In the Fullerton Arboretum
By Alfredo Chiri
PITOMBA Eugenia luschnathiana Myrtaceae
Donated by: CRFG and planted in 2003 (r.f.-09)
Common names: Pitomba, Uvalha do Campo, ubaid do Campo, and Uvalheira, and Cherry Pitomba.
The Pitomba, a little-known species native to Brazil, is a medium sized, slow growing shrub that grows to 20 feet in height and 15 feet in width. The plant has dense foliage. The young leathery leaves have on their underside bronze colored hairs. Mature leaves are dark green above and a lighter green beneath. The trunk is mottled brown and tan and resembles the guava.
The four-petalled white one inch flowers are borne singly in the leaf axils. Flowers appear in late spring or early summer, and in some warmer areas
occasionally there is more than one blooming season per year.
The fruit is broadly obovate, about 1 to 1 1/4 inches long, with the apex containing 4 or 5 green sepals, each about 1/2 inch long. The skin is bright orange yellow. The soft, juicy golden yellow pulp is apricot-like in texture, aromatic and slightly acid. Attached to one side of the central cavity are several ir-regular, angular seeds, which are tan colored and 3/8² to 5/8² in diameter,
The shrub grows well in a wide variety of soils, and mature plants can withstand temperatures as low as 26°F before sustaining damage. When the plant has reached a height of at least three feet, is well fertilized with a mixture of 20-20-20 and heavily watered, it will begin to bear fruit. Pitombas have fairly good salt tolerance, and they can be planted where they receive some salt spray and will still grow well. Pitombas are easily propagated from seeds, but there is a wide
variation in size of the fruit produced by seedlings. Superior varieties producing sweeter, larger and better quality fruit can be veneer-grafted. Seedlings will take, in most cases, three to four years before they reach bearing age. The Pitomba makes an excellent hedge. Their rate of growth is about two feet per year, making them container specimens, and they fruit quite well in seven-to-ten gallon size containers.
The Pitomba was at first considered a promising fruit plant for the USA but has made no progress at all. There is a possibility that, in areas close to the Pacific Ocean, the plant will flourish into a new industry. The fruit can be eaten fresh, and also used for jelly, preserves, and carbonated beverages.