|Myrciaria cauliflora subsp. var.||Jabuticaba, Brazilian Grape Tree|
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Jaboticaba. This name is applied in southeastern Brazil to the fruits of several species of Myrciaria, notably M. cauliflora, and M. jaboticaba, of the family Myrtaoeae. See Myrciaria.
The jaboticabeira, or jaboticaba tree, occurs not only in the wild state in various parts of Minas Geraes, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and adjoining states, but is commonly planted in gardens, and the fruit, which does not differ much in character among the various species, is held in the highest esteem by Brazilians of all classes. When well grown the tree is extremely handsome, reaching a height of 35 or 40 feet, with an umbrageous, dome-shaped head of light green foliage, the new growth pink. The persistent entire leaves are opposite, ovate-elliptical to lanceolate, acute or acuminate at the apex, generally glabrous, varying from 3/4 inch to over 3 inches in length. The flowers are small, white, with four petals and a prominent cluster of stamens. They are produced singly or in clusters directly upon the bark of the trunk and limbs. The season of flowering and fruiting varies with the different species and in different localities; sometimes two or more crops a year are produced.
The fruit is nearly sessile or with a slender peduncle about 1 inch long, and is round or slightly oblate in form. It is 1/2 inch to 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter, glossy, maroon-purple in color, and crowned with a small disk at the apex. The skin is thicker than that of a grape, and considerably tougher. The translucent, juicy pulp, white or tinged with rose, is of a most agreeable vinous flavor, remarkably suggestive of the grape, to which the jaboticaba is frequently compared. The seeds, one to four in number, are oval to round in outline, compressed laterally, 1/4 to 3/8 inch long. When heavily laden with fruit, the tree is a curious sight. Not only is the trunk covered with glistening jaboticabas. but the fruiting extends out to the ends of the small branches as well.
The fruit is usually consumed when fresh, but in former days was used by the Indians for the manufacture of wine. It is sometimes made into jelly or jam. In the markets of Rio de Janeiro, jaboticabas sell for about 25 cents a pound, and considerable quantities are shipped in from Minas Geraes and Sao Paulo.
The tree prefers a soil that is rich and deep. Its growth is slow, six to eight years being required for it to come into bearing. Propagation in Brazil is almost always by seed, but inarching or some other vegetative means is necessary to perpetuate good varieties. There is much variation among seedlings. In California the jaboticaba makes very slow growth, and is adapted only to the most protected, locations. It has been planted in Florida very recently, and may prove adapted to some sections of that state. When young the trees are very susceptible to frost, but when they have attained a few years' growth they will withstand slight frosts without serious injury. For a more complete account, see "Journal of Heredity," Vol. V, No. 7, 1914. F. W. Popenoe.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Myrciaria cauliflora, Berg. Jaboticaba. The best-known species, considered by Barbosa Rodrigues the handsomest of all the Myrtacese. Tree, up to 35 ft.: lvs. elliptical-lanceolate acute at base and apex: calyx- lobes lanceolate, ciliate: fls. shortly pedicellate, produced directly from the bark of the trunk and branches: fr. ½-1½in- diam., globose, purplish violet in color, exocarp astringent. Mountains of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Geraes. Pacific Garden, June 1915, p. 12.
Adaptation: In Brazil jaboticabas grow from sea-level to elevations of more than 3,000 ft. Different plants vary markedly in how much frost they can take without severe damage, probably reflecting the species that a given plant belongs to. Some plants can take 24° F or lower and survive; others are damaged at 27° F. In 1917, a young tree at Brooksville, Florida survived a temperature drop to 18° F. with only the foliage and branches killed back. In California jaboticabas have been successfully grown in San Diego, Spring Valley, Bostonia, Encinitas, South Los Angeles and as far north as the San Jose and San Francisco Bay areas. The plant makes a suitable container specimen.
Growth Habit: The jaboticaba is a slow growing large shrub or small, bushy tree. It reaches a height of 10 - 15 feet in California and 12 - 45 feet in Brazil, depending on the species. The trees are profusely branched, beginning close to the ground and slanting upward and outward so that the dense, rounded crown may attain an ultimate spread as wide as it is tall. The thin, beige to reddish bark flakes off much like that of the guava. The jaboticaba makes an attractive landscape plant.
Foliage: The evergreen, opposite leaves are lanceolate to elliptic, 1 - 4 inches in length and 1/2 - 3/4 inch wide. In color they are a glossy dark green with a leathery texture. The size, shape and texture varies somewhat from one species to another.
Flowers: The small yellow-white flowers dramatically emerge from the multiple trunks, limbs and large branches in groups of four. It has been reported from Brazil that solitary jaboticaba trees bear poorly compared with those planted in groups, which indicates that cross-pollination enhances productivity.
Fruits: Jaboticaba fruit is grape-like in appearance and texture but with a thicker, tougher skin. Most California fruit is dark purple to almost black in color. Averages size is one inch in diameter but can run from 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches, depending on species and variety. The gelatinous whitish pulp contains from one to four small seeds and has a pleasant, subacid flavor markedly similar to certain muscadine grapes. The skin has a slight resinous flavor that is not objectionable. Fruit may be produced singly or in clusters from the ground up all over the trunk and main branches, and the plant may fruit up to five times per year. Fresh fruit is delicious eaten out-of-hand and can be made into jellies, jams and wine. The skin is high in tannin and should not be consumed in large quantities over a long period of time.
- More information about this species can be found on the genus page.
Location: Jaboticaba trees are will take full sun or some shade and are small enough fit into many parts of the garden landscape. They are fairly wind tolerant but do not like salty sea air. Small, young trees do best with some protection.
Soil: Jaboticabas grow and fruit best in rich deep soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Although it is not well adapted to alkaline soils, it may be grown successfully by mulching and applying necessary nutrient sprays containing iron. The tree is not tolerant of salty or poorly drained soil. It has grown and borne well on sand in Central Florida.
Fertilization: For young plants half ratio fertilizer at monthly intervals will speed the plant's very slow growth rate. Any well-balanced fertilizer applied three times per year will keep the plant healthy. Because of its shallow root system, it is suggested that a series of small holes be dug and filled with organic material around the plant's base. The organic material can contain a balanced fertilizer which will be released during irrigation.
Irrigation: Water should be supplied as needed to maintain good soil moisture and prevent wilting, but constant flooding is undesirable. As the root system is somewhat shallow, irrigation is usually required when the upper inch or two of soil become dry.
Pruning: Pruning of jaboticabas is not usually needed, but when pruned as a hedge, the fruit is not destroyed since it is formed only on the inner branches and trunk.
Frost Protection: Although Jaboticabas can tolerate a few degrees of frost, they do best under frost-free conditions. In areas where frost may be a problem, providing them with some overhead protection or planting them next to a wall or a building may be sufficient. The smallish plants are also fairly easy to cover during cold snaps by placing carpeting, plastic sheeting, etc. over a frame around them. Potted specimens can be moved to a frost-secure area.
Harvest: Jaboticaba fruits are ready to harvest when they have developed a full color and are somewhat soft like a ripe grape. They are mostly eaten out-of-hand in South America. By squeezing the fruit between the thumb and forefinger, one can cause the skin to split and the pulp to slip into the mouth. The peeled fruits are often used for making jelly and marmalade, with the addition of pectin. Jaboticaba wine is made to a limited extent in Brazil.
Most seeds are polyembryonic, producing a plant that is true or close to the parent plant. The seeds germinate in about one month. A suggested potting mixture is 2 parts peat, 2 parts coarse sand and 1 part coarse perlite, wood shavings or compost. Selected strains can be reproduced by inarching (approach grafting) or air-layering. Budding is not easily accomplished because of the thinness of the bark and the hardness of the of the wood. Veneer or side grafts are fairly successful. The grafted plant will fruit considerably earlier than a seedling. One may expect a grafted plant to produce fruit within three years, It can take from 8 to 15 years for a seedling to mature into a fruiting tree. It is this very slow growth that has kept this plant from becoming as popular as it deserves to be. Grafting older trees over to a different variety is inadvisable because it is the trunk and inner branches which produce the fruit. One would have to cut the tree back to a one-inch stump in order to change its fruiting nature.
When planting a jaboticaba, the crown (uppermost) roots should be 2 to 3 inches higher than the surrounding soil levels to provide water runoff. Peat, compost or rotted manure may be mixed with the soil from the planting hole to improve it. The soil should be a well-aerated mixture.
Pests and diseases
The fruit and flowers of some varieties are susceptible to a fungus caused rust during wet periods. Many flowers may desiccate during dry periods. Birds, raccoons and opossums are all attracted to fruiting trees. Deer will sometimes browse on the new foliage, but jaboticaba roots are not particularly attractive to gophers.
- Branca - Produces large bright green flavorful fruit. Medium size and heavy producer.
- Paulista - Large to very large fruit, skin thick and leathery. Flesh juicy, subacid to sweet. Quality very good, ripens relatively late. Resistant to rust. Tree strong growing, highly productive though it bears a single crop. Introduced into California in 1904.
- Rajada - Fruit very large, skin green-bronze, thinner than that of Paulista. Flavor sweet and very good. Tree much like that of Paulista. Midseason.
- Sabara - Most prized and most often planted tree in Brazil. Fruit is small, thin-skinned and sweet. Tree medium-sized, precocious and very productive. Produces 4 crops per year. Susceptible to flower and fruit rust.
- Ponhema - Produces a large, leathery skinned fruit with a pointed apex. Must be fully ripe for eating raw. Mostly used in jellies or preserves. Tree is very large and a heavy producer.
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