|Acca sellowiana subsp. var.||Feijoa, Pineapple Guava, Guavasteen|
The Feijoa (Acca sellowiana, synonym Feijoa sellowiana), also known as Pineapple Guava or Guavasteen, is an evergreen shrub or small tree, 1-7 m in height, originating from the highlands of southern Brazil, parts of Colombia, Uruguay and northern Argentina. In more recent times Feijoa sellowiana has been renamed Acca sellowiana, but most sources still use the older name. It is a warm-temperate to subtropical plant that will also grow in the tropics but requires some winter chilling to fruit. In the northern hemisphere it has been cultivated as far north as western Scotland but does not fruit every year, as winter temperatures below about -9°C will kill the flower buds.
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.
Growth Habit: 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.
Foliage: 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.
Flowers: 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 the flower.
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.
Fruits: 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.
The fruit matures in autumn and is green, chicken-egg-sized, and ellipsoid-shaped. It has a sweet, aromatic flavour. The flesh is juicy and is divided into a clear jelly-like seed pulp and a firmer, slightly gritty opaque flesh nearer the skin. The fruit drops when ripe, but can be picked from the tree prior to drop to prevent bruising. This plant is monotypic in its genus. Like the closely-related guava, the fruit pulp has a gritty texture which is utlised in some natural cosmetic products as an exfoliant.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Feijoa. The Feijoa, or Pineapple Guava (Feijoa Sellowiana, Berg, family Myrtaceae) is indigenous to western Paraguay, southern Brazil, Uruguay, and parts of Argentina, where it is common in the forests, and the fruit is highly esteemed by the natives though not cultivated. It was introduced to southern Europe in 1890, and is grown along the Riviera, both in France and Italy. From the former country it was introduced to the United States about 1900, and is becoming widely planted in California. Its distribution in other countries is very limited.
Feijoa is of 2 species. It is the Orthostemon of Berg, not of Robert Brown. F. obovata, Berg (o. obovatus, Berg), is considered by Niedenzu to be a variety of F. Sellowiana. It is a white-tomentose shrub, with bisexual showy fls.; petals 4, spreading; stamens numerous, in many series, colored; ovary 4-celled, bearing a thickish style; pedicels 1-fld., at the ends of the branches or becoming lateral. The other species is F. Schenckiana, Kiaersk., of Brazil, described first in 1891. The genus is closely allied to psidium. but is distinguished by the albuminous seeds and stamens suberect in the bud.
The plant grows to an ultimate height of 15 feet. Its leaves are similar in form and appearance to those of the olive, but larger, the upper surface glossy green, and lower surface silvery gray, forming a contrast that makes the shrub effectively ornamental. This effect is much heightened by its flowers which are produced in late spring and are 11/2 inches in diameter, composed of four cupped petals, white outside and purplish crimson within, surmounted by a tuft of crimson stamens 1 inch long. The oval or oblong fruits, 2 inches in length and 1 1/2 inches in thickness, ripen in autumn and early winter. The skin is dull green, with sometimes a touch of crimson on the cheek; it incloses a layer of whitish, granular flesh, which surrounds a quantity of translucent, melting pulp, containing twenty to thirty seeds. The flavor bears a pronounced resemblance to that of the pineapple, this being enhanced by the fact that the seeds are so small that they cannot be felt in the mouth. While commonly eaten fresh, the fruit may be cooked in several ways, crystallized, or made into jam or jelly.
The feijoa does not seem to thrive under strictly tropical conditions, preferring a climate such as that of southern California or the Riviera, free from excessive humidity, and cool-at least part of the year. In France, the plants have passed uninjured through temperatures of 12° F. A good loam, rich in humus, is the ideal soil for the feijoa. It has been successfully grown on heavy clay, by working in a quantity of light material, but it does not do well on light or sandy soils. The situation seems to be of little importance; provided the land is well drained. While the plant is notably drought-resistant, for best results in growth and fruiting a liberal supply of water is necessary. During the dry season, irrigations should be as frequent as for citrous trees. Fertilizers must be applied with caution, or they will stimulate growth at the expense of fruit. A small quantity of bone-meal, or other fertilizer not too rich in nitrogen, may be advantageously applied each year, while well-rotted manure will supply the much-needed humus, if it is lacking in the soil. The plants should be set 15 or 18 feet apart, and require very little pruning. Seedlings usually come into bearing at three to five years; grafted or layered plants will sometimes bear the second year.
In some instances, seedling feijoas fruit sparingly or not at all, either through the failure of the flowers to be properly fertilized or because of unfavorable soil or surroundings. Although isolated plants are often productive, it has been suggested that the feijoa is sometimes self sterile, and two or more bushes should be planted together to permit of cross-pollination. The difficulty can probably be obviated, in a measure at least, by propagating asexually from strains of known productiveness.
The fruits fall when mature, and must be laid in a cool place until they are in condition for eating, which can be detected by a slight softening, and also by the odor,—a fragrance most delightful. If picked before fully mature and ready to fall, the fruits lack much of the delicate flavor of a perfectly ripened specimen. Very little care is required in packing, and the fruits can be shipped long distances without difficulty. They spoil quickly in a hot, humid atmosphere, but if stored in a cool place they can be kept for a month or more in perfect condition.
The shrub is attacked by a very few insects, the only one noted in either California or southern Europe being the black scale (Saissetm oleae), which rarely requires combative measures. No fungus diseases have been observed on mature plants.
Propagation is usually by seed, but some vegetative means must be used to perpetuate named varieties. Fruits for seed should be selected with a view to desirability in every character, as in precocity of bearing and productiveness of the parent. While the feijoa does not come absolutely true from seed, fairly good results are usually secured from selected seeds.
One of the best mediums for germinating the seeds is a mixture of silver-sand and well-rotted redwood sawdust. This gives an almost sterile medium, in which there is little danger of damping-off, to which fungus the young plants are very susceptible. With care in watering, however, any light porous soil, not too rich in humus, may be used. Sow the seeds in pans or flats, covering them to the depth of 1/4 inch. Germination will usually take place within three weeks. A glasshouse is not necessary, but the flats containing the seeds should be kept in a frame with lath or slat covering to provide partial shade. The seeds will retain their vitality a year or more, if kept dry. As soon as the young plants have made their second leaves they should be pricked off into 2-inch pots; after attaining a height of 4 inches they should be shifted into 3-inch pots, from which they can later on be transplanted into the open ground.
Cuttings can be successfully rooted under glass. They should be of young wood from the ends of branches, and about 4 inches in length. Inserted in clear sand over bottom heat they will strike roots in a month or two; without bottom heat they root very slowly. It is sometimes advised to keep them covered with bell-jars until they have formed roots.
Layering is used in France to perpetuate choice forms. It is somewhat tedious, but more certain than any other vegetative means of propagation. Those branches which are closest to the ground are bent down and covered with soil for the space of 3 to 6 inches. They require no care except to keep the soil fairly moist, and they will root in six months.
Whip-grafting and veneer-grafting are successfully practised under glass, using as stocks seedling feijoas of the diameter of a lead pencil. The cions should be of about the same diameter and of young but firm wood.
Several named varieties have been established, of which the most prominent are Andre and Besson.
Location: 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 informal hedge.
Some grafted cultivars are self fertile. Most are not, and require a pollenizer. Seedlings may or may not be of usable quality, and may or may not be self fertile. In New Zealand, the pollinators are medium sized birds such as the Silvereye in the cooler parts of the South Island, the blackbird or the Indian myna further North, which feed on the sweet, fleshy petals of the feijoa flower. In some areas where the species has been introduced, it has been unproductive due to lack of pollinators.
Soil: 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.
Irrigation: 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.
Fertilization: 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 growth.
Pruning: Pruning 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.
Harvest: 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. When the fruits are immature the seed pulp is white and opaque, becoming clear and jelly-like when ripe. Mature fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week, but after that the quality declines. Fruits are at their optimum maturity when the seed pulp has turned into a clear jelly with no hint of browning. Once the seed pulp and surrounding flesh start to brown, the fruit is over mature and shouldn't be eaten. 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.
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.
- Apollo - Medium 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.
- Choiceana - Originated 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.
- Coolidge - Originated 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 - Originated 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 California.
- Edenvale Late - From 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 Supreme - From 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 California.
- Gemini - Fruit 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.
- Mammoth - Selected 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.
- Moore - Large, flavorsome fruit. Ripens in midseason. Very vigorous plant. Recommended for California.
- Nazemetz - Originated 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.
- Pineapple Gem - Originated 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 conditions.
- Trask - Originated 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.
- Triumph - Selected 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.
- California Rare Fruit Growers: Feijoa Fruit Facts
- w:Feijoa. Some of the material on this page may be from Wikipedia, under the Creative Commons license.
- Feijoa QR Code (Size 50, 100, 200, 500)
- 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.
- Fruits of Warm Climates: Feijoa
- California Rare Fruit Growers: Feijoa Fruit Facts
- New Zealand Feijoa Growers Association Inc.