The pineapple guava (Prunus persica) is one of the most popular fruits in Hawaii. It grows wild all over Oahu and Kauai, but its best known location is at Makena State Park, just north of Kailua-Kona. These tropical trees are native to South America and grow up to 30 feet tall with a spread of 10 feet or so. They have large, fleshy green leaves that turn yellowish brown when they get cold. They produce small white berries that taste like a cross between pineapple and grapefruit. There are many varieties of pineapples, some being sweeter than others, but the pineapple guava is considered the sweetest because it contains a higher concentration of fructose compared to other types of pines.
There are two kinds of pineapple guavas: those grown in Hawaii and those from Mexico. The Hawaiian variety is the most widely cultivated, but there are also several Mexican varieties.
The pineapple guava tree is native to Central America and was introduced into Hawaii by European settlers in the early 1800s. Most of them were planted in the garden trade along with other exotic plants such as lilies, tulips, daisies and sunflowers. Today, these trees are still grown commercially for their fruit.
How To Grow Pineapple Guava Tree?
You can start with a seed, cutting or transplant. It is better to plant it in the ground rather than in a container because it has a tendency to get root-bound (when roots circle and entwine around each other and the pot). If you do grow it in a container, keep the soil loose by watering and fertilizing heavily. You can also grow them from seed, but it takes a long time for them to mature. With a cutting or transplant, you can get a tree-sized pineapple guava within 4-5 years.
If you buy a seed, start the seed indoors in late winter to early spring, then keep the temperature around 75F until it germinates. The seed should start to sprout within a week.
When you plant it outside, keep the soil temperature between 65-85F. Too hot or too cold and the seed won’t sprout.
The ideal time to plant a pineapple guava tree is in the fall. If you live in a mild climate such as San Francisco or Austin, then you can plant it any time of the year.
In colder places such as Oregon and Washington, you should plant it in the late fall or winter.
When you go to a nursery to buy a plant, look for one that has a single stem and medium sized leaves. The bigger the tree, the more fruit it yields.
Plant the tree 1-1.5m deep and 1-1.5m apart from other trees or shrubs. Water the plant well and add a slow release fertilizer. You need to water it weekly until it gets established (first year), then you should water it every 2-3 weeks.
It grows slowly during the first year and a half, but after that it will grow 1-2 feet per year. It starts to produce fruit 2-4 years after planting.
The tree will live for 20-30 years, but the fruit only lasts 1-2 weeks in the fridge.
Harvesting pineapple guavas is easy because they grow right off the trunk. Snapping them off is enough to harvest.
How To Eat Pineapple Guava?
The skin and the seeds can both be eaten, but the seeds contain small amounts of cyanide so remove them before eating. You can eat them raw or cook them. They taste better if you add a bit of lemon, chili powder or cilantro. You can also make jam, butter, wine, vinegar and more.
Pineapple guavas are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants.
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