Fruit Facts from
California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
© Copyright 1996, California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
Feijoa sellowiana O.
Common Names: Feijoa, Pineapple Guava, Guavasteen
Related Species: In more recent times Feijoa sellowiana has been renamed Acca sellowiana, but most sources still use the older name.
Distant affinity: Eugenias (Eugenia spp.), Guavas (Psidium spp.), Jaboticaba (Myrciaria spp.).
The feijoa is native to extreme southern Brazil, northern Argentina,
western Paraguay and Uruguay where it is common in the mountains.
Feijoas prefer cool winters and moderate summers (80° to 90°
F), and are generally adapted to areas where temperatures stay above
15° F. Flower production is poor in areas with fewer than 50 hours
of chilling. The flavor of the fruit is much better in cool than in
warm regions. Even thought the plants are relatively hardy, sudden fall
frosts can damage ripening fruit and late spring frosts can destroy
blossoms. Spring frost damage is most likely in mild-winter areas,
where the plants are not completely hardened off and respond to warm
spells by blooming early.
The feijoa is a slow-growing evergreen shrub that can reach 15 ft. high
and 15 ft. wide. The bark is pale gray and the spreading branches are
swollen at the nodes and white-hairy when young. In addition to the
fruit it provides, the shrub also doubles handsomely as a landscape
specimen. When planted close together, the shrubs make a nice hedge,
screen, or windbreak. Feijoas can also be espaliered or trained as a
small tree (20 to 25 ft. tall) with one or more trunks. The wood is
dense, hard, and brittle.
The evergreen, thick, leathery leaves of the feijoa are opposite,
short-petioled and bluntly elliptical. In size they range from 1 to
2-1/2 inches long and 5/8 to 1 inch wide. The leaves are smooth soft
green on top and silvery underneath, flashing nicely in a gentle breeze.
The 1 inch showy, bisexual flowers, borne singly or in a cluster, have
long, bright red stamens topped with large grains of yellow pollen.
Flowers appear late, from May through June. Each flower contains four
to six fleshy flower petals that are white tinged with purple on the
inside. These petals are mildly sweet and edible and can make a
refreshing addition to spring salads. Birds eating the petals pollinate
It has been said that feijoa pollen is transferred
by birds that are attracted to and eat the flowers, but bees are the
chief pollinators. Most flowers pollinated with compatible pollen show
60 to 90% fruit set. Hand pollination is nearly 100% effective. Two or
more bushes should be planted together for cross-pollination unless the
cultivar is known to be self-compatible. Poor bearing is usually the
result of inadequate pollination.
The fruits range from 3/4 to 3-1/2 inches long and vary in shape from
round to elongated pear shape, with the persistent calyx segments
adhering to the apex. The waxy skin is dull blue-green to blue or
grayish green, sometimes with a red or orange blush. Skin texture
varies from smooth to rough and pebbly and is 3/16 to 5/8 inch thick.
The fruit emits a strong long-lasting perfume, even before it is fully
ripe. The thick, white, granular, watery flesh and the translucent
central pulp enclosing the seeds are sweet or subacid, suggesting a
combination of pineapple and guava or pineapple and strawberry, often
with overtones of winter green or spearmint. There are usually 20 - 40,
occasionally more, very small, oblong seeds hardly noticeable when the
fruit is eaten.
To protect the fruit from sunburn and other adverse effects of high
temperature, choose a plant site away from hot, reflected sun. The
feijoa can tolerate partial shade and slight exposure to salt spray.
They also make an excellent foundation planting, either singly or as an
Feijoas will grow in a wide variety of soils. The best harvests,
however, come from plants growing in well-drained soil with a pH
between 5.5 and 7.0. They are fairly salt tolerant, but salinity slows
growth and reduces yields.
Foundation plantings of feijoas in summer dry California have survived
for several years without supplemental water. Lack of water, however,
will cause the fruit to drop. For quality harvests, water deeply on a
regular basis, especially during flowering and fruit periods, and mulch
the soil around the plants to protect the shallow roots.
Feijoas grow slowly and require only light applications of a complete
fertilizer. A feeding of 8-8-8 NPK once every two months can speed
is not required to keep plants productive, but a light pruning in the
summer after fruit is harvested will encourage new growth and increase
yields the following year. Thinning the plant also permits easier
harvesting. When grown as a hedge, the feijoa responds well to heavy
pruning or shearing, but this reduces flower and fruit production.
The feijoa grows easily from seed, but the seedlings are not always
true to type. Seeds are separated by squeezing the seedy pulp into a
container, covering with water, and letting the liquid stand for 4 days
to ferment. The seeds are then strained out and dried before sowing.
The seeds will retain viability for a year or more if kept dry.
Germination takes place in 3 weeks. The plant fruits in 3 - 5 years
from seed. Vegetative means are necessary to reproduce a variety. Young
wood cuttings will root within two months with bottom heat and mist.
Whip, tongue or veneer grafting methods are sometimes successful, as is
air-layering and ground layering. Cutting-grown plants of named
varieties are most desirable, because they can be trained in a variety
of ways, and can be maintained as multitrunked shrubs without concern
that suckers will develop into "rogue" branches.
Pests and diseases:
The feijoa is remarkably pest and disease-resistant. It is occasionally
attacked by by black scale in California, as well as fruit flies where
that is a problem.
In southern California the fruits ripen 4-1/2 to 6 months after flowers
appear and in 5-1/2 to 7 months in the San Francisco area. As the fruit
matures, its color changes almost imperceptibly. The best way is to
allow them to fall from the tree. Giving the tree a shake and gathering
the fruit from the ground every couple of days is the usual method of
harvesting. To keep the fruit from bruising, place a tarp or other
large cloth under the tree to catch them as they fall. Feijoas can also
be picked when firm and mature and allowed to ripen at room
temperature, although the quality will not be as good as tree ripened
fruit. Mature fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week,
but after that the quality declines. Feijoas are mainly eaten fresh as
a dessert or in salads, but can also be cooked in puddings, pies, etc.
After peeling, the fruit should be immediately dipped into water
containing fresh lemon juice to prevent the flesh from turning brown.
Potential: In California the feijoa is grown in a limited way for its
fruit, especially in cool coastal locations, mainly around San
Francisco. There has also been a major effort in New Zealand to
commercialize the feijoa. Both domestic and imported fruit can often be
found in the markets, but the demand does not seem to be great.
to large, oval fruit. Smooth, thin, light-green skin with blue-green
surface bloom, subject to bruising and purpling. Pulp well-developed,
slightly gritty. Flavor very pleasant, quality excellent. Ripens mid to
late-season. Tree upright and spreading, to 8 ft. tall, vigorous and
productive. Self-fertile, and will pollinate Gemini.
in Australia. Small to medium-sized, round to oval fruit, 2 to 3-1/2
inches long. Skin fairly smooth. Flavor and quality good. Ripens in
midseason. Tree moderately vigorous, spreading. Almost or always, but
not less than 42% self-fertile.
in Australia prior to 1908. Small to medium-sized fruit, 4 or more
inches in length and 2-1/2 inches in diameter. Form pyriform to oblong
or elongated. Skin somewhat wrinkled. Flavor mild, indifferent quality.
Tree upright and strong growing, a reliable and heavy bearer, 100%
self-fertile. The most widely planted cultivar in California.
Edenvale Improved Coolidge
in Santa Cruz, Calif. by Frank Serpa of Edenvale Nurseries. Large,
oblong fruit of very good to excellent flavor and quality. Ripens in
October. Tree slow growing. Self-fertile, precocious and productive.
Grows best in climates similar to cool, coastal ares of southern
Edenvale Nurseries. Mediuim-sized, oblong fruit of very good to
excellent flavor and quality. Ripens late, in January,and over a long
period of time. Tree slow growing. Self-fertile, very productive. Grows
best in climates similar to cool, coastal areas of southern California.
Edenvale Nurseries. Medium-sized, oblong fruit of very good to
excellent flavor and quality. Ripens in November. Best eaten soon after
harvest. Tree slow growing. Self-fertile, precocious and productive.
Grows best in climates similar to cool, coastal areas of southern
small to medium, egg-shaped. Skin very smooth, thin, dark green with a
heavy bloom. Flavor and texture excellent. Ripens in early autumn,
earlier than Apollo. Tree upright, spreading, to 8 ft tall. Moderately
vigorous, high yielding, partially self-fruitful, but cross pollination
is recommended for best fruit quality.
in New Zealand from seedlings of the Choiceana. Large, round to oval
fruit, to 8-1/2 ounces, resembling Coolidge. Skin thick, somewhat
wrinkled. Flesh somewhat gritty, quality and flavor very good. Matures
early in midseason. Softer and not as good a shipper as Triumph. Tree
of upright habit, to 10 ft. tall, strong growing. Self-fertile, but
bears larger fruit, with cross-pollination.
Large, flavorsome fruit. Ripens in midseason. Very vigorous plant. Recommended for California.
in San Diego, Calif. by Alexander Nazemetz. Large, pear-shaped fruit,
averaging 3 ounce in weight. Side walls moderately thin. Pulp
translucent and sweet. Flavor and quality excellent. Ripens in late
October to mid-December. Unlike that of many other cultivars, the pulp
of Nazemetz does not darken after being cut or as it ripens, but
retains its clear color. Tree self-fertile, but bears most heavily when
cross-pollinated. Good pollinator for Trask.
in Azusa, Calif. by Monrovia Nursery. Small, round fruit of good to
very good quality. Mid to late season ripening. Tree self-fruitful but
bears heavier crops if pollinated. Does poorly under cool, coastal
as a bud sport of Coolidge. Medium to large, oblong fruit, up to 3-1/2
inches long and weighing 3 to 5 ounces. Rough, dark green skin. Shells
thicker and grittier than Coolidge. Flavor and quality good to very
good. Ripens early. Tree self-fertile, but most productive when
cross-pollinated. Precocious. Ideal pollinator for Nazemetz.
in New Zealand from seedlings of the Choiceana cultivar. Short, oval,
plump fruits., not pointed as those of Coolidge, medium to large. Skin
uneven but firm. Flesh somewhat gritty but with good seed to pulp
ratio. Excellent sharp flavor. Ripens to midseason. Tree upright, of
medium vigor. Bears heavily if pollinated. Good pollinator for Mammoth.
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. 367-370.
Ortho Books. All About Citrus and Subtropical Fruits. Chevron Chemical Co. 1985. pp. 44-45.