Guisaro or Brazilian Guava – Psidium guineense

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This is a tree that is not well known or widely enough cultivated given its good taste and very useful characteristics. A small bush or tree to about 3 mtrs that can easily be kept to hedgerow size, by pruning.  It is obviously closely related to the common guava with the same basic structure. The seeds in this case are not a problem; they are small and unobtrusive. There is no strong aromatic taste/odour as occurs in the close guava relatives. The taste appeals to the majority of people; sweet/sour with a fruity taste described by some as like a pineapple jam, hence its other name of pineapple guava, which is confusing as the Feijoa has the same common name.

One of the things that make this fruit stand out is that it doesn’t suffer from fruit fly infestation; you can let the fruit fall onto the ground when ripe and eat them in the day. I have seen the occasional fruit with a tear in the skin infected. It must be the skin that prevents the infection. The fruit-spotting bug does sting the fruit but the result seems to be a small hard lump that doesn’t affect the edibility of it. The skin is good to eat even when the fruit is quite firm. Like some of the other Myrtaceae trees it is quite hardy; grows from the Amazon to Argentina and withstands temperatures to minus 2.2 deg Celsius. It’s drought hardy (can’t kill them in a pot with neglect) and I think that they will stand water logging as well. Some of the literature says that they won’t do well in light sand, but our place is sand and they grow well (loads of mulch might be the reason). They fruit readily in pots at about 600 mm high. It is remarkably slow to germinate from seed, taking 3 months at times to start, but then every seed seems to grow. Very hardy useful plant! There is quite a bit of information available on the internet and below is some information from Fruits of Warm Climates by Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.

Distribution   The most wide-ranging guava relative, P. guineense occurs naturally from northern Argentina and Peru to southern Mexico, and in Trinidad, Martinique, Jamaica and Cuba, at medium elevations. It is cultivated to a limited extent in Martinique, Guadeloupe, the Dominican Republic and southern California. Trials in Florida have not been encouraging. At Agartala in Tripura, northeast India, this plant has become thoroughly naturalized and runs wild.

Cultivars      While no named cultivars have been reported, this species has been crossed with the common guava and the hybrids are dwarf, hardy and bear heavy crops.

Soil            The plant will not develop satisfactorily on light sandy soil.

Food Uses    This guava is suitable for baking and preserving. It makes a distinctive jelly which some consider superior to common guava jelly.

Other Uses   The wood is strong and used for tool handles, beams, planks and agricultural instruments. The bark, rich in tannin, is used for curing hides.

Medicinal Uses    In the interior of Brazil, a decoction of the bark or of the roots is employed to treat urinary diseases, diarrhoea and dysentery. In Costa Rica, it is said to reduce varicose veins and ulcers on the legs. A leaf decoction is taken to relieve colds and bronchitis. (Willie says that guava leaves are commonly used in Indonesia for diarrhoea and are very effective)

The description of the fruit is quite a bit different from what we have in Australia; it is possible that ours is a hybrid. “The fruit, round or pear-shaped, is from 1/8 to 1 in (1-2.5 cm) wide, with yellow skin, thick, pale-yellowish flesh surrounding the white central pulp, and of acid, resinous, slightly strawberry-like flavour. It contains numerous small, hard seeds and is quite firm even when fully ripe.” Quite different to what I’ve seen and tasted – what we have is a very good fruit.

Recommended…..and the club has some small plants.