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Also called guajava, the guava is a fruit tree native to Central and South America, widespread in cultivation in most of the tropical areas of the globe; two species are cultivated in general, and their consequent cultivars created over time, namely Psidium guajava, let us say the true guava, and Psidium littorale, of smaller dimensions.
In nature Psidium guajava produces large trees, which over the years can reach 7-10 m in height; in Italy generally compact cultivars are chosen, and in any case the trees do not exceed 3-4 m in height.
These trees, although exotic, belong to the myrtacee family, well known in Italy; they are evergreen trees, with large leathery leaves, dark green; in late spring they produce large, white, down-filled flowers: from a distance, a Psidium tree guajava in bloom could remember an enormous myrtle of exceptional dimensions.
The flowers are followed by roundish fruits, similar in size to those of a lemon or an orange; the fruits are commonly consumed in South America, Asia and North Africa; they have a slightly sour taste, and more or less sweet depending on the species or variety. They are often eaten raw, sometimes seasoned with salt or spices. More commonly with guava fruits, jellies, juices and jams are produced, which are easily prepared thanks to the high pectin content of the fruits.
As with other fruits, not completely ripe fruits are strongly astringent. Generally the fruits are green, they become yellow, orange, red or brown when ripe; there are also varieties of green fruit even when ripe, the maturation is noted when the rind becomes yielding to the touch.
The pulp can be white, green, or even pink; pink fruits are also used to prepare savory dishes; as if they were tomatoes.
These fruits are a very important food in the main production areas, as they contain numerous mineral salts, lots of vitamin C and few calories. They are therefore an important food; the ancient inhabitants of Central America used the entire plant, from the foliage they obtained infusions and medicated decoctions, thanks to the antiseptic power of the active ingredients contained in the plant.
Guava is also grown in Italy, in areas where citrus fruits are grown, such as Sicily. In coastal areas with a mild winter climate the guava can find a place in the garden; this fruit is often grown even in places with slightly harsher winters because it can easily be placed in pots, where it retains fairly small dimensions, never more than 2 meters; in this way the vase can be moved to a sheltered place in the event of frost.
In fact the guava tolerates the cold quite well, but, like a lemon, it fears intense and prolonged frost: the winter stay in a cold greenhouse or in the shelter of a terrace, can be more than sufficient in most of our peninsula.
Guava - Psidium guajava: Guava plant
The guava develops without problems even if cultivated as a houseplant, then moved into the house when autumn arrives; the specimens that are not exposed to a cool winter climate, however, tend to produce few fruits, or even not to produce them.
In general the plant should be kept in a very sunny place, sheltered from the wind, in a rich and well-worked soil, very well drained.
It bears the drought without problems, but it is advisable to regularly water the plant when it begins to produce the fruits, to avoid them having difficulty growing.
Plants are obtained without difficulty even from seed, of which the fruits are rich; a plant obtained from seed can begin to bear fruit within 2-4 years; the plants of this type produce continuous suckers at the base, which must be uprooted to improve the development of the plant, it is also advisable to trim the branches in late winter.
If damaged by frost these plants can be pruned at the base, to allow the development of new shoots and a rapid recovery of the whole tree.