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Morton, J. 1987. Brazilian Guava. p. 365–367. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.


Brazilian Guava

Psidium guineense Sw.

Psidium molle Bertol

Psidium schiedeanum Berg.

Psidium aracá Raddi




This guava relative has been the subject of much confusion, beginning with its scientific name, Psidium guineense Sw., based on the botanist Swartz' belief that it originated on the Guinea Coast of Africa. For a long time it was considered distinct from the guisaro, P. molle Bertol (syn. P. schiedeanum Berg.), but now these names as well as P. aracá Raddi, are treated as synonyms of P. guineense, and all the corresponding colloquial names should be applied to this one confirmed species.

In Brazil the popular names are aracá, aracá do campo, or aracahy; in the Guianas it is called wild guava or wilde guave. Among other regional names are: guabillo, huayava, guayaba brava and sacha guayaba (Peru); allpa guayaba (Ecuador); guayaba de sabana, guayaba sabanera and guayaba agria (Venezuela); guayaba, or guayaba acida, guayaba hedionda, chamach, chamacch, pataj and pichippul (Guatemala); guisaro, or cas extranjero (Costa Rica); guayabita, guayaba arraijan, and guayabita de sabana (Panama); guayabillo (El Salvador). The name, guayaba agria, seems to be the only one employed in Mexico. In California it is called either Brazilian or Castilian guava.

Description

The Brazilian guava is a relatively slow-growing shrub 3 to 10 ft (1-3 m) tall; sometimes a tree to 23 ft (7 m); with grayish bark, hairy young shoots and cylindrical or slightly flattened branchlets. The evergreen, grayish leaves, 1 1/3 to 5 1/2 in (3.5-14 cm) long and 1 to 3 1/8 (2.5-8 cm wide), are stiff, oblong, elliptic, ovate or obovate, sometimes finely toothed; scantily hairy on the upperside but coated beneath with pale or rusty hairs and distinctly dotted with glands. Flowers, borne singly or in clusters of 3 in the leaf axils, are white and have 150 to 200 prominent stamens. 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 flavor. It contains numerous small, hard seeds and is quite firm even when fully ripe.

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, diarrhea 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.


Related Species

The Pará guava has been known as Britoa acida Berg. Calvacante now shows this binomial as a synonym of Psidium acutangulum DC. and gives the Brazilian vernacular name as aracá-pera. Cruz (1965) calls it araca piranga, aracandiva, aracanduba and goiabarana. Le Cointe shows it as araca comum do Pará and he describes P. aracá Raddi as a separate species. In Bolivia, P. acutangulum is known as guabira; in Peru, as ampi yacu, puca yacu, guayava del agua.

The shrub or tree ranges in height from 26 to 40 ft (8-12 m). Its branchlets are quadrangular and winged near the leaf base. New growth is finely hairy. The leaves, with very short petioles, are elliptical, 4 to 5 1/2 in (10-14 cm) long, 1 1/2 to 2 3/8 in (4-6 cm) wide, rounded at the base, pointed at the apex. The long-stalked, white, 5-petalled flowers, with more than 300 stamens, are borne singly or in 2's or 3's in the leaf axils. The fruit is round, pear-shaped or ellipsoid, 1 1/4 to 3 3/16 in (3-8 cm) wide, pale-yellow, with yellowish-white, very acid but well-flavored pulp containing a few hard, triangular seeds. The crop ripens in the spring.

The tree occurs wild and cultivated at low and medium elevations throughout Amazonia and from Peru to Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and the Guianas. Some specimens have been grown in southern Florida in the past under the name P. aracá. The fruit is eaten mixed with honey or made into acid drinks or preserves.

Of recent interest as a possible new crop is Eugenia stipitata McVaugh, treated by Calvacante as a variable species, but separated by McVaugh (Flora of Peru, Vol. XIII, Pt. 4, No. 2, 1958) into 2 subspecies, as follows:

E. stipitata subsp. stipitata McVaugh, called pichi in Peru, araca-boi in Brazil, is a tree to 40 or 50 ft (12-15 m) tall, with short-petioled, opposite, broad-elliptic leaves, pointed at the apex, 3 to 7 in (7.5-18 cm) long and 1 1/3 to 3 1/4 in (3.4-8.25 cm) wide, with indented veins on the upper surface, densely hairy on the underside, faintly dotted with oil glands on both sides. The flowers, in compound, axillary racemes, are white, hairy, 3/4 in (2 cm) wide, with numerous prominent stamens.

According to horticulturists and Calvacante, the fruit is somewhat like a small guava; very aromatic, round to oblate, less than 2 oz (56 g) in the wild, up to 4 3/4 in (12 cm) wide under cultivation and weighing as much as 14 1/2 oz (420 g) or even 28 oz (800 g). The skin is thin and delicate; the pulp soft, juicy, very acid, containing 8 to 10 irregular-oblong or kidney-shaped seeds to 1 in (2.5 cm) long and 5/8 in (1.5 cm) wide. Ascorbic acid content has been reported as 38 to 40 mg per 100 g of edible portion. The fruiting season is February to May around Belem, Brazil. There may be 4 crops a year in Peru and Ecuador. The tree is native and abundant in the wild in Amazonian regions of Peru, Ecuador and Brazil. The fruit is eaten by the Indians and the tree is being cultivated experimentally in Peru and Ecuador and a collection of 360 seedlings has been established at Manaus. Seeds germinate in 4-12 months.

Seedlings grow slowly at first, are transplanted in about 6 months. They begin to fruit 18 months later. Yields of 12.7 tons per acre (28 T/ha) have been obtained in Peru. The tree is subject to leafspot and the fruit is prone to attack by fruit flies. The fruit loses flavor when cooked; is quick-boiled for jam. A Peruvian grower is exporting the frozen pulp to Europe.

Subspecies sororia, called rupina caspi in Peru, is a shrub or small tree to 10 ft (3 m) high with elliptic leaves 3 1/2 to 5 in (9-12.5 cm) long, 1 to 1 3/4 in (2.5-4.5 cm) wide with barely visible veins; minutely hairy beneath or hairless when fully mature; and having a few dark dots. The flowers are 1/2 in (1.25 cm) wide with 75 stamens. The fruit is oblate, 5/8 in (1.6 cm) wide, velvety, acid, with numerous kidney-shaped seeds, 1/8 to a little over 1/4 in (3-7 mm) long. McVaugh shows as native to Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia.