Thursday, September 23, 2010

Jaboticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora)

Jaboticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora) is a fascinating fruit native to Brazil.  The flowers and fruit form directly on the trunk and branches of the tree.
It's possible for fruit to form down the trunk all the way to the ground.
The white blooms appear sporadically throughout the year, or nearly continuously, depending on the individual plant and growing conditions. They are sweetly fragrant and detectable several feet away from the plant.
The one-inch diameter purple-black fruits are ready to harvest three weeks after pollination.  Fruits have a thick, tart skin and a sweet, juicy pulp with a complex grape-like flavor.  They can be eaten fresh or made into jams, jellies, or wine.
Excess fruits can be frozen whole for later use.  Freezing also helps break down the thick skin, making it more palatable.  The skin of fresh fruit is high in tannins, and whether or not to eat the skin seems to be a personal preference.  If large quantities are consumed, it is recommended to discard skins.  Biting or squeezing the fruit will cause the skin to split and eject the pulp into your mouth.  In Brazil, a decoction of sun-dried skins is used to treat asthma, diarrhea, and dysentery.
Birds, raccoons, and opossums also like Jaboticabas, so pick fruit as soon as it is ripe.
This plant is slow-growing but will start to bear fruit when it is about 8 foot tall with a trunk diameter of about 3.5 to 4 inches.  It may take 10 years or more to reach this size.  In Florida, the tree will eventually mature at about 15 feet.  They naturally grow with multiple trunks, which should be allowed to remain for maximum fruit production.  When young, Jaboticabas have an almost shrubby appearance, although this can vary from tree to tree.
As they mature, and the trunk diameter increases, the tree becomes much more productive. 
Myrciaria cauliflora is fairly cold-hardy and will tolerate temperatures in the mid-lower 20° F range for short periods.  They grow best in full sun to part shade.  The root system is shallow and trees will benefit from supplemental irrigation during dry periods.  Trees are self-pollinating but fruit production will be increased with cross-pollination.
The new growth is reddish in color,
and the bark of the trunk and larger branches peels off in chunks as it grows.
This fruit would certainly be much more popular if not for the slow growth habit, but it's definitely worth the wait!

9 comments:

Sunita said...

Great photos and information, Jim. I love the contrast between the white blooms and glossy purple fruit. Very eye-catching!

AaronVFT said...

The fluffy white flowers are so adorable! The shiny berries looks tempting and toxic.

Rainforest Gardener said...

Nice pictures and great info for when I eventually acquire one. Thanks for yet another useful plant profile!

sonia a. mascaro said...

Great post about Jaboticabas. I have in my garden two Jaboticabas tree (In Portuguese we say Jaboticabeiras).

Thank you for follow my blog!
Have a nice weekend.

Missy said...

Amazing tree. We have a few lilly pillies here that flower and fruit on the trunk.
Also Jim, you may or may not be interested but I'm inviting you to join in a "game". Join in if you wish. Check it out at missysgarden.blogspot.com/2010/09/gardening-game.html

Jonathan Byron said...

I'm trying jaboticaba in Jacksonville ... mine made it through 2 winters, but is still small and needs a shovel of compost to green it up. Maybe in another 5 or 10 years I will pick from it.

Grower Jim said...

Jonathan,
You've already done the most important thing: planted it! Lots of people say they don't want to wait 10 years for fruit, but they've been saying that for 15 years. If they would have just planted one when they first saw a tree, they would have already been eating their own fruit for several years now!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what that tree was, nought some land with loads of exotics and had no idea thanks

Grower Jim said...

Lucky you! That's a great prize to find already growing on your property!

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