In the Arboretum

by Alfredo Chiri

PINEAPPLE GUAVA - Feijoa selloviana var. 'Nazemetz' - Myrtaceae

Donated by: CRFG/Thompson and planted in 1982 (r.f.09)

Common names: Feijoa, Guavasteen, Goiabeira-do-matos, goiaba-serrana

The Pineapple guava is a native of southern Brazil, northern Argentina, western Paraguay and Uruguay where it grows wild in the mountains. It is cultivated in South American countries, New Zealand and California.

In Brazil this plant is known as Feijoa, and there it is a bushy evergreen shrub that grows from 3 to 20 feet in height with a spread as wide as it is high. The trunk, with pale gray bark, branches from the base.

The leaves are opposite, thick and leathery, and short-stalked. They are smooth and glossy olive-green on the upper surface with silvery-white hairs beneath. 

The flowers, borne singly or in clusters from the previous year¹s growth, have four fleshy oval petals that are white outside and purplish-red inside. From within comes a cluster of erect purple stamens with golden-yellow anthers. The flowers are sweet and edible, and are used in salads.

The fruit is slightly pear-shaped or egg-shaped, up to 3 inches long and 1.5 to 2 inches wide. The rind is tough, waxy and smooth, ranging in color from dark purple with faint white specks to yellow-pumpkin in color. The cavity inside is filled with an aromatic mass of membranous sacs filled with an orange-colored pulpy juice containing some 20 to 40 black seeds. The fruit emits a strong aroma even before it is fully ripe. The flavor is pineapple-like with papaya overtones, sub-acid to acid.

The Pineapple Guava is not a true guava and will tolerate much harsher climatic conditions that its namesake. The shrubs prefer a sunny location but will tolerate partial shade. Once established, the plants require occasional watering and little other care except for pruning to shape 
Two of the best varieties are Coolidge and Nazemet. Unlike some varieties, they don¹t require cross-pollination.

The Pineapple Guava likes a subtropical climate with a cool season. It can withstand winter temperatures of 15°F, some drought, and is humidity tolerant. Shelter is desirable as wind can cause fruit dropping and cause brittle branches to break. The plant tolerates partial shade, but fruiting will be reduced. The plant prefers a rich, organic, well-drained and acid soil, requiring adequate water for fruit production. Flowering occurs in mid-spring, and bees are the main pollinators. Good pollination produces many seeds, which in turn leads to larger and better-shaped fruit.

Plants are often grown from seed but do not reproduce true to type. A vegetative propagated plant starts to fruit in 2 years. Grafting onto seedling rootstocks is reported as not being very successful.