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Growing Pitangatuba: Eugenia selloi

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A member of the Myrtle family, the Eugenia genus contains over 1000 species worldwide. Eugenia selloi, Pitangatuba, is closely related to Surinam Cherry but the fruit is yellow instead of red.


Form: Shrub.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Slow.
Mature Size: Normally 4-6' high and wide, but can reach 9' high and wide.
Flowers: Four white petals, many long white stamens with yellow tips, fragrant.
Bloom: Spring and summer for six months or more.
Self-fruitful: Sometimes. A second plant is recommended.
Years before fruiting: 2-3. Flowers that appear the first year of flowering often do not set fruit.
Fruit: Aromatic, yellow to yellow-orange when ripe, oval to round, ribbed, 2-3" long, persistent small apical sepals. The flesh is juicy with a sweet-sour taste and nutritious. The flavor has been compared to Passionfruit plus a bit of latex, and even mango. The amount of latex in the ripe fruit varies from plant to plant. Not everyone will like the flavor. Each fruit contains one oval, light brown seed which separates easily.
Months for fruit to ripen: 3-4 weeks. The fruit may drop off the plant when fully ripe. It can be harvested when partially yellow and will finish ripening indoors.
Storage after harvest: Very perishable. Eaten raw when ripe, cooked for jams and jellies, or used to flavor ice cream.
Leaves: Old leaves are dark green on top, light green underneath, oval with a slight pointed tip, and thick. New leaves are yellow-green.
Stems: No thorns. Older bark on trunk is rough and comes off in plates.
Roots: New seedlings develop a strong taproot.
Cultivars of Note:
Varieties growing elongated fruit are said to have less latex in the ripe fruit than those growing round fruit. There are no cultivar names yet.
Wildlife: Attracts bees, birds, mammals.
Toxic / Danger: Unripe fruit is mildly poisonous.
Origin: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 10-11. The leaves turn purple near freezing.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Drought tolerant: No.
Water after becoming established: Once a week to every two days when flowering and fruiting.
Soil: Well drained, high organic content, salt tolerant, pH 6.1-7.5 (slightly acidic to neutral).
Fertilize: Use compost with citrus micronutrients twice a year.
Mulch: Yes, to retain soil moisture.
Spacing: 2-6' apart. Can be grown as a hedge.
Planting: Does extremely well in a large container.
First Year Care: Do not fertilize.
Prune: In winter, lightly, to shape.
Litter: Flowers, fruit if not harvested.
Propagation: Seed.
Uses: Ornamental, edible fruit, hedge.


Former scientific name: Eugenia neonitida.

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By Fredericoscb (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Latest update: December, 2018