Oct. 17, 2017
Guava, Psidium guajava L.
One of the most gregarious of fruit trees, the guava, Psidium guajava L., of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae), is almost universally known by its common English name or its equivalent in other languages. In Spanish, the tree is guayabo, or guayavo, the fruit guayaba or guyava. The French call it goyave or goyavier; the Dutch, guyaba, goeajaaba; the Surinamese, guave or goejaba; and the Portuguese, goiaba or goaibeira. Hawaiians call it guava or kuawa. In Guam it is abas. In Malaya, it is generally known either as guava or jambu batu, but has also numerous dialectal names as it does in India, tropical Africa and the Philippines where the corruption, bayabas, is often applied. Various tribal names-pichi, posh, enandi, etc.-are employed among the Indians of Mexico and Central and South America.
DescriptionA small tree to 33 ft (10 in) high, with spreading branches, the guava is easy to recognize because of its smooth, thin, copper-colored bark that flakes off, showing the greenish layer beneath; and also because of the attractive, "bony" aspect of its trunk which may in time attain a diameter of 10 in (25 cm). Young twigs are quadrangular and downy. The leaves, aromatic when crushed, are evergreen, opposite, short-petioled, oval or oblong-elliptic, somewhat irregular in outline; 2 3/4 to 6 in (7-15 cm) long, 1 to 2 in (3-5 cm) wide, leathery, with conspicuous parallel veins, and more or less downy on the underside. Faintly fragrant, the white flowers, borne singly or in small clusters in the leaf axils, are 1 in (2.5 cm) wide, with 4 or 5 white petals which are quickly shed, and a prominent tuft of perhaps 250 white stamens tipped with pale-yellow anthers.
The fruit, exuding a strong, sweet, musky odor when ripe, may be round, ovoid, or pear-shaped, 2 to 4 in (5-10 cm) long, with 4 or 5 protruding floral remnants (sepals) at the apex; and thin, light-yellow skin, frequently blushed with pink. Next to the skin is a layer of somewhat granular flesh, 1/8 to 1/2 in (3-12.5 mm) thick, white, yellowish, light- or dark-pink, or near-red, juicy, acid, subacid, or sweet and flavorful. The central pulp, concolorous or slightly darker in tone, is juicy and normally filled with very hard, yellowish seeds, 1/8 in (3 min) long, though some rare types have soft, chewable seeds. Actual seed counts have ranged from 112 to 535 but some guavas are seedless or nearly so.
When immature and until a very short time before ripening, the fruit is green, hard, gummy within and very astringent.