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Growing Grumichama: Eugenia brasiliensis

Botanical Overview

A member of the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae), the Eugenia genus contains over 1000 species worldwide and has several edible fruit species, including Grumichama.

Description

Form: Large shrub or small tree.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Slow, about one foot a year in height.
Mature Size: Usually 6-25' high and not as wide. It can reach 45' in its native environment.
Flowers: Four white petals, many white stamens with pale-yellow anthers.
Bloom: Spring. In its native region, it flowers periodically spring through fall.
Self-fruitful: Yes. It may require hand pollination if insects are not attracted to the flowers.
Years before fruiting: 4-5 from seed.
Fruit: Oblate, 1/2"-1" wide, suspended on a long stalk, persistent sepals at its apex; thin skin, colored purple or yellow, with sweet, aromatic, red or white juicy pulp. Its flavor has been described as a cross between black cherry and Jaboticaba with a hint of resin. The grape-like skin adds a tiny amount of bitterness and a moderate amount of astringency to the fruit when comparing skin-on versus skin-off flavor. It contains one to three hard seeds.
Months for fruit to ripen: 3-4 weeks. The fruit is delicate and should be harvested with care. Clipping the stem will avoid tearing the skin which causes rapid drying of the fruit.
Storage after harvest: Refrigerate immediately after harvest up to 12 days. Stem removal should be avoided.
Leaves: Glossy green, thick, leathery, and minutely pitted on both surfaces, the leaves persist for 2 years. New leaves are red.
Stems: Short-trunked, no thorns.
Roots: Shallow.
Wildlife: The flowers attract pollinating insects, the fruit attracts birds. Bird netting may be required.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: Southeastern Brazil.

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Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 9b-11. Young plants are hardy to 30°F, older ones to 26°F. This plant has been observed to produce fruit at 300-2000' altitude in Hawaii. It is intolerant of strong winds when young because its roots allow it to be toppled.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: No.
Drought tolerant: No.
Sun: All day part shade to afternoon shade, especially in hot climates. Full sun is tolerated in cool months. This is an understory shrub when young.
Planting: Locate the plant where it will get part shade most of the day and is not subjected to strong wind. Planting on top of a mound or in a raised garden bed provides better moisture control. Dig a garden trench 5' wide and 2' deep (or a raised bed 5' wide and 2' high), allowing 6' of length for each plant (centered).
Soil: Well drained, moist, high organic content, pH 6.1-6.5 (slightly acidic) is best. This plant will have iron, magnesium, and manganese deficiencies in alkaline soil. It is slightly salt tolerant.
Fertilize: Apply organic fertilizer monthly during growing season. Use a citrus plant micronutrient solution in irrigation water three times a year in mid winter, mid spring, and mid summer. Avoid fertilizing during blooming season because nitrogen inhibits flowering.
Water after becoming established: Daily bubbler irrigation allows the plant to produce fruit in dry regions from spring bloom until the last fruit become ripe.
Mulch: Spread organic mulch inside the drip line and 8" away from the trunk to shield roots from temperature extremes and reduce moisture evaporation.
First Three Years' Care: Protect from strong winds and freezing.
Prune: This plant can be pruned to 6-8' for easier harvesting. It seldom needs pruning otherwise. Remove all plants and grass near the root zone to avoid root competition for nutrients.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Seeds remain viable for up to 6 weeks and sprout in 30 days. Rooted cuttings are preferred using superior cultivars. Air layering and grafting are also successful. Grumichama should be purchased as a rooted plant, not as seed, which is non-viable when dried.
Uses: Ornamental, edible fruit, hedging.

Comments

Another name is Brazilian Cherry. It grows well in Florida and is considered productive but invasive in parts of Hawaii. This plant is closely related to Cherry of the Rio Grande, Star Cherry, and Surinam Cherry, and more distantly to Jaboticaba.



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Eugenia brasiliensis flowers. Photo by Forest & Kim Starr

B.navez own work assumed (based on copyright claims), CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwinde

Eugenia_brasiliensis_-_Jardim_Botânico_de_São_Paulo_-_IMG_0397.jpg


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Latest update: August, 2020