The amount of variation and diversity in the different kinds of fruits that grow in this world is astonishing. In America we are used to seeing apples, oranges, and bananas all year round in the grocery store, and we can find other fruits seasonally like water melon, peaches, and pineapple. We are fortunate to live in an age where fruit can be grown thousands of miles away in more suitable climates, and then shipped to our local grocery store even when those fruits are not in season here. We all know that fruit is good for us because it contains essential vitamins, fiber, and is low in calories, but there are many fruits we have never tasted, or even seen, that are delicious and just as healthy as the apple. The reason we have never tasted these fruits is because many of them don’t ship very well, so we only get to try them if we pay ridiculous prices or happen to be in an area where they grow natively.
One of these fruits comes from the tree Acca Sellowiana, commonly known as feijoa, pineapple guava, or guavasteen. The feijoa is a small evergreen perennial shrub or tree native to areas in South America. It has attractive green leaves with pubescent silvery undersides, and although it is not a true guava, it grows delicious fruit and is grown as a hedge or small specimen tree.
The flowers are white and pink with bright red stamen. The petals are edible with a flavor that is sweet with a hint of cinnamon and a texture similar to marshmallows. The petals can be picked carefully and will still allow the fruit to ripen, and they are occasionally found in salads in fancy restaurants.
The fruit is green and about the size of a chicken egg. It has a sweet flavor with a mixture of pineapple, apple, and mint. The fruit pulp is juicy, cream colored, and has a slightly granular texture. The fruit falls to the ground when it is ripe and at its best flavor, but it can be picked from the tree though it loses some of its flavor if picked too early. The fruit is most commonly consumed by cutting it in half and scooping out the pulp with a spoon. The fruit ripens in late fall and does not store well, so it is best to eat it as soon as possible, though it can be kept in the refrigerator for about a week and some say they can be frozen for up to a year and still retain its flavor.
Growing your own
Feijoa is adaptable to most types of soil and doesn’t require much fertilizer.
Light: Full sun to part shade.
Moisture: Thrives with little care in most well-drained soils. Usually doesn’t need supplemental watering except in very dry climates.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 and 10. Feijoa is hardy to 10º F (-12º C) and does best where the winters are cool and the summers moderate with temperatures between 80-90º F (26-32º C). To produce fruit, feijoas need 100-200 chilling hours below 45º F (7º C). Heat stress in the summer may cause them to drop fruit prematurely.
Propagation: Feijoas are best propagated by cuttings or grafting from known cultivars. Seedlings grow slowly and may not produce quality fruit.” (2003 Floridatacom)
If you live in an area that gets temperatures below 10°F (-12°C) you may need to grow your feijoa in a greenhouse or hoop house. Some grafted varieties are self-fertile, but most are not and may need a pollinator to produce high yields.