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in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

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Growing Pineapple Guava / Feijoa: Acca sellowiana

Botanical Overview

Belonging to the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae) but not true (Psidium genus) guavas, the Acca genus contains three species, of which Acca sellowiana, Pineapple Guava, is the most well known. Several dozen cultivars have been developed.

Description

Form: A multi-stemmed shrub or small tree.
Lifespan: Up to 50 years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Slow to moderately rapid depending on fertilization and water.
Mature Size: 3-20' high and as wide.
Flowers: Four to six fleshy, white petals curled inward at the sides, tinged with purple, surrounding long bright red stamens with yellow tips. The flowers petals are edible and have a bit of a marshmallow taste. They can be removed for eating while leaving the rest of the flower intact for fruiting.
Bloom: Mid-spring.
Self-fruitful: Usually no. Two plants should be placed together for cross pollination. Poor fruit yield is often caused by lack of pollination. Hand pollination with a small brush is very successful.
Years before fruiting: 3-5 years from seed.
Fruit: Egg shaped, blue-green, waxy skin, fragrant, edible. Fruit size varies from 0.75" to 4" in length. The flavor is said to be a cross between pineapple and another fruit, such as strawberry, apple and mint, or banana. Eat the fruit like an avocado, scooping the flesh out of the skin with a spoon. The skin is edible but sour.
Months for fruit to ripen: 4.5 to 7. The fruit are ripe or nearly ripe when they drop from the branch after the plant is shaken. Check every two days.
Storage after harvest: Firm fruit will ripen further if placed in a bowl at room temperature, but will not taste as good as that fully ripened on the plant. When ripe, they will still be fairly firm. Keep them no more that one week in a refrigerator for the best quality. Dip the fruit in lemon juice after peeling to prevent it from turning brown. Pineapple Guava bruise easily and should be treated with care.
Leaves: Green and smooth on top, silvery underneath, elliptical, thick.
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: Deep if properly watered, non-invasive.
Cultivars of Note for hot, dry climates:
Most plants sold by retail nurseries do not have a cultivar designation; named cultivars are available from a few California nurseries.
'Nazemetz' self-fruitful, medium sized fruit, ripens late season.
'Trask' self-fruitful, medium to large sized fruit, ripens early.
Wildlife: The flowers attract birds in the plant's native region which eat the petals while pollinating the flowers. Bees, which also visit, are thought to be ineffective pollinators because of the dimensions and shape of the flower. The fruit attract birds and mammals. The foliage is not usually browsed by rabbits and deer. Rabbits may dig at moist soil under the plant after irrigation, however, looking for water, damaging roots and moving mulch aside.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: Northern Argentina, southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

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Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 8b-10. Hardy to 15°F. One cultivar, less well suited to high temperatures, can handle 5°F.
Chill hours: Typically 100-200 hours. 100-200 chill hours are needed for the best flowering.
Heat tolerant: Yes, once established. Extra water is needed to maintain appearance over 90°F. Heat stress may cause fruit drop and leaf browning. If the tips of leaves turn brown, deep watering will allow the plant to stay green.
Drought tolerant: Yes, but prolonged lack of water, especially in high temperatures, results in a loss of fruit and a ratty appearance.
Sun: Full sun to part afternoon shade. Avoid reflected sun or hot zones.
Planting: Locate the plant in a sunny location, possibly with part afternoon shade. Make sure there is enough space for it to grow to its full width and height, or prepare to trim it to a desired size.
The best time to put this plant in the ground is after the danger of frost is past, in late winter or early spring.
Plant the shrub so that the root crown is at least one inch above ground level. The top roots must extend out from the trunk, just above, and uncovered by, soil. It can be grown in large containers.
Soil: Well drained. This plant is tolerant as to soil type. It performs best in pH 6.1-7.5 (slightly acidic to neutral) soil but tolerates slightly alkaline soil. It is moderately salt tolerant.
Fertilize: Fertilizer causes rapid, leggy growth and possibly should be avoided. Use an organic fertilizer mid-winter if desired. Avoid composted manure or other high nitrogen fertilizers that will inhibit flowering and fruiting.
Water after becoming established: Deep water once or twice a month when not fruiting. Deep water every one or two weeks when fruiting and when temperatures over 90°F to maintain appearance. This encourages the plant's roots to grow deep, away from the heat of the sun, improving its water gathering capacity. Leaves turning brown half-way, from middle to tip, is a sign of insufficient water and a need for deep watering.
Mulch: Use mulch to protect roots from summer heat and winter cold.
Prune: After fruit harvest, trim lightly to shape. The plant will handle shearing, but this reduces flower production, which occurs on new growth. Dense branches may need thinning to expose flowers and fruit, but exposed branches should be painted with tree trunk paint to prevent sun burn. The plant can be shaped to any form.
Litter: Moderate fruit and leaf drop.
Propagation: Rooted cuttings, cuttings grafted onto established rootstock, or seed. Seed are easy to grow but are not true to their parents. Cuttings for rooting, taken in November, from branches at the bottom of the trunk have a better success rate than those taken higher up, should be about 1/4" diameter, and have three nodes with two leaves left at top.
Uses: Ornamental, edible flowers and fruit, hedge. The flower petals are used in salads and tea and can be removed from the rest of the flower while allowing fruit formation. The fruit can be eaten out of hand or used to make jams and jellies.

Comments

The former scientific name is Feijoa sellowiana.


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Pineapple Guava: Acca sellowiana - flowers

Pineapple Guava: Acca sellowiana - fruit

Pineapple Guava: Acca sellowiana - leaves

Pineapple Guava: Acca sellowiana


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Latest update: August, 2021