It has been known by several common names including Chilean Guava, murta, murtilla and Tas Myrtus Berry. In New Zealand it is being erroneously sold and marketed as the ‘NZ Cranberry’. It has a taste of a combination of strawberry, pineapple and apple. The plant is a native to Chile and is a small evergreen shrub with small leathery leaves. It grows to a size of about 1.7m high and 1.5m wide and tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. Once established the plants do not mind drought conditions but watering during establishment is a good idea. A good thick mulch/compost is also appreciated. Some texts list the plant as being frost sensitive, others do not. Slow growing evergreen bush forming a compact shrub of approximately 1.5m. Self-Fertile. This attractive fruiting plant has small dark green leaves with new growth tinged with red. Grow it as a low growing hedge, in a container or as a garden specimen. In summer this plant smothers itself with fluffy white flowers. Flower in summer and fruit is ripe February to March. This attractive small fruit is red in colour. Allow fruit to become lighter in colour before harvesting to ensure the best taste. The taste can only be compared to a tiny sherbet bomb – sweet and tart. Best eaten on its own to really appreciate its aromatic flavour. Great also as a jam with punch, or a sauce topping for ice cream. The Ugni is frost hardy and will grow in any soil providing there is moisture. This plant, unlike most other fruiting plants, grows and fruits well in partial shade. Prune after fruiting to maintain shape.
Propagation Seedling tubes with plants 25cm tall are the best to plant. 1.5m (in row spacing), 2–3m between rows to allow access.
Yields 1kg of fruit per plant in Year 3. A 1kg increase per plant each year from Year 3 onwards.
Sheryl: I recently attended the Elleslie International Flower Show in Christchurch and tasted these small fruit. Well worth putting a couple in. Good article in Louis Glowinski’s book The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia
STFC newsletter Apr May 2010