Fruit Facts from
California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
© Copyright 1996, California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
Psidium guajava L.
Common Names: Guava, guyava, kuawa.
Related species: Brazilian guava, Guisaro (Psidium guinense Sw.), Cattley Guava, Strawberry Guava (P. cattleianum Sabine), Costa Rican Guava (P. friedrichsthalianum Ndz.), Para Guava (P. acutangulum DC.), Rumberry, Guavaberry (Myrciaria floribunda Berg.).
The place of origin of the guava is uncertain, but it is believed to be
an area extending from southern Mexico into or through Central America.
It has been spread by man, birds and other animals to all warm areas of
tropical America and in the West Indies (since 1526).
The tropical guava is best adapted to the warm climate of Florida and
Hawaii, although it can be grown in coastal Southern California, and
with some protection, selected areas north to Mendocino County. Guavas
actually thrive in both humid and dry climates, but can survive only a
few degrees of frost. The tree will recover from a brief exposure to
29° F but may be completely defoliated. Young trees are
particularly sensitive to cold spells. Older trees, killed to the
ground, have sent up new shoots which fruited 2 years later. Guavas can
take considerable neglect, withstanding temporary waterlogging and very
high temperatures. They tend to bear fruit better in areas with a
definite winter or cooler season. The adaptability of the guava makes
it a serious weed tree in some tropical areas. The smaller guava
cultivars can make an excellent container specimen.
Guavas are evergreen, shallow-rooted shrubs or small trees to 33 ft,
with spreading branches. Growth in California is rarely over 10 - 12
feet. The bark is smooth, mottled green or reddish brown and peels off
in thin flakes to reveal the attractive "bony" aspect of its trunk. The
plant branches close to the ground and often produces suckers from
roots near the base of the trunk. Young twigs are quadrangular and
leaves leaves are opposite, short-petioled, oval or oblong-elliptic,
somewhat irregular in outline, 2 - 6 inches long and 1 - 2 inches wide.
The dull-green, stiff but leathery leaves have pronounced veins, and
are slightly downy on the underside. Crushed leaves are aromatic.
Faintly fragrant, the white flowers, borne singly or in clusters in the
leaf axils, are 1 inch wide, with 4 or 5 white petals. These petals are
quickly shed, leaving a prominent tuft of perhaps 250 white stamens
tipped with pale-yellow anthers.
Guavas are primarily
self-fruitful, although some strains seem to produce more fruit when
cross-pollinated with another variety. Guavas can bloom throughout the
year in mild-winter areas, but the heaviest bloom occurs with the onset
of warm weather in the spring. The exact time can vary from year to
year depending on weather. The chief pollinator of guavas is the
fruits may be round, ovoid or pear-shaped, 2 - 4 inches long, and have
4 or 5 protruding floral remnants (sepals) at the apex. Varieties
differ widely in flavor and seediness. The better varieties are soft
when ripe, creamy in texture with a rind that softens to be fully
edible. The flesh may be white, pink, yellow, or red. The sweet, musky
odor is pungent and penetrating. The seeds are numerous but small and,
in good varieties, fully edible. Actual seed counts have ranged from
112 to 535. The quality of the fruit of guavas grown in cooler areas is
Location: Like other tender subtropicals, guavas need a frost-free location, but are not too fussy otherwise. They prefer full sun.
The guava will tolerate many soil conditions, but will produce better
in rich soils high in organic matter. They also prefer a well-drained
soil in the pH range of 5 to 7. The tree will take temporary
waterlogging but will not tolerate salty soils.
Guavas have survived dry summers with no water in California, although
they do best with regular deep watering. The ground should be allowed
to dry to a depth of several inches before watering again. Lack of
moisture will delay bloom and cause the fruit to drop.
Shaping the tree and removing water shoots and suckers are usually all
that is necessary. Guavas can take heavy pruning, however, and can be
used as informal hedges or screens. Since the fruit is borne on new
growth, pruning does not interfere with next years crop.
Guavas are fast growers and heavy feeders, and benefit from regular
applications of fertilizer. Mature trees may require as much as 1/2
pound actual nitrogen per year. Apply fertilizer monthly, just prior to
Overhead protection and planting on the warm side of a building or
structure will often provide suitable frost protection for guavas in
cooler areas. A frame over the plant covered with fabric will provide
additional protection during freezes, and electric lights can be
included for added warmth. Potted plants can be moved to a more
protected site if necessary.
Guava seed remain viable for many months. They often germinate in 2 - 3
weeks but may take as long as 8 weeks. Since guavas cannot be depended
upon to come true from seed, vegetative propagation is widely
practiced. They are not easy to graft, but satisfactory techniques have
been worked out for patch-budding by the Forkert Method (probably the
most reliable method), side-veneer grafting, approach grafting and
marcotting The tree can also be grown from root cuttings. Pieces of any
roots except the smallest and the very large, cut into 5 - 10 inch
lengths, are placed flat in a prepared bed and covered with 2 - 4
inches of soil, which must be kept moist. They may also be grown by
air-layering or from cuttings of half-ripened wood. Pieces 1/4 - 1/2
inch will root with bottom heat and rooting-hormone treatment. Trees
grown from cuttings or air-layering have no taproot, however, and are
apt to be blown down in the first 2 or 3 years. One of the difficulties
with budded and grafted guavas is the production of water sprouts and
suckers from the rootstocks.
Pests and diseases:
Foliage diseases, such as anthracnose, can be a problem in humid
climates. They can be controlled with regular fungicide applications.
Where present, root-rot nematodes will reduce plant vigor. Guava
whitefly, guava moth and Caribbean fruit fly can be major problems in
southern Florida, but have not been reported in California. Mealy-bugs,
scale, common white flies and thrips can be problems in California. In
some tropical countries the where fruit flies are a problem, the fruit
is covered when small with paper sacks to protect it and assure prime
quality fruits for the markets.
In warmer regions guavas will ripen all year. There is a distinctive
change in the color and aroma of the guava that has ripened. For the
best flavor, allow fruit to ripen on the tree. The can also be picked
green-mature and allowed to ripen off the tree at room temperature.
Placing the fruit in a brown paper bag with a banana or apple will
hasten ripening. Mature green fruit can be stored for two to five weeks
at temperature between 46° and 50° F and relative humidity of
85 to 95 percent. Fruit that has changed color cannot be stored for any
extended periods. It bruises easily and will quickly deteriorate or
rot. Commercial juice varieties have rock hard inedible seeds, deep
pink flesh and hard yellow rinds. They are not good for eating out of
hand but have extremely high vitamin C content.
Guavas are the only commercially significant myrtaceous fruit. It is an
important fruit in many parts of the world suitable for its production.
Guava is one of the leading fruits of Mexico. Commercial producation of
guava in Hawaii and Florida is hampered by the presence of fruit flies.
California is too cool except for a few selected sites.
from a seedling population derived from fruits found in Halemanu, Oahu,
Hawaii. Medium to large, roundish fruits weighing up to 8 ounces. Flesh
pink, mildly acid, seedy. Excellent for processing. Somewhat
susceptible to fruit rots. Tree vigorous, wide spreading, very
in Riverside, Calif. in the early 1900's. Selected by H. J. Webber.
Medium to large, roundish fruit, about 3 inches in diameter. Skin
greenish-yellow, moderately thick. Flesh yellowish to salmon, medium
firm, relatively sweet, of pleasant flavor. Quality very good. Tree is
a very heavy bearer.
Hong Kong Pink
at Poamoho Experimental Farm, Oahu, Hawaii from seed obtained from a
clone grown in Hong Kong. Medium to large, roundish fruit fruit
weighing 6 - 8 ounces. Flesh is pinkish-red, very thick,
smooth-textured. Flavor subacid to sweet, very pleasant, few seeds.
Tree spreading, high yielding.
in Mexico. Small to medium-small, roundish fruits. Skin light yellow,
slightly blushed with red. Flesh creamy white, thick, very sweet,
fine-textured, excellent for dessert. Seed cavity small with relatively
soft seeds. Tree upright.
in Dade County, Fla. by Fred Lenz. Introduced in 1946. Medium-large,
roundish fruit, of strong odor. Skin yellow, often with pink blush.
Flesh medium thick, red, sweet, quality good. Ascorbic acid content
averages 195 mg per 100 g fresh fruit, total sugars 7 - 10%. Seeds
numerous but small. Good for eating out of hand.
of the Florida cultivars Ruby and Supreme. Small, roundish fruit. Skin
greenish-yellow. Flesh dark pinkish-orange. Flavor delicious, sweet,
seed cavity 33% of pulp. Tree bushy, low growing, with vigorous
branches drooping outward.
Sweet White Indonesian
round fruit, 4 inches or more in diameter. Thin, pale yellow skin.
Thick white, melting flesh of a sweet, delicious flavor. Edible seeds
in cavity surrounded by juicy pulp. Vigorous, fast growing tree, bears
several times a year.
in Florida. Small to medium-sized, roundish fruit, 2-1/2 to 3 inches in
diameter. Flesh thick, white, moderately seedy. Excellent, sprightly
flavor. Tree somewhat of a shy bearer.
An improved selection from Florida with seedless, white flesh of good quality.
Facciola, Stephen. Cornucopia: a Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications, 1990.
Morton, Julia F. Fruits of Warm Climates. Creative Resources Systems, Inc. 1987. pp. 356-363.
Ortho Books. All About Citrus and Subtropical Fruits. Chevron Chemical Co. 1985. pp. 49-50
Popenoe, Wilson. Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits. Hafner Press. 1974. Facsimile of the 1920. pp. 272-279.