From Neglected crops: 1492 from a different perspective
Botanical Garden of
Cordoba, FAO Plant Production and Protection Series No. 26
Feijoa (Feijoa sellowiana)
Botanical names: Feijoa sellowiana O. Berg, F. sellowiana var. rugosa Mattos
feijoa (throughout the world); English: feijoa (throughout the world),
pineapple guava (United States); Spanish: guayabo grande, guayabo chico
(Uruguay); Portuguese: goiaba serrana, goiaba verde, goiaba abacaxi
The feijoa is a subtropical fruit, known in southern Brazil.
northeastern Argentina, Uruguay and eastern Paraguay since pre-Hispanic
times. It has been known on the French Cote d'Azur since 1890, when it
was introduced through seeds from Argentina by Professor Edouard
André of the Versailles School of Horticulture. In 1990, it was
introduced into California, where its cultivation has spread. In
Uruguay, it has been grown commercially for 50 years. It is grown and
greatly valued in New Zealand. In Brazil, studies and the selection of
varieties have been carried out but it has never attained any
fresh fruit is widely consumed because of its characteristic flavour
and aroma, which are similar to pineapple. The fleshy petals of its
beautiful flowers are also appreciated. In addition, there is a wide
variety of industrialized products on the market in the form of paste,
jam. crystallized fruits. preserves in syrup and liqueur. The flesh can
be used in the soft drinks and ice-cream industries.
feijoa plant is a shrub or small tree, 3 to 5 m in height and very
branching. It has cylindrical trunks which are a reddish ash-grey in
colour, with small pieces peeling off from the bark. The leaves are
opposite, short petiolate, with lamina that are 2 to 5 cm long by 1 to
3 cm wide, coriaceous and oblong, with a shiny dark-green upper surface
and whitish lower surface. It has axillary uniflorous peduncles. The
flowers have four fleshy, oval petals which are white on the outside
and purple on the inside, with four persistent sepals. There are
numerous erect purple stamens. The fruit is oblong or spheroid, 5 to cm
long and 3 to 7 cm in diameter. There are smooth or rough varieties of
fruit which are green and yellow in colour. The feijoa flowers in
spring and the fruit ripens in autumn from March to May in the Southern
Hemisphere and from October to December in the Northern Hemisphere. The
early varieties ripen in March, while the late varieties do so from
April onwards in the Southern Hemisphere.
Ecology and phytogeography
species is widely distributed in the southern part of South America,
from lat. 26°S in southern Paraná in Brazil, to lat.
35°S in Uruguay, including northeastern Argentina and
southern-central Paraguay. In Brazil there are still wild populations
in forests (gallery) and deforested areas on sites at altitudes over
500 m, for which reason it is known as goiaba serrana or "mountain
guava". It frequently occurs in the states of Santa Catarina and Rio
Grande do Sul, in the cima da serra, upper northeastern coast and
southwestern serra regions and in Santana do Livramento. At these
sites, the summer is hot and rainy and the winter reaches temperatures
of 0 to 8°C, sometimes dropping to -4°C.
is a cross-pollinated plant and self-sterility is frequent. However,
there are self-fertile selections. When it has been propagated from
seed, it displays great genetic variability, both in the wild and in
gardens. Variability is shown in the form and habit of the plant and in
the characteristics of the fruit. In Uruguay, 11 cultivars are known,
prominent among these are: Botali, because of its size - the fruit
measures 6.5 x 3.8 cm - its pronounced flavour and late ripening: and
M-4, which is round, a beautiful reddish yellow colour and
extraordinarily sweet. In Brazil Santa Elisa and Campineira have been
bred; the first is of average size, 4.5 x 3.5 cm, smooth, sweet and
flavoursome while the second is ridged and also oblong. In California,
Coolidge, Superb, Choiseana, Triumph and Hehre are cultivated. In
France, André and Besson are of excellent quality.
are propagated from seed, layering, cutting and grafting. Propagation
from seed produces very heterogeneous plants. Consequently, this method
is used only in the production of rootstock and in small domestic
gardens. The seeds are recalcitrant and are therefore sown as soon as
they are collected, either in seed beds, using the conventional
technique, or directly into 30 x 20 cm polyethylene bags. They are
transplanted into the nursery at a distance of 1 x 0.40 m until they
reach a height of 60 to 80 cm, or are grafted with selected varieties.
Layering is a tedious method, used for the production of a small number
Propagation from semi-ligneous, leaf-bearing,
terminal shoots is very much to be recommended. They must be 10 to 15
cm long, treated with rooting hormones and placed in glass or plastic
frames saturated with moisture. They put out roots in 15 to 20 days.
The rooted cuttings are transferred into 30 x 20 cm polyethylene bags
in which they remain for one year until they reach a height of 60 to 80
cm, at which stage they are planted in gardens.
Grafting is by a
side grain on rootstock existing in the nursery or in polyethylene
bags. The technique is known as Veneer" grafting. When the young plants
from a grafted cutting reach 60 to 80 cm in height, they are
transplanted into the garden at a distance of 6 x 3 m or 6 x 2 m, which
will give 550 to 850 saplings per hectare. With an average production
of 1 000 fruits per adult tree and fruits weighing 30 to 60 g, these
densities produce yields ranging from 16 to 50 tonnes per hectare.
Feijoa fruit is attractive to fruit flies, mainly Anastrepha sp., particularly in places with high temperatures in South America, and Ceratitis c capitata in the Mediterranean and in high areas in South America.
fruit is fairly resistant to transportation. However, for the fresh
fruit market it requires special care from harvesting, packaging and
cold storage to transportation. In industry it does not require such
care, and even fruit that has fallen to the ground can be collected if
it is unblemished.
Prospects for improvement
green colour of the fruit of most of the known varieties is considered
a drawback from the marketing point of view because it is not very
attractive. For this reason, yellow and red cultivars are sought.
Partial or total self-sterility is another problem that affects
production. There is a need for sell:fertile selections and studies on
pollinating compatibility between varieties.
can be expanded through the subtropical regions which do not have harsh
winters, but this species needs to be better known, particularly its
characteristics and cultivation conditions. The availability of
germplasm may contribute to the expansion of this valuable fruit of
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