Herbal Highlights –Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana)

When I was a student at UC Davis, I always looked forward to late November and December, when I could wander through the campus in search of the many pineapple guava shrubs so I could harvest the amazing perfumed yellow green fruit. So unusually delicious, I just couldn’t get enough of them! There are many great reasons to grow them in your garden, as they are both functional and beautiful.

Pineapple guava is a handsome evergreen shrub, growing to 12 feet tall. Although related to the tropical guava, pineapple guava is cold tolerant to 15 degrees F, and once established is extremely drought tolerant. Leaves are grayish green, fuzzy white below, and somewhat leathery. In general they are deer resistant. Plants that are maintained are fairly fire resistant, especially if lower branches are removed and plants are deep watered.

The flowers of pineapple guava are a beautiful sugary whitish pink, with deep rose red stamens. The flower petals are deliciously edible! They have a crunchy texture, with a sweet marshmallow flavor. Its such a novel treat to add to salads in the spring, it’s hard to remember to leave some flowers on the plant so you can enjoy the unusual winter fruit. The fruit looks a bit like an elongated kiwi, with a similar texture, a sweet perfumed fragrance, and a flavor somewhat pineapplish -mint -custard. Yum, so delicious, and since they are difficult to find in the store it’s great to have one or two planted in your yard.

Pineapple guava is a moderate growing shrub, and with light pruning is an excellent hedge or screen. It prefers full sun but can grow in areas with 4 – 5 hours of sun, and can grow with little or no water once the root system is established. Most varieties are self fertile, but all pineapple guava will pollinate better and produce more fruit if more than one bush is planted. To get plump fruit increase the water as fruit is forming, deep watering once a week. Growing pineapple guava in containers is easy, particularly if grown in larger pots.

Deep watering and monthly fertilizing is important to keep your plants looking healthy and if you want to produce fruit on your potted plants. A lovely, low maintenance evergreen shrub for your garden, with edible fruit and flowers, If you can find a space for pineapple guava in your life you will be rewarded year round!