Feijoa
3 mins read

Feijoa

Introduction

Feijoa, also known as Guavasteen or Pineapple Guava, is a small, evergreen shrub native to the subtropical regions of South America. Belonging to the Myrtaceae family, Feijoa is a versatile fruit tree that has gained popularity worldwide for its unique flavor, nutritional benefits, and low-maintenance cultivation. In this article, we will delve into the world of Feijoa, exploring its etymology, description, taxonomy, cultivars, distribution, cultivation, production, uses, phytochemistry, flavor, toxicity, nutrition, and cultural significance.

Etymology

The name “Feijoa” is derived from the Portuguese “feijão,” meaning “bean,” likely due to the fruit’s resemblance to a bean pod. The scientific name, Acca sellowiana, honors the German botanist Friedrich Sellow, who first discovered the species in the 19th century.

Description

Feijoa is a compact, evergreen shrub that grows up to 3-5 meters in height. Its elliptical leaves are dark green, glossy, and oppositely arranged, with a distinctive silver-gray underside. The bark is smooth and gray, with a flaky texture. The flowers are small, white, and star-shaped, with a sweet, fragrant aroma. The fruit is a green, oval-shaped berry, 3-5 cm in length, with a soft, juicy pulp and a single seed in the center.

Taxonomy and Cultivars

Feijoa belongs to the Myrtaceae family, which includes other popular fruits like guava, eucalyptus, and allspice. There are several cultivars of Feijoa, including:

CultivarDescription
‘Coolidge’Large, sweet fruit with a red blush
‘Edenvale’Compact growth, sweet and tangy fruit
‘Kakapo’Large, sweet fruit with a green skin
‘Opal Star’White flowers, sweet and juicy fruit
‘Trask’Large, sweet fruit with a red skin

Distribution and Habitat

Feijoa is native to the subtropical regions of South America, including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. It has been naturalized in other parts of the world, including the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Feijoa prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade, making it an ideal choice for gardeners in temperate climates.

Cultivation

Feijoa is relatively easy to cultivate and requires minimal maintenance. It can be grown from seed or propagated through cuttings. The tree prefers well-drained soil and regular watering, but is drought-tolerant once established. Pruning is necessary to maintain shape and promote fruiting.

Production and Uses

Feijoa is a versatile fruit with various uses:

UseDescription
Fresh fruitEnjoyed raw, added to salads, or used in desserts
Jam and preservesMade from the fruit’s sweet and tangy pulp
JuiceFreshly squeezed or bottled for later use
TeaMade from the leaves, said to have medicinal properties
OrnamentalUsed as a hedge or specimen plant in gardens

Phytochemistry

Feijoa contains various bioactive compounds, including:

CompoundDescription
FlavonoidsAntioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Phenolic acidsAntimicrobial and antifungal properties
TerpenesAromatic and medicinal properties
Vitamins and mineralsRich in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber

Flavor

Feijoa’s flavor is often described as a combination of pineapple, guava, and strawberry, with a sweet and tangy taste.

Toxicity

Feijoa is generally safe for consumption, but may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

Nutrition

Feijoa is a nutrient-rich fruit, providing:

NutrientAmount (per 100g)
Energy55 kcal
Carbohydrates13.5g
Fiber2.5g
Vitamin C30mg
Potassium150mg

Culture

Feijoa has cultural significance in its native regions, where it is often used in traditional medicine and cooking. In Brazil, Feijoa is considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

Conclusion

Feijoa is a fascinating fruit tree that offers a unique combination of flavor, nutrition, and low-maintenance cultivation. Its versatility and cultural significance make it a valuable addition to any garden or kitchen.