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 Psidium subsp. var.  Guava, Tropical Guava
Apple Guava Psidium guajava
Habit: shrub
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Origin: Mexico, C America
Exposure: sun
Water: moderate
Features: edible, fruit
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones: varies by species
Flower features:
Myrtaceae > Psidium var. ,

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Adaptation: The tropical guava is best adapted to the warm climate of Florida and Hawaii, although it can be grown in coastal Southern California, and with some protection, selected areas north to Mendocino County. Guavas actually thrive in both humid and dry climates, but can survive only a few degrees of frost. The tree will recover from a brief exposure to 29° F but may be completely defoliated. Young trees are particularly sensitive to cold spells. Older trees, killed to the ground, have sent up new shoots which fruited 2 years later. Guavas can take considerable neglect, withstanding temporary waterlogging and very high temperatures. They tend to bear fruit better in areas with a definite winter or cooler season. The adaptability of the guava makes it a serious weed tree in some tropical areas. The smaller guava cultivars can make an excellent container specimen.

Growth Habit: Guavas are evergreen, shallow-rooted shrubs or small trees to 33 ft, with spreading branches. Growth in California is rarely over 10 - 12 feet. The bark is smooth, mottled green or reddish brown and peels off in thin flakes to reveal the attractive "bony" aspect of its trunk. The plant branches close to the ground and often produces suckers from roots near the base of the trunk. Young twigs are quadrangular and downy.

Foliage: Guava leaves leaves are opposite, short-petioled, oval or oblong-elliptic, somewhat irregular in outline, 2 - 6 inches long and 1 - 2 inches wide. The dull-green, stiff but leathery leaves have pronounced veins, and are slightly downy on the underside. Crushed leaves are aromatic.

Flowers: Faintly fragrant, the white flowers, borne singly or in clusters in the leaf axils, are 1 inch wide, with 4 or 5 white petals. These petals are quickly shed, leaving a prominent tuft of perhaps 250 white stamens tipped with pale-yellow anthers.

Guavas are primarily self-fruitful, although some strains seem to produce more fruit when cross-pollinated with another variety. Guavas can bloom throughout the year in mild-winter areas, but the heaviest bloom occurs with the onset of warm weather in the spring. The exact time can vary from year to year depending on weather. The chief pollinator of guavas is the honeybee.

Fruits: Guava fruits may be round, ovoid or pear-shaped, 2 - 4 inches long, and have 4 or 5 protruding floral remnants (sepals) at the apex. Varieties differ widely in flavor and seediness. The better varieties are soft when ripe, creamy in texture with a rind that softens to be fully edible. The flesh may be white, pink, yellow, or red. The sweet, musky odor is pungent and penetrating. The seeds are numerous but small and, in good varieties, fully edible. Actual seed counts have ranged from 112 to 535. The quality of the fruit of guavas grown in cooler areas is often disappointing.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Guava. The name guava is applied to the fruit of various species of Psidium, frequently with the addition of a qualifying word such as apple, pear, Cattley, to distinguish different species and varieties. In Spanish it is guayaba, in Portuguese goiaba. and in French goyave (the plant goyavier). In Brazil the name araca, with qualifying words, is applied to a number of wild species.

The common guava of the tropics is Psidium guajava, Linn., of which there are numerous varieties. Although the native home of this species is in tropical America, it is now widely distributed throughout the warmest regions of the globe. Under favorable conditions it becomes a tree 25 to 30 feet in height; its bark is smooth, greenish brown in color, while the leaves are opposite, oval, smooth, light green, the veins depressed above and prominent below. The flowers, which are produced in the axils of the leaves, are about an inch in diameter, with four incurved white petals and a large tuft of white stamens tipped with yellowish anthers.

The fruit varies in shape from spherical to pyrifonn, and in diameter from 1 to 4 inches. Commonly it is oval or slightly pyrifonn, and about 2 inches in diameter. The thin light yellow skin surrounds a layer of finely granular pulp, inside of which is a mass of softer pulp in which the small hard seeds are embedded. The color of the flesh varies from white through shades of salmon to deep pink, according to the variety; its flavor when fully ripe is sweet or slightly acid, and nearly always somewhat musky. The aroma is characteristic and rather penetrating; while objectionable to some persons it is very agreeable to others.

The fruit is eaten in many ways,—out of hand, sliced with cream, stewed, preserved, and in shortcakes and pies, but it is most highly valued for the manufacture of jams and jellies. In several tropical countries the manufacture of guava jelly forms quite an important industry. When well made, it is deep wine color, clear, of very firm consistency, and retains something of the peculiar musky flavor which characterizes the fruit, and which gives guava jelly an individuality which is its greatest asset. In Brazil a thick jam, known as goiabada, is made from the fruit and sold in large quantities throughout the country. A similar product is manufactured in the West Indies and Florida under the name of guava cheese.

The plant is cultivated to a limited extent in southern California, where it is frequently listed under the name of lemon guava. It is too tender for the colder sections of the state. In Florida it is not only cultivated in gardens, but is found in a semi-naturalized condition in some sections and has become a pest. The same is true in many other regions; the plant grows so readily from seed that it is sometimes difficult to prevent its spreading to places where it is not desired when the seeds are scattered by birds or other agencies.

The Cattley or strawberry guava, P. Cattleianum, Fig. 1769, is also a well-known fruit in this country. In Califprnia it is widely cultivated because of its superior hardiness, withstanding temperatures as low as 22° F. without injury. It does not grow to such large size as P. Guajava, but under favorable conditions forms an arborescent shrub 15 to 20 feet in height. Unlike P. guajava, its leaves are thick, leathery, and somewhat glossy, in size rarely over 2 ½ inches in length and in form obovate-elliptical. The fruit, which is usually produced in great abundance, is broadly pyriform to spherical, 1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter. The skin is deep purplish maroon, the flesh translucent yellowish white, very soft and melting in texture. The seeds are rather numerous, irregularly oval in form. The flavor lacks the pungency of P. Guajava, and a resemblance, real or imagined, to that of the strawberry has suggested the common name of "strawberry guava." Jelly made from this fruit, while lacking the pronounced flavor of that made from P. Guajava, is nevertheless highly esteemed in California, most of the fruit being utilized for jelly-making.

While rather slow in growth, the plant frequently begins to bear fruit the second or third year from the seed. A horticultural form of this species, P. Cattleianum lucidum, generally listed by the trade as P. lucidum, is grown both in Florida and California, though not so extensively as P. Cattleianum itself. The chief difference between this form and the type lies in the color of the fruit, which in place of maroon is deep sulfur-yellow. The flavor, if anything, is a little milder and less pungent. It is a meritorious form, worthy of wider cultivation.

The "pineapple guava," of California, is Feijoa Sellowiana, a South American myrtaceous fruit not properly called a guava, perhaps, but so closely resembling some of the guavas in growth and fruit as to suggest this name. See Feijoa. Several other species of Psidium are grown in this country to a limited extent, some of them having been recently introduced. Tropical America is rich in species of Psidium, Brazil alone possessing a large number of economic value. Most of these are still in the wild state and capable of vast improvement by selection and breeding.

The culture of the guavas presents few difficulties. Nearly all species succeed on a variety of soils, requiring only that good drainage be provided. While propagation is nearly always by seed, some vegetative method must be used to perpetuate desirable varieties. This is especially important with P. Guajava, in which there is more variation than in P. Cattleianum, and desirable forms do not come true from seed. Grafting has been successfully performed but never widely practised. In California, budding has been quite successful, with large stocks an inch or more in diameter and square or oblong patch buds about 1 ½ inches in length. This method, however, does not seem very suitable for commercial use. Shield-budding has been successful in a few instances, the operation being performed as with citrus, and it is this method which probably offers the greatest advantages. Propagation by cuttings is also possible, when half-ripened wood is used and bottom heat is available. All these methods have been practised to a very limited extent, seed- propagation being practically the only method used in most tropical countries. Seeds retain their vitality for some time, but should be planted as fresh as possible, using a light sandy loam and taking care to avoid over-watering when the young plants appear. When the second leaves have formed, the plants should be potted off and carried along in pots until they are transplanted into permanent positions, since they are somewhat difficult to transplant from the open ground. Planting should be done in late spring.

In California P. guajava frequently suffers from the attacks of the black scale (Saissetia oleae), which must be kept in check by fumigation or spraying. In other countries this plant seems remarkably free from insect pests or fungous diseases, and this is true also of the Cattley guava. The fruits are sometimes injured by the Mediterranean fruit-fly, and a scab has been observed in Brazil which affects them prejudicially. As a rule, however, the plants require little attention. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Psidium (Greek, psidion, the pomegranate). Myrtaceae. A large group of tropical and subtropical trees and shrubs, all native to America, many of which produce edible fruits. The common guava of the tropics, P. Guajava, is the best known. It has become naturalized in many parts of Asia and Africa. See Guava.

Leaves opposite, petiolate, glabrous, pubescent or tomentose, pinnately veined: fls. usually rather large, whitish, on axillary or lateral 1-3- (rarely many-) fld. peduncles; calyx-tube urceolate or pyriform, lobes 4-5. persistent; calyx sometimes closed before anthesis and splitting irregularly into 2-5 lobes; petals 4 or 5, spreading; stamens numerous, disposed in many series and inserted upon the disk, filaments filiform, anthers oblong or linear, basifixed, longitudinally dehiscent; ovary with 2-7, commonly 4, locules, the style slender, stigma peltate or subcapitate: fr. a berry, ovoid, globose or pyriform, commonly 1-3 in. long, yellow to red in color, sometimes green, crowned with the calyx- limb; seeds few to numerous, small, hard.—About 150 species. The genus is somewhat confused and in need of further study. A large number of species doubtless exist in S and Cent. Amer., which have not as yet been described. The genus is allied to the myrtles (Myrtus), the pomegranate (Punica), and the various Eugenias, of which a number are cult, in the tropics for their frs. The following treatment includes the principal ones known to horticulture.

A species intro. by Franceechi under the name of P. acre. Ten., resembles P. Cattleianum var. lucidum, but has more elongated and usually larger frs. The foliage is of the same type.—P. dichotomum, Weinm., is properly P. Araca: a species intro. by Franceschi as this species is evidently something else, having broad coriaceous, glabrous lye. and somewhat resembling P. Cattleianum in habit.— P. guayabita, A. Rich., is a species recently intro. from W. Cuba, where it grows wild: the frs. are small and not considered very valuable.—P. guianense, Pers., is a synonym of P. fluviatile, Rich., a species with branchlets terete, glabrous: lvs. oval, glabrous: pedicels opposite, 1-fld. Cayenne.—P. guineense, Swartz, is a synonym of P. Araca, Raddi, according to Berg, but DeCandolle considers it a distinct species. He distinguishes it from P. Araca by the lvs. less soft, glabrous above, with the nervation not raised as in the latter. More recently Urban uses it in preference to P. Araca, which latter is made a synonym; he states that it resembles P. Guajava, but is easily distinguished by the less numerous transverse veins, not impressed above. Swartz, in describing P. guineense, stated that it came from Afr., and was cult, in Santo Domingo, but as all psidiums are now known to be American, he was doubtless mistaken regarding its origin.—P. littorale, Raddi, intro. by Franceschi, resembles P. Cattleianum very closely, but has lvs. somewhat more attenuate toward the base, and obovate or pyriform frs. Berg (in Linnaea, xxvii) groups this species, P. Cattleianum and P. humile together under the name of P. variabile. S. Brazil.—P. montanum, Swartz, is a species from the mountains of Jamaica, with 4-angled branchlets: lvs. oblong-oval, acuminate, glabrous: peduncles many-fld.: fr. subrotund.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


Strawberry Guava Psidium cattleianum

Location: Like other tender subtropicals, guavas need a frost-free location, but are not too fussy otherwise. They prefer full sun.

Soil: The guava will tolerate many soil conditions, but will produce better in rich soils high in organic matter. They also prefer a well-drained soil in the pH range of 5 to 7. The tree will take temporary waterlogging but will not tolerate salty soils.

Irrigation: Guavas have survived dry summers with no water in California, although they do best with regular deep watering. The ground should be allowed to dry to a depth of several inches before watering again. Lack of moisture will delay bloom and cause the fruit to drop.

Pruning: Shaping the tree and removing water shoots and suckers are usually all that is necessary. Guavas can take heavy pruning, however, and can be used as informal hedges or screens. Since the fruit is borne on new growth, pruning does not interfere with next years crop.

Fertilization: Guavas are fast growers and heavy feeders, and benefit from regular applications of fertilizer. Mature trees may require as much as 1/2 pound actual nitrogen per year. Apply fertilizer monthly, just prior to heavy pruning.

Frost protection: Overhead protection and planting on the warm side of a building or structure will often provide suitable frost protection for guavas in cooler areas. A frame over the plant covered with fabric will provide additional protection during freezes, and electric lights can be included for added warmth. Potted plants can be moved to a more protected site if necessary.

Harvest: In warmer regions guavas will ripen all year. There is a distinctive change in the color and aroma of the guava that has ripened. For the best flavor, allow fruit to ripen on the tree. The can also be picked green-mature and allowed to ripen off the tree at room temperature. Placing the fruit in a brown paper bag with a banana or apple will hasten ripening. Mature green fruit can be stored for two to five weeks at temperature between 46° and 50° F and relative humidity of 85 to 95 percent. Fruit that has changed color cannot be stored for any extended periods. It bruises easily and will quickly deteriorate or rot. Commercial juice varieties have rock hard inedible seeds, deep pink flesh and hard yellow rinds. They are not good for eating out of hand but have extremely high vitamin C content.


Guava seed remain viable for many months. They often germinate in 2 - 3 weeks but may take as long as 8 weeks. Since guavas cannot be depended upon to come true from seed, vegetative propagation is widely practiced. They are not easy to graft, but satisfactory techniques have been worked out for patch-budding by the Forkert Method (probably the most reliable method), side-veneer grafting, approach grafting and marcotting The tree can also be grown from root cuttings. Pieces of any roots except the smallest and the very large, cut into 5 - 10 inch lengths, are placed flat in a prepared bed and covered with 2 - 4 inches of soil, which must be kept moist. They may also be grown by air-layering or from cuttings of half-ripened wood. Pieces 1/4 - 1/2 inch will root with bottom heat and rooting-hormone treatment. Trees grown from cuttings or air-layering have no taproot, however, and are apt to be blown down in the first 2 or 3 years. One of the difficulties with budded and grafted guavas is the production of water sprouts and suckers from the rootstocks.

Pests and diseases

Foliage diseases, such as anthracnose, can be a problem in humid climates. They can be controlled with regular fungicide applications. Where present, root-rot nematodes will reduce plant vigor. Guava whitefly, guava moth and Caribbean fruit fly can be major problems in southern Florida, but have not been reported in California. Mealy-bugs, scale, common white flies and thrips can be problems in California. In some tropical countries the where fruit flies are a problem, the fruit is covered when small with paper sacks to protect it and assure prime quality fruits for the markets.



  • Beaumont - Selected from a seedling population derived from fruits found in Halemanu, Oahu, Hawaii. Medium to large, roundish fruits weighing up to 8 ounces. Flesh pink, mildly acid, seedy. Excellent for processing. Somewhat susceptible to fruit rots. Tree vigorous, wide spreading, very productive.
  • Detwiler - Originated in Riverside, Calif. in the early 1900's. Selected by H. J. Webber. Medium to large, roundish fruit, about 3 inches in diameter. Skin greenish-yellow, moderately thick. Flesh yellowish to salmon, medium firm, relatively sweet, of pleasant flavor. Quality very good. Tree is a very heavy bearer.
  • Hong Kong Pink - Selected at Poamoho Experimental Farm, Oahu, Hawaii from seed obtained from a clone grown in Hong Kong. Medium to large, roundish fruit fruit weighing 6 - 8 ounces. Flesh is pinkish-red, very thick, smooth-textured. Flavor subacid to sweet, very pleasant, few seeds. Tree spreading, high yielding.
  • Mexican Cream - Originated in Mexico. Small to medium-small, roundish fruits. Skin light yellow, slightly blushed with red. Flesh creamy white, thick, very sweet, fine-textured, excellent for dessert. Seed cavity small with relatively soft seeds. Tree upright.
  • Red Indian - Originated in Dade County, Fla. by Fred Lenz. Introduced in 1946. Medium-large, roundish fruit, of strong odor. Skin yellow, often with pink blush. Flesh medium thick, red, sweet, quality good. Ascorbic acid content averages 195 mg per 100 g fresh fruit, total sugars 7 - 10%. Seeds numerous but small. Good for eating out of hand.
  • Ruby X - Hybrid of the Florida cultivars Ruby and Supreme. Small, roundish fruit. Skin greenish-yellow. Flesh dark pinkish-orange. Flavor delicious, sweet, seed cavity 33% of pulp. Tree bushy, low growing, with vigorous branches drooping outward.
  • Sweet White Indonesian - Large, round fruit, 4 inches or more in diameter. Thin, pale yellow skin. Thick white, melting flesh of a sweet, delicious flavor. Edible seeds in cavity surrounded by juicy pulp. Vigorous, fast growing tree, bears several times a year.
  • White Indian - Originated in Florida. Small to medium-sized, roundish fruit, 2-1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. Flesh thick, white, moderately seedy. Excellent, sprightly flavor. Tree somewhat of a shy bearer.
  • White Seedless - An improved selection from Florida with seedless, white flesh of good quality.


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