Sunday, August 22, 2010

Strawberry Guava

My apologies if you stumble across this blog in hopes to find a recipe for a Strawberry Guava Pie. This is about the plant with that name, not two different ingredients.
It is a well known fact that the Southeast, at least my little neck of the woods, has gotten it's fair amount of rain....and then some!! In the past two weeks I have recorded 13+ inches of rain in my yard. This would be very welcomed news if my part of the neighborhood block was not at the bottom of the bowl. ALL the rain water collects out in back. And of course it is right in front of my exotic tropical fruit collection. The weeds, mud and water had gotten so bad back there I avoided it like the plaque. Well, I had had enough, so I took my weedeater and attempted to wade through the La Brea Tar Pits. The mud and water and three foot weeds were just a flying, I am sure had anybody been around, it would be all over Youtube right now. Anyway, while I was back there, I noticed my Strawberry Guava (Psidium cattleianum) was finally starting to ripen. The fruits are smaller this year, I guess I should have thinned them a little.....it sure wasn't from lack of water!!

Strawberry Guava, also known as Cattley Guava, is Dark red and is actually distantly related to Allspice and Eucalyptus trees.
It is a fairly slow growing tree that will reach heights of 6-14 feet high. It has slender, smooth, brown bark on the stems and branches The leaves are evergreen glossy, and somewhat leathery.
The flavor of the fruit is slightly acid and said to have a Strawberry like taste. Personally I don't taste it, though I do enjoy the flavor of the fruit.
The Strawberry Guava is believed to be native to the lowlands of eastern Brazil, especially near the coast. It is cultivated to a limited extent in other areas of South America and Central America and in the West Indies, Bermuda, the Bahamas, southern and central Florida and southern California.
It propagates very easily from seed. As a matter of fact, if you have any friends from Hawaii, DON'T mention that you grow this plant. It is the worst pest in Hawaii's rain forests. The feral pigs that inhabit the islands love the fruit. The seeds pass through their digestive tracts unharmed and are often deposited in soil disturbed by the pigs. Dense wild plantings can suppress growth and establishment of native species, and support high populations of crop damaging fruit flies. It is on Hawaii's invasive species list. It is also considered a weed tree on Norfolk Island and has escaped into the wild on Jamaica.
The Strawberry Guava is hardier than the common Guava (Psidium guajava) another of it's distant relatives, and can survive temperatures as low as 22 degrees. It can succeed wherever Citrus is grown without any problem.
This plant will grow in soils that would not support any other fruit tree. It likes lots of water, especially when fruiting, but it is also very drought tolerant.
It is a long lived tree. In 1884, a commercial planting of about 3,000 trees was established at La Mesa, California, it was still producing 50 years later. No word on if it still producing today.
The Strawberry Guava is usually reported as disease and pest free. The Caribbean fruit fly attacks the fruits in southern Florida and wherever else this pest exists. In India, birds compete with humans for the ripe fruits. The fruit is very perishable and will only last 3-4 days once picked, at room temperature.
You can eat the fruit right off the tree. It is made into tart fillings, Jams, Jellies, Sherbet and in some places made into a punch.
There is a Yellow version that I don't have yet. I found this picture online of what that looks like.

I hope to be able to get one soon.
I have a Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana), but this again is another whole different plant, distantly related, but still different.
  

And yes, I actually do have a regular Guava also. Maybe one day, I will be able to make a mixed Guava fruit cocktail.
Happy Growing!
Darren

11 comments:

  1. I have been thinking about getting this plant to grow here in Tucson. Thanks for the info.:)

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  2. Strawberry guava, introduced to Hawaii in 1825, is considered an invasive species in Hawaii. It replaces the native under-story in the forests. For 20 years they have been looking for a biological control for this plant in Hawaii. In the summer of 2008 the US Forest Service and Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry have submitted a proposal to release a Brazilian insect - a scale, Tectococcus ovatus. I don't think approval has been given to release this scale yet and it is a controversial subject among Hawaii residents.

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  3. Hey Darren, send a little bit of that rain out here to the Plains, will ya?

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  4. While your busy sending rain to the guy above me, send some out here to Israel, we have had almost no rain since the beginning of the rainy season in September! The seasons got confused, it is still summer here! Just bought a Strawberry Guava tree and am very excited, thanks for your helpful info and pictures.

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  5. We just moved to Southern California and discovered that we have one of these in our garden. We like it so much, we just ordered two more trees. The kids enjoy eating the fruit straight off the tree (a bit tart for me) and we all love it in a simple jam/puree form. The color it produces when you boil the skins with the flesh is GLORIOUS! I have been thinking of making a cocktail with the puree and some St. Germain liquor, maybe a splash of bubbly.

    I liked your image so much, I used it to make a label for my jars!

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  6. In our garden in Costa Mesa, California, there are few of these trees. Today only i tested the red ripe fruits...its flesh is like guava but its tart..i enjoyed eating though..

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  7. One person's weed is another person's snack. I live on Maui and I absolutely love strawberry guavas. While they are very bad for the forests on the windward side of the island, they taste amazing. They are my favorite fruit. I live on the leeward side, so I don't get them very often. But when they're in season, it's worth the drive. I have seen strawberry guava jams for sale, but you don't want to confuse them with the guava strawberry jams, which are a blend of strawberries and guavas.

    I hope there are places where strawberry guavas can be grown where they won't harm the environment, because the fruit is amazing.

    Cheers,
    John

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  8. Hi, very nice post. I have a strawberry guava in my garden at Junin, Argentina, one of the countries of origin of this fruit tree, look:

    http://www.huertasurbanas.com/2013/03/01/tasting-the-fruits-of-araza-strawberry-guava-psidium-cattleianum

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  10. I have the yellow strawberry guava version and personally, I think they taste like a pear, not a strawberry. Thanks for the information though :)

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    1. The yellow strawberry guava (some call it a lemon guava) has a completely different taste, and you are right it's more pear-ish in flavor, but smoother in texture, and not as tart as the red one can be if it's not dead ripe. The fruit on the yellow one gets bigger (ping pong ball size) and the growth habit is more tree like (weeping sometimes) where the strawberry version tends to naturally grow more like a bush (although it can be trained to grow more like a tree. The yellow form seems weaker - I have to keep mine staked or they fall over and they have a shorter fruiting season. I have several of each growing in my yard. I prefer the taste of the yellow one but I get way more fruit from the red ones.

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