to manually remove them when the fruit is ripe.
Mature fruits are oblong and 2 to 4 inches in length.  The flesh inside may be white, red, pink, or yellowish, depending on cultivar.  They can be eaten fresh or cooked.  Guava paste and jelly is also popular.  There are many small, hard seeds in each fruit that can be easily swallowed (or strained out when making jam or jelly).
There are various medicinal uses for the roots, bark, leaves, and immature fruits.
Young stems are four-sided, while older trunks and branches have an attractive smooth bark that flakes off in patches.

6 comments:

AaronVFT said...

Yumm! Guavas!! My whole family love this fruit!

Susan said...

Guava jam is my favorite. I didn't realized the fruit flies were a pest for these trees.

Ami said...

I just visited my friend's house this past weekend, and they have a strawberry guava tree full of the fruits! I love them! yours looks different from theirs, it must be different type of guava.

Grower Jim said...

Ami:
The Strawberry Guava is the subject of my next post. Stay tuned!

Rainforest Gardener said...

I love guavas so much. Have you heard anything about its hardiness in 9a? I've read that strawberry guava and yellow guava can grow here...

Grower Jim said...

Rainforest Gardener: I think you could definitely grow the strawberry guava. It's the hardiest of the three. Mine weren't damaged at all last winter with several consecutive nights in the mid-twenties.

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